Monday, June 20, 2016

Open Farm Community - Improving on Greatness

Improving on greatness sounds almost impossible in today's culinary landscape, when most establishments are struggling just to maintain any form of consistency.

My first visit to Open Farm Community had already been a revelatory one. Chef Daniele insists on making all his pastas fresh, as well as his sauces and even staples like cous cous.

That kind of dedication and commitment is anything but a distant memory in every other eatery.

Yet, his insistence on freshness is one of the reasons that this restaurant is so revered in this industry. And nestled comfortably within the edge of Dempsey means it is just far away from the concrete jungle to suggest a beautiful garden serenity when you dine here.

Beetroot Fregola and Crispy Frog Legs

His recent menu revamp has a lot to do with infusing more local flavours and touches to his already exemplary cooking. The beetroot doused fregola has a playful bite to it but it is the wonderfully seasoned frog legs that take centerstage on this plate.

Almost too oversized for a frog leg, the bountiful protein gives bite after bite of gastronomic joy with its slight sweetness and carefully crusted exterior and flavourful interior. An utter joy.

Seafood Risotto

Chef Daniele's latest risotto dish ranks among the best out there. Not least because his risotto technique is probably at the pinnacle of commercial risotto cooking, but also his flair for embellishing the classic Italian rice dish with a sensible and appropriate range of ingredients that matches the sublime risotto finish.

His mantecare is also perfect, that luxurious cheesy and creamy finish to match the perfectly cooked grains. The addition of cuttlefish and chorizo is also an inspired decision, marrying a surf and turf combination that is anchored by the gravitas of the risotto rice. Possibly the best risotto dish you can eat out now.

Pesto Trofie

Another of his brilliant housemade pastas, the trofie has a tadpole shaped structure that is marvellously tossed in his equally sublime pesto sauce. The freshness of the basil comes out perfectly in each strand but it is the addition of roasted pumpkin chunks that elevates this dish further with a rustic sweetness that matches the herb perfumed sauce with aplomb.

Coconut Laksa Barramundi

On paper, I tend to be highly skeptical of foreigns chefs attempting local fusion dishes. But this is a rare exception. Chef's understanding of our hawker fare is accurately translated on this beautiful fish dish.

The laksa sauce is freshly made from scratch and the intensity and smoothness of the laksa sauce is rightly balanced with equal amounts of laksa spices and an indulgent coconut milk ratio. The spicy potato cake is a perfect hybrid of bergedil and oak and that alone, is worthy of any gastronomer's attention.

The choice of barramundi did worry me initially, but pairing with the punchy and standout laksa sauce, it makes perfect sense as the less oily fish is a perfect protein sponge to soak up all the spicy goodness.

Chicken Katsu Burger

Not many burgers can impress, but this one rises to the top of the proverbial cream. From the housemade buns that have been nicely toasted, to the perfectly crispy and seasoned chicken katsu, and the bright, tangy Japanese mayo, everything just works.

The burger is stunning, delicious and addictive. And that is all you can ever ask for a good burger. And yes, it looks equally stunning too.

Chef Daniele has clearly surpassed himself with this new range of menu items and his addition of more local ingredients and characteristics shows that he is truly ingrained in our culinary heritage.

Coupled with his eye for a simpler but no less gorgeous plating, his new menu threatens to upset the balance of the more established boys out there.

And oh yes, his food is clearly Michelin quality without breaking the bank for an over forty-bucks plate of pasta. Then again, the proof is in his cooking and with such creativity and craft, it does not really matter if it makes the actual Michelin cut or not.

Because Open Farm Community and Chef Daniele's cuisine is simply better than that. I certainly look forward to his next menu revamp where I am confident he can further improve on his already brilliant cuisine.

Open Farm Community
130E Minden Road

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