|Bar food? Wow!!!|
When a cocktail bar makes it to this blog, there can only be one explanation: its bar menu must be pretty darn good.
So when we graced the newly debuted Anti:dote on the ground floor of Fairmont hotel where we were greeted by a glitzy bar counter, a gargantuan 26,000-piece Borosilicate glass chandelier and cool glass standing tables, we did not quite expect our pre-dinner cocktail tasting to steer right into dinner paired with cocktails.
|Bannie Kang (left), Carlos Montobbio (middle) and Tom Hogan (right)|
Don’t get us wrong; we love the cocktails. It’s not often that one gets young industry heavyweights like Tom Hogan, the bar’s head bar tender, and Bannie Kang (both of whom emerged two of three top winners in Singapore’s sixth instalment of Diago Reserve World Class) to mix inspiring cocktails and tonics. And at Anti:dote, Hogan and Kang craft these with house-made preparations (bitters and flavoured liquors), medicinal plants like cinchona and gentian and herbs grown from the hotel’s edible garden.
But when a bar fields its food menu with a Barcelona-native head chef in tow, you know that there’s more than meets the eye.
Carlos Montobbio, one-time alum of El Cellerde Can Roca (albeit briefly for just 6 months) and San Sebastian’s Zubero, shares the stage with his fellow craftsmen/women. For Anti:dote, he has distilled a menu of bite-size modern tapas fare (of which about 25% are classically Spanish) – categorized modestly as “pickings”, “small plates”, “sweets” and “petit” – that belie its gastronomic ambition.
Crisp Parmesan pizza (S$13) is a must-have: pesto, tomato powder, garlic and parsley flakes, olive oil caviar and micro basil on a wafer-thin sheet of Parmesan crisp that bursts forth with hearty pizza flavours without cloying.
Equally if not more impressive, clam sphere (S$13) offers heart-warming comfort of light and dreamy clam chowder-like broth encased in a sphere topped with crispy bacon bits and a drizzle of parsley oil.
|Yellow fin tuna, Japaleno ponzu, Keluga caviar|
The yellow fin tuna (S$16) is also a standout. The petite blocks of sashimi are served in an intoxicating Jalapeno-accented ponzu consommé; crowning the fish are pearls of briny Kaluga caviar and refreshing kaffir lime leaves.
|Foie gras, puff pastry|
Never say no to foie gras, not least Montobbio’s crowd pleasing caramelized foie gras (S$18) that arrives as square cubes resting on crisp and toasty puff pastry.
A trio of plump and juicy Shigoku oysters (S$18) also gets nods of approval for the unusual combination of sweet, piquant and vibrant flavours from the passion fruit jelly, wasabi cream and chopped cucumber.
|Veal cheek bao with Perigord back truffle|
Thanks to his colleagues from Szechuan Court, Montobbio also fields an incredibly soft and fluffy bao(Chinese steamed bun) teeming with veal cheek and caramelized shallots within (S$20 for a basket of 2). Served crowned with Perigord black truffle, the bao wins raves for the chef’s creative Western take on a classic Chinese snack. On the downside, the hearty flavour of the veal cheek mask the earthiness of the black truffle into oblivion.
|Scrambled egg, uni, Kaluga caviar|
In the same vein, the chef serves tongues of sea urchin (S$25) on a bed of scrambled egg that robs the Japanese delicacy of its star quality – even the pearls of Kaluga caviar do nothing to salvage its overall appeal.
|Insanely delicious cocktail – try the Corpse Reviver #2, Treat of Kings and Tonic #1|
Come what may, Montobbio has clearly made a point that not all bar food are created equal. If you do swing by for the insanely delicious cocktails (not least Corpse Reviver #2, Treat of Kings and Tonic #1), Montobbio will be alongside Hogan and Kang, delivering their take on antidote to keep your hunger and/or thirst at bay.
Even if you’re not planning to imbibe, Montobbio’s toothsome creations are worth the schlep.
Anti:dote | Level 1, Fairmont Singapore, 80 Bras Basah | 6431 5315
© 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.