Much has been raved about Open Farm Community since its inception.
A space that so emphatically embraces nature, an honest farm-to-table (animals excluded) concept, splendid recipes and diners had even professed big love for their flatware, Open Farm Community is much more than just a dining establishment.
When it first opened it was all over social media.
But I was naturally skeptical, for just like Malaysia, there is a new cafe popping up daily promising all sorts of heavens in Singapore as well.
Because the proof of the pudding is in the eating, I had to visit personally of course.
Thus it was my good fortune that Open Farm Community launched their new menu last month and I happened to be in Singapore during the same period.
I have my good friend thesilverchef to thank for this session, as well as the good PR folk of this wonderful establishment.
Manned by a young yet unquestionably skilled Italian chef who called Singapore home since 2012, Chef Daniele has certainly shown much dexterity in fusing local ingredients into drool-worthy plates of hearty fare.
The place won me over instantly from the moment I stepped down from the car at the car park.
Gosh, am I still in the city?
Apparently I was, with Orchard merely a few kilometres away.
Open Farm Community was akin to a greenhouse in the city, but bigger. Home on a sprawling 35,000 square feet of lush greenery with gardens sprouting herbs and vegetable produce, which in one way or another, a contribution to your dinner plates, OPC offers a restaurant with a cocktail bar, a small retail store doubling up as a cafe and retail outlet while the outdoors provide recreational space for bowling, yoga session and a sand playground for kids.
It is truly a welcoming space for adults, hipsters and kids.
Surroundings aside, did the food live up to the hype?
Well, I’m glad to report that the ones I’ve tasted that evening surpassed expectations!
As we sipped on potent cocktails and refreshing blend of juices, Chef sent us plates of appetisers studded with frog legs on a bed of purple starch and green potions to be poured over wobbly eggs.
Yes, all the wonderful colors of nature.
We lapped them up in a flurry, for besides whetting our appetites with its gorgeous colors and plating, every dish was outstanding in its flavours profile.
The Sweet Corn & Basil Soup, Charred Baby Corn served with Warm Pita Bread (SGD19) boast of a creamy sweetness expected of corn, but punctuated with the pleasant bouquet of basil. Quite an interesting rendition I must say, and most pleasant til the last drop.
Even more outstanding was the Watercress Soup, Soft Poached Hen’s egg, Crispy Kale, Olive Oil Caviar (SGD19). It was a refreshing deviation from the common vegetable (broccoli/pumpkin/carrot) soups.
That said, it is an acquired taste due to its notable saltish, ‘green‘ aftertaste, mildly bitter, which is a trait of watercress, I was told.
I loved it though and wished that I could nourish myself with a bowl of this every day. This is akin a superfood dish in liquid form!
Meanwhile the Crispy Jurong Frog Legs (no, not Geylang), Beetroot fregola pasta, Sour Sheep Cheese was alike a mini main course for me.
The protein – 2 juicy frog legs that was almost as sizeable as chicken drumlets plus the fregola pasta was filling as it was rich with cheese.
Being Italian, Chef Daniele was rightfully proud to showcase his pasta dishes.
Steering away from the ordinary spaghetti and angelhair, we had trofie (yes, I see your “what?” expression) and risotto, both made from scratch in-house.
Minden Road Pesto Trofie, Potatoes, French beans, Pumpkin Chunks (SGD26++).
The pesto is for sale (I think I saw it in the cafe) and I should stock up half a dozen on my next trip!
It was redolent with basil, thick and wonderfully well-rounded in its pungency, the best I’ve ever had.
The short twisted pasta had a nice chew to it and each wriggly stalk was slick with this wondrous pesto. Needless to say, every mouthful left me wanting more, which says a lot, since I normally avoid pasta like the plague.
Carnaroli risotto, chorizo, cuttlefish, ebi, green peas, saffron threads, crispy serrano (SGD30++).
“The perfect risotto“, as crowned by the risotto-snob thesilverchef.
I concurred, for this was the best risotto I’ve had on this side of Asia.
The carbs aside, we were most agreeable with the soft, supple cuttlefish, the heavier taste profiles of the chorizo and serrano and how everything came together in harmony for every sublime spoonful.
Mains were equally delightful and it was a synonymous agreement among us that the outstanding dishes were the burger, the fish and the lamb shank.
Personally I liked the pork rib as well. It could be because I love pork in general, but truly, the rib was not unpleasant. It just couldn’t hold a candle to the other more impressive mains.
Roasted Short Rib, Buttery Green Asparagus, Crispy Kuzu Noodles, Vietnamese pho flavours (SGD37).
The inspiration for the ribs was the Vietnamese pho, Chef Daniele had explained.
The rib was marinated in a concentrate of the same herbs and condiments for the pho. A sous-vide process followed, resulting in uniformed tender texture.
More of the marinade was coated on the rib before it was seared upon order. Plated on a bed of beansprouts (pho components remember?) which was tossed in lime, fish sauce and herbs, this was a rather unique pork rib dish worth trying if you love your ribs.
But I can’t deny that it would be the chicken burger that I’ll gladly reorder on my next visit.
For me to choose chicken over pork is a peculiar occurrence so you can be sure that this chicken burger is worth every penny and every calorie.
Now, how could a chicken burger be so good?
Well, when you have a chef who knows how to throw together the best components to bring forth the best flavours in every bite, that’s how!
Chicken Katsu Burger, Carrot Spaghetti, White Cabbage Chiffonade, Curly Fries, Lime & Japanese Mayo (SGD-TBA).
The inimitable tang combined with that savoury creaminess from the lime mayo drenched julienned cabbage and carrots made this a ‘coleslaw‘ to remember.
I’m definitely going to attempt this at home!
The mayo worked to add moisture to the crispy chicken katsu which was sandwiched between house-made spring onion bun in a subtle hue of jade.
The spring onion aroma was subtle too, but discernible enough to play its role in elevating the overall flavours of the burger.
Coconut Laksa Barramundi, Crushed Potato Cake, Bok Choy (SGD29).
The laksa gravy straddled the ideal balance of creaminess and spice and was perfect to mop up with the thick cut of sweet, flaky barramundi.
The gravy was homemade in the kitchen (of course!), just as the spicy potato cake was. A clever variant of “bergedil“, components of this tasty potato cake were laksa spices, oats and well, potatoes.
Yes, this is the kind of laksa for me!
Heavy eaters should order the Braised Lamb Shank with the homemade couscous, olives, capers, green peas (SGD35).
This was perfectly tender and ultimately, a fulfilling meat dish, both in portion and taste.
Desserts lovers will be very well pleased as there plenty offered by OFC, likewise with Asian elements thrown in. I was surprised to see gula melaka (coconut palm sugar) and the spiced pumpkin cake looked like “malaiko” at first glance.
Spiced pumpkin cake, butternut ice cream, gula melaka jelly, pomelo, garden herbs (SGD18++).
For this dessert, I loved the ice cream but found the jellies too sweet.
But of course, the dessert components were meant to be enjoyed together to fully appreciate the varying textures and temperature of each element – crunch from the pumpkin seeds crumble, creamy cold ice cream, spongy cake and burst of fruitiness from the pomelo and orange wedges.
Compressed watermelon discs, mexican tarragon ice cream, rock melon snow, chocolate soil (SGD18++).
As expected from Chef Daniele, a simple looking dessert doesn’t mean it was simply done.
The watermelon wasn’t your typical cut watermelon. Chef had them each soaked in different solutions so they came with a flavour each.
I remembered that one was poached in some form of Mexican tarragon soup. The rest was lost on me as I was suffering from food coma and well, too busy stuffing the remainders of desserts into my mouth.
Food was exemplary, the service efficient, the location close to the city yet the surroundings and ambience offers a natural oasis away from the concrete jungle with its soothing calm, eye-pleasing greenery and wide, open space.
I would confidently recommend dining at Open Farm Community to all my readers and friends as I truly loved the concept and the food I’ve had.
I would personally return soon for more of Chef Daniele’s lovely food!
Open Farm Community
130E Minden Road,
Tel: + 65 6471 0306
Waze: “Open Farm Community”.
Mon – Fri: Lunch: 12:00 pm – 4:00 pm.
Dinner: 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
Sat – Sun/PH: Lunch 11:00 am – 4:00 pm.
6:00 pm – 10:00 pm.
Mon – Sun: 8:00 am – 9:00 pm