After last year’s Circuit Breaker, Nutmeg & Clove at Ann Siang Road could not reopen during the pandemic as it only had a bar license, so it took temporary shelter at Willin Low’s Roketto with a months-long pop-up bar concept.
In December last year, owner Colin Chia reopened Nutmeg & Clove at Purvis Street with a newly minted restaurant license and a brand new mod-Singaporean sharing menu created in consultation with Low and executed by new head chef Lucas Ding (formerly of Restaurant Home and Flying Squirrel).
I’ve not visited the new Nutmeg & Clove until last week but Chia sent me his excellent weekends’ only lobster pao fan during the Phase Two Heightened Alert period in May and it piqued my curiosity about his new menu.
After working my way through Nutmeg & Clove’s new Makan menu, I realised that the lobster pao fan is not a one-hit wonder and although the said lobster dish is no longer available on the menu, Chia and Ding have conceived a robust menu of mod-Singaporean (sometimes mod-Asian) hits that could work as snacks to go with bar beverages or for a proper sit-down dinner.
I had the Chong Qing Chicken Wings ($12) via delivery in May but it was cold by the time it got to me. Needless to say, the mid joint wings tasted completely different when served fresh out of the fryer. These crispy wings are marinated in a house-made paste (also named Uncle Chilli) of both sambal and mala (spicy and numbing seasoning), deep-fried and then stir-fried with lashings of dried chillies so that you get both the tongue-numbing mala and mucus-inducing spiciness while chowing down on crispy wings. It’s much like a 辣子鸡 but better.
Ranking way up there with the wings is the Nutmeg & Clove Ice Cream sandwich ($12). I am not usually a fan of brownies and neither am I a fan of spirits. I was quite prepared to take just a bite of this brownie and Bourbon dessert out of courtesy but I was unable to stop after the first bite. This says a lot about how balanced this ice-cream is flavours-wise. Jointly created by Ding and home-grown ice-cream parlour, Tom’s Palette, the nutmeg and cloves-infused ice-cream speckled with Micheter’s Bourbon-soaked brownie arrives sandwiched in deep-fried Hainanese toast. You’ll know after taking the first bite that resistance is futile.
It’s hard to find good mee siam in Singapore. Dry mee siam? Even harder. Consider Ding’s lip-smacking Dry Mee Siam ($23) an exceptional find then because every strand of fried bee hoon on the plate dazzles with the intensity of the rempah it’s fried with. It tastes better yet with the finger-licking-good deep-fried soft shell crabs.
I love rendang but I wouldn’t even dream of mixing it with Mac And Cheese. Ding did and his Rendang Mac & Cheese ($18) with fork-tender beef cheek is first rate. It’s baffling how the vibrancy of the spices could meld with the mozzarella cheese to create a gooey bolognese-like East meets West whole. A perfect one-dish meal to go with a glass of their signature Roses & Lychees cocktail if you ask me.
If you like cocktails and are in the mood to discover, Nutmeg & Clove now serves an interesting zodiac-based menu of 12 cocktails in addition to its Hall of Fame menu of classics. Yes, the bandung drink-like Roses & Lychees is still the one to beat.
If you’re planning to visit, be sure to reserve well in advance as the restaurant and bar was packed to the rafters (on a socially-distanced basis) during our dinner on a Tuesday night.
8 Purvis Street, Singapore 188 587; +65-9389 9301; nutmegclove.com
© Evelyn Chen 2021
Please note that the reviews published on 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.