The Palmary is a new opening in & around the Little India area, on Owen Road. From the outside it is a stunning pre-war, three-floor shophouse with the restaurant on the ground floor, a lounge bar on the second & private space at the top. It looks fantastic.
We only explored the restaurant, which is intimate to say the least. It is a tiny space, probably capable of taking no more than 20 diners & with a well designed bar at one end & simple white interior its a lovely, welcoming spot. As we entered there was some vibe music in the background & a great buzz to the place. We also immediately spotted the very fancy racing bicycle taking pride of place hung on the main wall, which I now know is in honour of the local famous bike shop that occupied this very building in the 70’s.
The menu is very, very tight. Six starters, four mains & two puds. I have always been a fan of concise menus & quite anti the opposite where you have to work through a bible to figure out what you want to eat. However, with this approach it does put extra expectation on quality. With such limited choice, I expect chef to be knocking out stunning dishes. On this, it was a mixed evening & I do feel that it is still in it’s learning stage as both waiting staff & chefs get to grips with running the place.
For starters I ordered the Sake Aburi, which was top grade salmon, torched & topped with a salad of mentaiko. It arrived within minutes of ordering & was put down in front of me as a large plate of sashimi. No torch had touched the dish. It also came out on its own with no sign of the other 2 starters for the other guests. After sending it back there was a bit of confusion & they then realised the error. It came back out, beautifully torched but again nothing came out as a whole, which was a recurring theme through the night so we all ended up eating as others were waiting to receive their dishes.
The salmon, once delivered as per menu, was wonderful. The butchery & quality was stunning & with a tiny bit of heat from the torch it was perfect. My mum had the Squid & Salsa which was pan-seared calamari & a mango salsa. It was slightly disappointing. It was lacking heat [temperature, not chilli] & a little overcooked. It could have done with being served straight out of the pan & felt it has been sitting around somewhere for too long. Charlie had the special which was a Prawn Bisque which was lacking in seasoning but otherwise a good, deep prawn flavour & she enjoyed it.
For the main courses, two of us went for The Butchers Cut, which was a hanger steak seared to a lovely medium rare with some roasted veg. The beef was excellent, served with a rich date sauce. The veg was forgettable – tepid & overcooked. Charlie ordered The Sea Bass, which was pan seared & served with asparagus & cauliflower. Sadly, it was not the delicious, sweet, clean tasting meat you would expect from Sea Bass but instead carried this somewhat muddy flavour & with fairly unremarkable accompaniments it was a disappointing dish.
So, all in all it was a mixed experience. For a small menu that is serving relatively basic dishes it certainly under delivered but there were sparks of hope with some fine cooking. We did share an enormous bowl of classic truffle fries which were excellent but much of the ‘serious’ cooking carried basic errors.
I hope that as time ticks on & they get into their groove they can sharpen up their act since its a beautiful space & certainly has potential to be a wonderful, fairly priced eatery in a great part of town.
The Palmary, 142 Owen Road, Singapore