Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (Singapore)

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Setting

The open-concept kitchen at OCF

Amid the deluge of casual eating joints, a new French fine diner is quietly making an impression within the confines of an atmospheric 1827 neo-Palladian building on the northern banks of the Singapore River.

Named for the never-before heard-of first wife of Sir Stamford Raffles (“Raffles”), Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (“OCF”) is a joint project between A Thousand Tales (the folks behind Bar Stories, The Crostini Bar and Table Manners, amongst others) and the Timbre Group.

Olivia, the stunning private dining room at OCF

Occupying the former back office space of the Timbre Group, OCF sits on the upper floor of the Art House*, atop Timbre @ Arts House. After a period of restoration and renovation, it opened in January 2013 to reveal a broody – if elegant – persona with charcoal-grey walls enlivened by whitewashed French windows and ornate ceiling cornices. Nifty pieces of low-key dining furniture (courtesy of White House Living, the furniture arm of A Thousand Tales) adorn the 50-seat dining hall framed on one side by a platform (once used for court proceedings but now doubles up as a stage for live performances) and, one the other, by a buzzy open concept kitchen overhung with bronze tinted mirror panels. It’s a sight to behold, more so if you’ve booked Olivia, the stunning but equally understated private dining room that overlooks the Singapore River.

What to expect

Expect to be swept off your feet by executive chef, Jonathan Koh, 31. 
In-season European produce for your viewing pleasure

Well, not by Koh, per se, but his light and wholesome modern French fare that showcases a modicum of restraint and demonstrates the young chef’s nose for sniffing out in-season European produce like celeriac, white asparagus, cevennes onions and Jerusalem artichoke.

Koh learnt his ropes at Raffles Grill before going on to apprentice with Michelin stars-decorated restaurants in France including Le Jardin De Sens and Villa Augusta. At OCF, Koh rises to the occasion with a menu of exquisite creations that eschews the fluff of molecular drama and, instead, puts a singular focus on artisan ingredients. 

The best way to sample these is via one of 3 tasting menus: menu Olivia (5 courses, S$118++) for light eaters, menu Stamford (7 courses, S$148++) for carnivores and fish lovers, and a terroir-inspired menu (7 courses, S$148++) for vegetable lovers (note: not vegetarians); an a la carte menu is available too.


We sat through a 4-hour dinner paired with copious amounts of wine proffered by Maître’d, Novalan Dorassamy (former sommelier at Raffles Grill and Restaurant de Joel Robuchon) and are completely chuffed with the parade of blue ribbon plates from Koh’s Spring repertoire.

Potato capellini topped with Oscietra caviar from the terroir menu

Cevennes onion with 63 degree poached egg on warm puff pastry

From Spring’s terroir menu (hands down our favorite), highlights are aplenty and these include oodles of potato capellini topped with glistening pearls of Oscietra caviar; a dollop of caramelized Cevennes onion adorned with 63 degrees poached egg, both served resting on a disc of warm puff pastry drizzled with poultry roasting jus; and the plate of a chive-flecked rice-less risotto (the grains are sculpted from celeriac) perfumed with rich lobster broth. They are awe-inspiring.

Kampachi with parsley perfume from menu Stamford
Dry aged American prime striploin

Meat and seafood lovers, despair not. Menu Stamford promises a handsome treat including a choice of fish – blue nose cod or Kampachi – as well as your pick of meat – dry aged American prime striploin or Yorkshire pork rack – in addition to a parade of exemplary dishes like deep fried frog’s legs basking in Jerusalem artichoke puree with poultry jus and 2 servings of sweets.

“Bubble tea”

Which brings us to one of our favourite topics – the desserts. No, we don’t have a sweet tooth but it’s close to impossible to resist them when the kitchen dispatches endearing favourites that sound like “tiramisu” (albeit Koh’s “spring edition”) and “bubble tea”. We shan’t spoil the surprise for you. While Koh is no iconoclastic chef, he has a penchant for sweet surprises and we’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg.

OCF

1 Old Parliament Lane #02-02 | 65-6333 9312 | www.ocf-singapore.com.

* Gazetted a national monument in 1992, the building once served as a courthouse, the grounds of government offices and the Old Parliament House before it became the current Arts House. 


For picture story, visit www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand

You may also like: Best French restaurants in Singapore.

© Evelyn Chen 2013

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