The Hubs balked when I suggested Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar for dinner. You see, to all Singaporean males who have been conscripted, a "cookhouse" refers to the canteens in the barracks. And I think, to ensure our Singaporean males get "the full war-time experience", these cookhouses simulate the type of garbage available as food during deployment. The particular sort of slop they had to stomach for two whole years will forever be seared in their collective memories, and a 'cookhouse' will consequently be forever associated with swill.
But, you know, I'm the self-proclaimed food blogger right, so he follows where I say we go. Besides, I was at the adjoining bar a few weeks back having work drinks to toast a new venture, and The Big Kahuna had rhapsodized about "the fantastic egg caviar". And because this guy is legit high-SES, it's safe to assume he knows his haute cuisine.
Also, I love caviar. I may not care for many expensive delicacies like bird's nest, abalone, escargot, shark's fin, or uni, but I do love my caviar. It's one of the few delicacies I think is truly worth the hype and price.
I've actually put off visiting Dempsey Cookhouse by Jean Georges until it passed its first birthday (as per new restaurant S.O.P.) and it looks like I'll be visiting them a lot moving forward. It's by far the best meals of 2018 to date. The food was exceptional. Twice we've been there, and dinner both times was nothing short of flawless. All of the caviar dishes were glorious. Yes, ALL three of them. They were insanely good. Quick aside: I'm reminded of this Frasier episode, when Roz developed a love for caviar and waxed lyrical about how caviar goes with everything...and that opinion totally resonates. Caviar does pair beautifully with anything and everything, even a simple cracker.
A big big bonus: the restaurant is open till late (midnight is the earliest they close, with hours extending till 1am on Fridays and Saturdays), which means caviar for supper!!
A Jean-Georges signature at his eponymous New York flagship, the Egg Caviar ($38) heralded the start of a transcendent dinner. An egg mousse blended with volka and framed with whipped cream on the perfect edges of a cut eggshell, this was crowned with a dollop of caviar. A simple concept elevated by luxurious ingredients and finesse in execution. And if the price seems shockingly high, I'm going to again quote the French propriétaire of the specialty grocer who retorts when Frasier objects to the price of the caviar "To the fish who gave up her life so you could spread her unborn children on a cracker, not so much."
If all eggy toasts looked and tasted like Jean Georges' Toasted Egg Yolk with Caviar ($38), I sure would have eaten a lot more toast growing up. An egg yolk, barely cooked and still runny inside, was delicately sandwiched between bite-size brioche toasts and topped off with a heap of caviar.
There's tuna tartare, and then, there's Dempsey Cookhouse's Tuna Tartare with Caviar ($48), which briny notes of the cured roe complemented the clean clear flavour of the chopped tuna and chives. Add to that a trio of brioche soldiers, and it was like, to paraphrase Niles, kissing a lusty mermaid. If I had to pick, and this was tougher a question than the Hemsworth brothers' version of Fuck, Marry, Kill, this would be my favourite caviar dish.
The Char Grilled Octopus ($26), served with fried potato nuggets in a medley of smoked paprika creme fraiche and guajillo chilli pepper vinaigrette, was extraordinary. The octopus was perfectly cooked, torched to a beautifully caramelised, almost crunchy, crust but still soft and chewy underneath. One of the best, if not the best, renditions of octopus I've had to date.
The most popular of their pizza options, the Black Truffle & Fontina Cheese Pizza ($34) was remarkable; the pizza was wonderful, imbued with the smoky scent of the wood-fired oven, chewy and crispy, and I loved how the sharp pungency of the cheese balanced the heady intensity of the black truffle.
The Spice-Crusted Snapper ($39) was set atop a tom yum-inspired broth dotted with cherry tomatoes, shimeiji mushrooms, pearl onions, and potato dice, that was at once robust and bracing. The sour and spicy flavours of this made this absolutely addictive; we licked the bowl clean.
The Roasted Tiger Prawns ($39), intoxicatingly smoky and deliciously succulent, was sided by poached broccoli rabe and a subtly-spicy herbal coconut cream gravy with curried overtones. Scrumptious stuff, and as expected, we mopped up every last drop of that amazing gravy.
The #eatclean option, the Roasted Cod ($45) was paired with charred ramps, grilled asparagus, and a silky fava bean and green chilli mash. A sterling example of how eating light can be satisfyingly yummy.
The Prosciutto-Wrapped Pork Chops ($38) flanked with lashings of glazed mushrooms, and a sage-accented brown sauce, was sumptuous and comforting in that Sunday roast way. Being swaddled in prosciutto assured the pork chop was incredibly moist. I really don't understand why some people hate the word 'moist'. But it's a most fitting description for the pork chops, and so I'll say it again, moist.😂
Complimentary crusty bread and foccacia dotted with black olives a-plenty, both baked in-house so they were still warm, were fantastic.
Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar
17D Dempsey Road
Tel: 1800 304 5588
Open Mondays to Thursdays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner;
Fridays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 1am for dinner;
Saturdays from 11.30am to 4pm for lunch; 6pm to 1am for dinner;
Sundays from 11.30am to 4pm for lunch; 6pm to 12midnight for dinner