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Sunday, 20 December 2015

Lunch at Open Farm Community @ Dempsey

130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Tel: 6471 0306

Part of the Spa Esprit Group, Open Farm Community is their initiative to kickstart local farming, letting the diners connect to the great nature and celebrating local spirit. This is a collaboration between celebrity chef Ryan Clift and award-winning food garden specialists Edible Garden City. Thus, it is not surprising to see that this cafe / restaurant is sitting on 35,000 square feet of green land, surrounded by local produce growing on tiny mounds of "hills" or flat green lands.   Yes, the greens that you eat would come from these home-grown lush greenery surrounding the restaurant.

Firstly, though, if you are wondering how to get here - it is right off Dempsey Hill (walk along the fountain leading towards The White Rabbit and Au Petit Salut - it is just a little further down. Cabbies mentioned that it is nearer to Botanical Gardens but it is up to you, how you want to locate this secluded, tranquil restaurant.

So, one passes by the green lands injected with some artistic sculptures and a retail store, before they find themselves gawking at the rustic and subtly elegant interior of the cafe restaurant. Alfresco area was where we chose to sit, since we could be close to nature; and the decor was thoughtfully beautiful. Best of all, weather that day was awesome - not too sunny and did not rain.

Iced water with fresh leaves and a serving dish were brought to the table after we placed our orders. Service ranged from being very polite and professional, to inefficient and slow, as business slowly picked up.  Allow a wait of at least 30 minutes for food to be served upon ordering. Oh, they open for lunch from 12.00pm to 3.00pm, and then re-open again in the evenings.

A round of drinks were ordered first. The OFC Gardens Cup Cocktail (SGD$20.00) - was setved in a cute metal cup, comprising Hendricks gin, lime juice, apple juice, cucumber and mint) - it was refreshing and redolent of cucumber's sharper fresh taste.

The Smashing Good Thyme Cocktail (SGD$18.00) was made up of Bacardi Rum, fresh lime, green peas, yellow chartreuse and thymes) - sweet and sour in an exotic blend.

The Avocado Mango Smoothie (SGD$10.00) was rich, creamy and smooth, slithering over the tongue with the sapid aroma of mango with underlying hint of buttery avocado.

OFC Pimms (SGD$16.00) was concocted with Pimms, ginger ale, strawberry, mint and lemon.

For food, we started with Warm Salad of Broccoli, Pine Nuts, Sugar Snap Peas Topped with Crumbled Feta and Minden Mint (SGD$19.00). This dish looked deceptively average and simple, but the first bite knocked us off our socks with the delicious taste and texture of the vegetables.

Next, Mangalica Pork Collar (SGD$35.00) served with Asian BBQ glaze, corn and speckled ragout with pickled cucumber - was, to quote *I, "the wagyu of pork". It was utterly succulent in texture, easy to slice through with a cut, almost melty when eaten, light in flavour and it just danced on the tongue. The zesty ragout was fresh and infused deliciously with the BBQ glaze. The pork crackling topping the meat was another addictive delicacy we could not stop chewing on, relishing in its crispiness.

Then the Potato Dumpling Gnocchi (SGD$27.00) with shredded pork sausage, sun-dried tomato jus and fresh fennel was served - lovely little pockets of sticky stuffed potato that were both tasty and chewy, engaging the palate immediately. Flavour was substantial without being too overpowering.

Following that, the Roasted Baby Chicken (SGD$27.00), served with braised leeks with hazelnut, butter and wild watercress salad. As young chicks went, this one was soft, tender and juicy, made more delicious by the sides it was cooked with. Hazelnuts and wild watercress salad added touches of crunch to the dish.

Finally, the thing I came here specially for  - Lemon Curd with Basil Ice-cream (SGD$17.00), a strudel-like dessert with layers of lemon curd piped between sable planks, served with gel of chia seeds soaked in lemon basil oil and of course, the basil ice-cream. The strudel-like dessert was gently crispy, breaking easily and neatly under the pressure of fork point, and the citrusy sweetness of the smooth lemon curd perked us up. The more subdue basil ice-cream was lightly exotic, exuding hints of sweetness between its "raw-er" green taste; and utterly silky in texture.

Overall, we enjoyed the dining experience at Open Farm Community greatly, reveling in the natural beauty of the place and the fresh goodness of the meticulously-prepared dishes.

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