Oxwell & Co. (Singapore) by Mark Sargeant

Setting

The facade of Oxwell & Co @ Ann Siang Road

Judging by the recent departure of head chefs from his F&B empire, Gordon Ramsay ought to spend less time anchoring TV shows and work harder at retaining his key people. Having said that, Ramsay’s loss is our gain and the latest UK chef to join Singapore’s hotbed of new eateries is Mark Sargeant, who spent 13 years with Gordon Ramsay Holdings – including 7 years as head chef at Michelin-starred Claridge’s – before leaving in 2009.

A collaboration between multiple parties – including the owners of groovy design-driven furniture retailer, Fred Lives Here, and Luke Whearty, former head bar tender of Der Raum (Melbourne) – Sargeant’s Singapore foray is set in a triple-storey conservation shop house at the intersection of Club Street and Ann Siang Road.

The ground floor bar scene @ Oxwell & Co.

Oxwell & Co’s quaint dining room on level 2

At 5,000 square feet spread over 3 floors, it’s a huge space. But thanks to the design talents of The Stripe Collective, Oxwell is tastefully furnished with reproduced classic pieces and these are augmented with a modicum of cool vintage furnishings. Antique exposed bulbs dangling on wires barely illuminate the roomy ground floor bar that features a 300-year-old Ceylon railway sleeper bar while the quaint second-floor 36-seat dining room looks like a page off Elle Décor with floor-to-ceiling French windows and charming fabric-shade pendant hanging lamps. Big groups will do well to book the third floor Victorian-inspired private dining room that takes 14 pax.

What to expect

Some say Oxwell serves modern British cuisine. But its menu does not feature Sargeant’s contemporary take on fish & chips or hot dogs (not at the moment, at least) and neither will you find any Anglo-Indian dishes like chicken tikka masala.

As Whearty (head bartender and general manager of Oxwell) rightly puts, it’s “humble” cuisine that’s “produce-driven” (the herb garden on the upper floor is proof).

Befitting this philosophy, Oxwell’s honest menu of straightforwardly simple dishes will not raise any eyebrows; new-to-Singapore head chef, Alex Farrow, who last held the position of sous chef at Playboy Club (London), executes it with aplomb nonetheless.

Yorkshire pudding @ Oxwell & Co.

Yorkshire pudding (S$8), a Brit. Sunday lunch staple, arrives as an appetizer – golden brown and crispy on the outside but all fluffy within. While perfect on its own, Oxwell serves it with a dollop of sweet and mellow roasted garlic puree.

Prawn cocktail @ Oxwell & Co.

In yet another nod to Britain, prawn cocktail (S$22) – one of UK’s most popular appetizers from the 1960s to the 1980s – appears with chunks of succulent Malaysian prawns tossed with lettuce in a rich Marie Rose seafood sauce. The execution of this dish is faultless but one wonders if this 60s classic will work with Singapore’s famously fussy diners. Even if the ingredients are fresh, the entire assemble seems less-than-inspiring.

Heritage tomato salad @ Oxwell & Co.

The heritage tomato salad (S$18), on the other hand, is a winner. Wedges of heirloom tomatoes in different hues tossed with crushed olives, goat’s cheese and basil leaves – what’s not to like about it?

It gets better with mains and desserts.

Spatchcock chicken with lemon and thyme @ Oxwell & Co.

Pan-fried salmon @ Oxwell & Co.

Spatchcock chicken grilled with lemon and thyme (S$30) yields beautifully moist and succulent flesh while pan-fried salmon (S$35) is a hearty offering of just-cooked salmon with still-crisp skin lounging in its own jus with crushed new potatoes and chopped asparagus. Both are simple but well done.

Lemon posset @ Oxwell & Co.
Cold chocolate & passion fruit fondant

Leave room for the excellent puddings (or desserts), not least the lemon posset (S$12), a lemon-flavoured milky curd bath crowned with lashings of raspberries served in a jar alongside shortcrust biscuit. Don’t miss the cold chocolate and passion fruit fondant (S$12) for its refreshing – somewhat crispy – take on chocolate fondant. The strawberry eton mess will have to wait until our next trip.

Oxwell & Co. | 5 Ann Siang Road | 65-6438 3984 | www.oxwellandco.com

© Evelyn Chen 2013

Please note that the reviews published in this blog are sometimes hosted. I am under no obligation to review every restaurant I’ve visited. If I do, the reviews are 100% my own.

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