Skirt: The Boldest Grill, Justified
I’ve had my fair share of steak restaurants over the past year. This is not a hyperbole, but a declaration of a certain fatigued prejudice towards the typical steakhouse stereotype. My recent dining experience at said ‘old school/traditional’ steakhouse bored me at first glance, bedecked in drab carpets, heavy red velvet curtains, and conservative hard-backed chairs. Fortunately for the newly reinvented SKIRT at W Singapore Sentosa, this was not the case. The restaurant is not new—it has been around since 2012. However with so much of the Singapore’s culinary scene so in thrall to the latest openings, the steakhouse is obliged to raise its voice from the far corners of tranquil Sentosa cove, by resuscitating its tired space and rebrand as “The Boldest Grill”. A brassy move steered by culinary director, Chef Justin Dingle Garciyya, who had trained under Raymond Blanc at Le Manor Aus Quat’Saisons and worked stints across the globe in London, Miami, Qatar and Australia.
The result is a mixed bag of dishes, smatterings of European dishes with a distinct Asian overture. A well-taken risk that might have reinstated the steakhouse’s standing in the hearts of the media and steak enthusiasts alike. “The Boldest Grill”—to which I say, is justified.
You could do much worse than overdose on too much focaccia—and it’s completely understandable. Quaint copper pans with half a dozen rolls tucked snugly reveal bellows of steam when pulled apart. It’s a momentous time for bread as the crisp crusted salty breads sporting a slight buttered-up lamination within, marries satisfaction with licks of duck fat butter flecked with smoked salt. You’ll devour this with enthusiasm, but I’ll urge you to stop.
Give thanks then for the enlightened last piece will seek shelter in the warm folds of the next dish, the Sri Lankan Crab and Caviar in shellfish bisque. It’s most striking with its frothy heights aggressed by the citrus tang from lemongrass. Shredded crabmeat is so fragrant, it’s practically narcotic. There are curls of pea shoots to keep all this richness in check.
One reason to love Skirt is the buzz in the dining room. High ceilings and intimate booth seating sport a royal purple hue, combined with the flaming theatrics from the kitchen centre stage; it’s hard not to spend a withdrawn minute or two, preferably swirling a glass of wine in hand, immersing yourself in the vibrant settings. This, is not just a mere steakhouse, it’s an endorphin-charged culinary playground. The next dish of Truffled Beef Tartare lets you loose on the primrose path of dalliance.
Stacked with the precision of a master Jenga player, thin as lace sheaths of crispy rice crackers are assembled between beef tartare subtly perfumed with truffle. The pools of spicy chipotle dressing resting at its feet giving the concoction a nice spicy corrective.
Then there’s the heart-stompingly filthy Bone Marrow mixed in with escargot and café de skirt butter. To be fair, there’s nothing prissy about this dish here, but its mere over-the-top appearance will elicit a palpable excitement and glazed vision in more extreme cases. Magic carpet rides of creamy mashed potato are pivotal in catching the overabundance of rich oils from the double trouble.
You know what they say about true love, it comprises unforgivably raw emotions—a combination of sweetness, madness and dreamlike surrender. I had my heart swept off its feet with my first foray into the Veal Sweetbread and Foie Gras dish. For those of you who are not exposed to offals, think of sweetbreads as the gateway drug. Smooth and tender, with just a little musty flavour to justify its disposition. The creamy nature when braised lends it a beguiling display of sensations when melded with the rich jus. To top it off, the smattering of herbs and sea salt snowed on the block of foie gras, glistens with an opulent sheen as if attempting to steal the limelight from what appears to be the largest calf sweetbreads I’ve ever laid my eyes on. I could wax lyrical about this all day, but we have to move on to the steaks before we’re wine drunk.
The Grilled Cape Grim Sirloin tells a convincing tale. Hailing from Tasmania, Australia, the 100% grass-fed beef may be foreign to most wagyu aficionados, but its provenance speaks volumes in terms of flavour. Against a cascade of sunchoke foam, the tender hunk of steak is delectable, with a murmur of grassiness even. You fight a war of attrition between the kitchen and your stomach capacity when a flurry of sides show up. Beets and blunt revitalises the trimmings of carrots, beetroot and parsnips in a most eye-catching manner. While the broccolini manages to coax the dying embers of your green-loving soul, the gloriously rich Pomme Anna disguises more carbs underneath a glorious sheath of caramelised cheese.
But perhaps the most intriguing was the Lobster Mac and Cheese—a famous comfort dish taken to new levels with the luxe addition of the crustacean.
Dinner concludes with the Banana Pizza and there are no disappointments. It’s an orchestra of flavours that harmonically play themselves out on the plate: toasted pistachios, the light sprinkle of powdered sugar, the gooey caramelised bananas beneath layers of torched sugar, flaky pastry, still hot from the oven and finally the chilled vanilla ice cream that weeps luscious notes of sweet cream all over the warm discs. I ate this, mostly guilty, pupils dilated with lust.
With a generous influx of steakhouses over the years, Skirt has always been somewhat under the radar, mostly attributed to its obscure location. However, with the welcome change in culinary direction, and my night of debauchery condensed into a ‘Heart Eyes Emoji’, this might all change very soon.