Bistro bars are a dime and a dozen in the city but for one with postcard perfect views of the Singapore River, SPRMRKT Kitchen & Bar is your ticket.
Opened since September 2016 at Robertson Quay, the European bistro bar perched one level above SPRMRKT Daily took over the second floor space vacated by Les Bouchons. Since March this year, when its former head chef left the business, the kitchen has been helmed by fresh-faced chef-owner, Joseph Yeo, a 30 something Singapore young man who learnt his chops at Les Amis and Waku Ghin and who co-owns SPRMRKT Daily downstairs and SPRMRKT at McCallum Street.
In a departure from the fine-dining fare that Yeo “grew up” with, SPRMRKT Kitchen & Bar offers a decidedly relaxed European cuisine neatly encapsulated in a two-page menu featuring a good mix of classics and some atypical bistro fare.
Nearing the tail end of its season in Spring, Japanese firefly squid ($24) marinated in soy and mirin is simply torched and served, its heady flavour tamed by the garlicky panko bread crumbs and smoky cauliflower puree that It arrives with.
If monkfish liver (S$22) is in season, order it; otherwise the dish of Spanish octopus and King prawn (S$24) combo is not too shabby either. The seafood duo is grilled a la plancha and dressed in a wine vinegar-perfumed escabeche dressing with capsicum. It’s a simple dish with minimal fanfare and the on-point execution of the seafood speaks for itself.
For a bistro, the starters do come across a tad “haute” portion-wise.
A tad heartier, Yeo’s upscale take on mac & cheese (S$42) is on the pricey side but it sure hits the spot: macaroni with three cheeses – as well as a hint of barely discernible mashed roasted pumpkin – and chopped Italian parsley alongside a generous serving of cold smoked Maine lobster tail topped with toasted garlic panko breadcrumbs.
Richer, heartier and more mellow, the sheets of velvety handmade pappardelle with braised oxtail, smoked Scarmoza cheese, malbec and parsley (S$32) is also a winner. Think of it as the Italian version of “mee hoon kueh” served dry with Italian condiments.
For mains, the 200 days grain-fed Australian bone-in beef ribs ($94) will appeal to big groups looking for something to share. Although slightly under-salted, the hunk bears a lovely char with tender reddish pink insides. What’s appealing is that it arrives with an array of sides sufficient for two to three including mushrooms (button, shimeiji and oyster), roasted rosemary new potatoes, vine-ripened tomato jus and bearnaise sauce.
We generally do not enjoy roulade (S$28) but Yeo makes an excellent rendition of it here. Brined chicken thigh is rolled skin side up with spinach and finely chopped button mushrooms, slow-cooked and seared before serving to give the skin has a lovely crisp. It arrives on a blanket of smoked curried cauliflower puree with baby asparagus tempura and a drizzle of intensely savoury chicken jus.
This bistro offers some interesting propositions, not least a quiet setting for which to have dinner with the Singapore River as backdrop and some well-executed dishes which we wouldn’t mind returning for. And if you have a sweet tooth, the earl grey crème brulee (S$16) is really quite irresistible, even if you are not a fan of earl grey tea.
41 Robertson Quay, #02-01, Singapore 238 236 | +65-9736 4170 | sprmrkt.com.sg