Chefs From Michelin-starred Restaurants Are Opening Casual Offshoots

These chefs from Michelin-starred restaurants are taking a breather from the high-octane world of fine-dining with their casual offshoots.
by Fabian Loo

Photo: Alkove, Hortus and Café Natsu

1. Hortus

Photo: Hortus

Michael Wilson, the chef of one-Michelin-starred Marguerite at the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, has transformed the space above the contemporary restaurant into a Mediterranean eatery engulfed in greenery. At Hortus, Wilson presents everyday dishes he enjoys eating. The menu leans towards sharing plates, including dips of smoky muhammara made with charcoal-roasted bell peppers, hummus served with pillow-soft pita bread, and yellowtail kingfish crudo dressed in a bright concoction of mint, olive oil, and bergamot. The seafood — grilled octopus and Corsican sea bass — is unfussy, simply garnished with herbs and spices so the natural flavours shine. The benefit of having two concepts in one place: Wilson reduces food wastage by upcycling ingredients across both eateries. For instance, pea pods from Marguerite’s kitchen might end up in gin infusions at Hortus.

2 Flower Dome, Gardens By The Bay, 01-09;

2. Alkove

Credit: Alkove

After seven years of serving contemporary European at one-Michelin-starred Alma by Juan Amador, chef Haikal Johari has taken his culinary expertise to a bistro in the heartlands. Last November, he opened Alkove in Kovan to serve casual French fare. Having worked at such French fine-dining restaurants as Joël Robuchon and Les Amis, Johari has a solid grasp of Gallic cuisine. The menu features bistro classics such as croque monsieur made with Bayonne ham and Comte cheese, duck confit, and chicken vin blanc (chicken in white wine). Some dishes, such as gula melaka canelés and miso-infused French onion soup, celebrate Asian flavours.

2 Kovan Road, 01-10 Simon Plaza;

3. Café Natsu

Credit: Café Natsu

Chef Lewis Barker is known for his innovative contemporary European cuisine at the one-Michelin-starred Sommer. At Café Natsu, the British chef combines his love for café culture and Japanese produce. Natsu, “summer” in Japanese, has two outlets at Joo Chiat and Dhoby Ghaut and offers a refreshing take on brunch staples by incorporating Asian ingredients into Western dishes. Menu highlights include poached eggs drizzled with miso-tinged hollandaise and wasabi spinach, a decadent wagyu sando served with togarashi-spiced fries, and shio kombu gnocchi made with kabocha pumpkin. Save space for the moreish mochi fried doughnuts with salted Hokkaido milk ice cream.

283 Joo Chiat Road & 182 Clemenceau Avenue;

4. Musette

Credit: Musette

Synching with Singapore’s drive to go car-lite, the team behind one-Michelin-starred modern European restaurant 28@Wilkie has started a bicycle-friendly café. Located in the former Thye Hong Biscuit and Confectionary Factory, Musette is a minute away from Alexandra Park Connector, a cycling haunt. With its wrap-around windows, diners can keep an eye on their prized mounts from the café. Simple interior décor underscores the theme with a few bicycles scattered about. Japanese flavours are prevalent with menu items such as pork or tamago katsu sando and shio koji-marinated chicken breast club sandwich. Cyclists looking for a major refuel will also find hearty food in rice bowls topped with miso cod, crispy kakiage, or wagyu ribeye.

2 Leng Kee Road, 01-05;

This story originally published on The Peak Singapore.

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