Given the exceptional quality of The Chefs Table, I am surprised that it doesn’t come up more frequently in conversation as one of Singapore’s must-try venues. We had heard about it from some good friends who claimed it was their absolute favourite but other than that it had passed somewhat under the radar. Given this lack of expectation, it was all the more satisfying to discover what may well have become our new number 1 dinner spot. We both loved everything about it.
The Chefs Table is on busy Tras Street which is conveniently located in central town. It also happens to sit next door to the Jekyll & Hyde bar who make what I think have to be the finest martinis anywhere in Singapore. So if you want to make a night of it, as we did, head there first for pre-dinner drinks.
The restaurant really does live up to its name. The chefs, diners & waiting staff merge into one, in what is the most open-plan restaurant we have ever dined in. The kitchen sits at one end but is a mere extension of the dining area. There are no boundaries, borders or separation, so much so that in visiting the [very cool] bathrooms takes you on a wander straight through the bustle of the kitchen. So, no matter where you are you feel very much part of the action & it creates an intimate informality that is very rare. Throughout the dining the food is also brought to the table by a combination of chefs & waiters so there is no hierarchy or roles here. Just wonderful, talented teams of people that want to deliver first-class food to their guests.
The concept is also a lot of fun & very practical. You are given a long list of seasonal ingredients. No order to them and no menu – just ingredients. You are simply asked what you don’t eat, whether you would like 4, 6 or 8 courses & then sit back and let the chefs take care of everything else. We are told that the list changes frequently depending on what is in season & available. The ingredients come from all over the world, but there is definitely a European vibe to the cooking, inspired no doubt by Head Chef Stephan Zoisl who hails from Austria but has worked across Europe & the US. He’s a seriously talented chef that has learnt his craft from some of the world’s best restaurants, including a stint at The Fat Duck in Bray, UK. He is also, as we discovered, a friendly warm host.
We opted for the 6 course menu, which was perfect & we would recommend. It was also true to its word. No fancy palette cleansers, snacks, bread baskets or petit fours here – just 6 exceptional plates. Don’t get me wrong, I love all the little extra bits & pieces but at no point did we feel we had missed out on anything when the variety & quality is this good.
We started with torched mackerel on a beetroot buttermilk cream with little potato crisps. Beautiful, delicate fish with crispy skin from the torching, served with the acidity of beetroot & some crunchy texture from crisps. What a start. This was followed by the mind-blowing Italian burrata that came with toasted pumpkin seeds, parsley oil & salty Iberico ham. Simple ingredients, wonderfully sourced & perfectly balanced. After this came a knockout fish dish. Alaskan halibut in a white wine & Pernod veloute, with white asparagus. It was light, buttery & the translucent halibut was a masterclass in fish cookery. The fourth dish was probably the only one that has room for improvement. Braised lamb with corn espuma, egg yolk & generous shavings of truffle. It was certainly tasty but wow it was rich & could have done with something fresh on the plate to cut through all that rich gooiness. The second meat course offered more balance. Spanish pork neck & braised cheek served with celeriac puree & burnt leek ash. The two pork cuts worked so well together with the lean neck offering a lighter protein alongside the rich, deep tasting cheek. The puree was indulgent & delicious. The meal was brought to a close with a fabulous chocolate & yuzu parfait, with chocolate cookie crumble, freeze dried pomelo, pink grapefruit & an orange sauce. With all that chocolate, the sharp pomelo citrus, grapefruit & orange made for an extraordinary pud. I’ll remember that one for a while.
The 6 courses were washed down with a tasty Austrian pinot noir, which for a restaurant of this quality, didn’t break the bank as most fine-dining Singaporean wine-lists tend to.
The whole experience really is memorable. It’s a great concept, with first-class food, served in an innovative, modern venue by staff that really care & take pride in everything that is coming to tables. We‘ll be back!
Chef’s Table, 61 Tras Street, Singapore