Gimmicks and fusion seems to be going out of fashion these days. Pretentious plating and combinations seem to be looking passé and diners are far more discerning now.
The revolution that was spearheaded by Moosehead seems to have trickled down. Raven and their own Maggie Joan's which we have just reviewed continue this marvellous trend.
What we want is not some famed celebrity chef coming to our shores to set up a lacklustre, second rate version of what you get in Europe or their place of origin. No, we want genuinely passionate cooks coming out from nowhere to dazzle us with their soulful cooking.
OPD exemplifies this in more ways than one. Chef Daniele's Italian heritage already bodes well, but his youthful age of under 30 betrays a level of skilful culinary abilities. His combination of ideas is not let down by a lack of technical execution. Rather, plates put out by Daniele show a high level of cooking competence.
Take this unlikely of bedfellows. Now I know why Italy and Mexico share the same flag colours, for they must be distant gastronomic cousins with this mix of well executed risotto with avocado and Mexican spiced laced flavours to work. And work it does, especially with a sexy poached egg on top to finish the colouring of the plate.
I utterly loved the crab cakes here. There is a gribiche made from gherkin and soft herbs that just gives this a lifting refreshing tone to the meaty textures that are both sweet and nicely seasoned. A little pea salad just to give the crab star some supporting power.
|Braised Beef Cheeks|
This is how I would cook beef cheeks at home. Chef Daniele uses sous vide to break the little fellow down, but either way it is toothpick tender. What is infinitely more important is that rustic, robust beef flavours that have been coaxed out of its reserved nature that makes this both bold and flavourful.
The requisite truffle mash may not be as spectacular, but it does its job well enough to give it that luscious and smooth creamy base for the beef cheeks to shine upon. Yes, that glaze is so glossy this dish hogs the gastronomic limelight.
|Housemade Taglierini with Lamb Ragout|
And I thought the beef cheeks could not be topped. I was so wrong. This addictive plate of pasta may look simple, but everything in it sings to the highest peaks of culinary music.
Pasta is well made and perfectly al dente, not to mention colourful. The ragout is simply sensational. Full of meaty flavours and thoroughly cooked to provoke every ounce of flavour from the ingredients, this is one of the best ragout in recent memory. Maybe in the longer one too.
Definitely, this will go up there as another of my favourite plates of the year. So, so delicious.
|Spiced Apple Crumble|
Normally, I am not a fan of apple crumble, but this Spiced Apple Crumble version really won me over. That buttery, golden crusty hue of a pastry just smells so freshly baked, you are literally transported to a rustic Italian or French countryside in no time.
The apples are properly cooked and sugared without being overpowering. Hence, that nice balance is further grounded by the slightly bitter and nutty spice of nutmeg to put things in pudding perspective.
|Passionfruit and Chocolate Tart|
Some flavour combinations are meant to just work. That citrusy hit of passionfruit to cut through the rich, dark chocolatey undertones of this tart cannot be doubted. But it is the bitter ganache that threatens to make me a dessert addict. Lovely, refreshing and rich dessert all at once.
Chef Daniele is also the head chef of Open Farm Community, which is a sister restaurant. This is the more posh version and if you prefer a place that is more chill and a certain cooler vibe, OPD might just work better.
The dishes are also cleverer and has a sense of playfulness about them. That is reflected in Chef Daniele's own bubbly personality as he introduces each plate to you. Granted, his is not the finished product just yet, as age will bring along a better sense of refinement and palate.
But for now, his genuine sense of scratch cooking shows not just dedication, but real passion as well. And when real cooking is involved, greatness is achieved.
Open Door Policy
19 Yong Siak Street