When chef Rishi Naleendra decided to name his restaurant Cheek By Jowl, he wasn’t kidding. A small restaurant located in Telok Ayer, you are literally sat very close together or “cheek by jowl” only inches away from the table next to you. Highly popular with the local work crowd during lunchtime and recently awarded a one Michelin star, Cheek By Jowl serves modern Australian food that is simple and delicious.
Although the food is fine dining style, the restaurant itself has a very casual, laid-back atmosphere always buzzing full of chatter. There is a full a-la-carte menu, tasting menus, a vegetarian menu and snack menu as well as set menus for lunch and dinner in which you can sample a selection of their offerings and wash it all down with a glass or two of wine from their organic and biodynamic wine selection.
The set lunch menu changes periodically and when I went for a quick lunch in March I chose to have the Roast Pumpkin main course and the Plum dessert. Their set lunch is good value where you can get two courses for $30, three courses for $38 or five courses for $58 which is great considering a main course on their a-la-carte menu is already around $28 or more (prices have since gone up though to $38 for two courses and $46 for three courses).
The Roast Pumpkin main consisted of spiced cashew nut sauce, fried kale, toasted pumpkin seeds, mashed up pumkin and a pumkin slice. The dish was really tasty with lots of different textures and flavours but the portion was tiny and barely occupied a quarter of the plate. I know that negative space is all the rage right now when plating food but for a main course this was a little extreme. Nevertheless it was a simple and beautifully balanced dish that I really enjoyed eating.
Fortunately for the friend I went with, her Barramundi main course was a little more filling.
My Plum dessert consisted of plum pieces and coconut sorbet which was topped with a burnt coconut husk meringue and sprinkled with Sichuan pepper. It was definitely a very unusual dessert and I’d never had burnt coconut husk before which unfortunately wasn’t to my liking. The burnt coconut husk meringue had a strange taste and I felt that this component of the dessert didn’t really bring anything to the dish apart from a little sweetness and crunch. The plum pieces that were in plum sauce were extremely tart, maybe a little too tart, but this was counteracted with some of the sweetness of the coconut sorbet which was smooth, creamy and delicious and the Sichuan pepper which added a bit of zing to the dessert. It’s one of those desserts that you’re either going to love or hate and unfortunately for me it was the latter.
I had a latte ($5.50) to finish which was more like a Café Au Lait, where was the steamed milk??
Overall the lunch was a little bit hit-and-miss for me but I’m willing to give the place another go as the Roast Pumpkin main I had was so good. Next time I’ll order the three course menu!
Cheek By Jowl
Address: 21 Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069620 (Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer)
Tel: 6579 2020
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10.30pm, Saturday: 6pm – 10.30pm
Table reservations can be made via Chope.
Hope you’ve enjoyed my Cheek By Jowl review, please feel free to leave a comment below with your own review of the restaurant or if you have any questions!