We had a month’s break from Supper Club in January as everyone got settled back in after the holidays, and so February was the first of 2017. We wanted to start the year on a high, and off the back of a very positive recent experience, our good friend Bloomy recommended Salted and Hung, a modern Australian restaurant on Purvis Street. Great advice, as it turns out.
It was an absolute pleasure from the very get-go to organise this with the Salted & Hung team. Manager Tian went backwards and forwards with me as I finalised numbers, we met with chef Drew Nocente to take a look and agree on a special tasting sharing menu for the evening, and throughout the dinner the service was brilliant; attentive yet unobtrusive. Finally when it came to the bill, no qualms at all about splitting as we wished across food and drinks and various combinations between 18 guests (often a pain point).
So we were comfortably settled in and enjoying some drinks at 2 long tables along the side of the restaurant, admiring the simple yet fun and quirky decor; neon signs, pictures of pigs and quotes from Animal Farm adorn the walls. (‘Four legs good, two legs bad’ for example, for those not familiar with the George Orwell classic.). As you might therefore expect with this sort of quote, the concept is unashamedly about meat (although the menu also includes fish and a few vegetables), and about using every part of that animal from nose to tail (or fin or tentacle…). Then it’s about the treatment of that animal; every dish has an element of smoking, curing or pickling, and any cooking done on the in-house grill.
With a nod from Tian, we were off with the food, the sharing dishes placed at intervals along the tables for us to get stuck into. We started with a selection of charcuterie including chorizo, wagyu beef bresaola, lardo (which I don’t usually like, but this was flavoured with truffle honey and chilli, delicious) and rillettes. It came with tangy pickles and crisp flatbreads.
Next were a couple of seafood dishes; perfectly grilled squid with sharp yuzu, hint of wakame seaweed and a dark ink sauce, and my ‘dish of the night’, flame grilled mackerel with horseradish cream, pickles and a dusting of ‘nori ash’ which just added a slightly smoky flavour.
Moving to the meat came a controversial dish of veal heart with wasabi. I was expecting to hate it, thinking it would be like offal and too strong, but it was meaty, rich, not too strong in flavour, and so tender -like a really good thinly sliced steak. The wasabi with it was perfect. Enormous giant prawns came next, soaked in butter and dusted with a little more seaweed. So juicy and flavoursome. And alongside this, a hamachi collar; essentially beautiful soft white fish from a part of the creature that I have never tried before, and served with chopped green beans and some lardo added moisture and flavour.
What followed was the only ‘vegetable’ dish of the night (heavy on protein, less on the fresh greens in this place); sweetcorn. This dish was, to quote our UK visitor Tim, ‘absolutely outrageous’. So simple – just corn sliced from the cob, left with a little bite, coated in salty spiced butter, chives and manchego cheese.
By this point we were already a) pretty full and b) highly impressed. And we were just about to hit the ‘main’ dishes. A plate of lamb cutlets came out (a whole rack of lamb, sliced) which were just about the best I have ever eaten, soft and pink with an incredible lamb reduction. With anchovy cream, it really worked. There was also wagyu flank which was the only weak point of the menu in my opinion; the homemade XO sauce was a bit too strong and fishy somehow, taking away from the meat which was also a touch chewy. These meats came with the restaurant’s signature ‘black mash’. Served in a flowerpot, it is mashed potato which is absolutely dark black due to the addition of squid ink and charcoal. This caused much debate along the lines of ‘why would you ruin such a simple beautiful thing as mashed potato?’ but I really quite liked it.
To finish things off came the desserts, one of which had my entire table going back in for spoonful after spoonful; the peanut butter tim tam. Their take on this classic Australian chocolate bar is a base of caramel-ly peanut butter gooey-ness, sprinkled liberally with chocolate biscuit-y nutty nuggets, topped with a dollop of chocolate ice cream, and served with pieces of home made tim tam bar. Amazing. The other dessert of grilled pineapple with coconut sorbet and pistachio brittle was also devoured.
Just as we were about to burst, the chef’s home made anzac cookies came out as a final little treat. I would come here and buy a box of them to take away (I actually could, and i will next time). Buttery and crumbly with a smear of salted caramel in the middle.
With a final wave to chef Drew and a big thank you to manager Tian, we left feeling full, satisfied and praising this fine Aussie, meaty place. Not for every day, or indeed for vegetarians (we need some fresh green veg every now and again) but certainly a brilliant Supper Club.
Salted & Hung, 12 Purvis St, Singapore