OCF French Restaurant is a gem I can possibly include in a guide of “Singapore’s Most Romantic Restaurants” and “Top Business Lunches in Singapore, for modern French cuisine nested in the Old Art House building (above Timbre).
Romance is in the air even before stepping into the restaurant itself, with the colonial building being a favourite spot for wedding photos for its elegant façade (In fact, I saw a couple friend take their pre-nuptial shots outside just before my lunch. Congrats by the way!)
The interior takes on a classy grey colour scheme; a baby grand piano sits at the back of the restaurant, for live jazz performances by the talented Michaela Therese serenading the house every Friday and Saturday evenings.
The name ‘OCF’ came from Sir Stamford Raffles’ little-known first wife, Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt. In fact, his famous statue can be found just steps away from the Arts House.
You can sit by the counter facing the open kitchen, where you can observe Executive Chef Jonathan Koh work his culinary flair with his team; or choose a more intimate setting in the main dining area (which interestingly happened to be a courtroom during historical days.)
Chef has worked alongside many Michelin-starred chefs previously, honing his skills at 3-star Michelin Le Jardin De Sens, La Villa Augusta — a Relais Châteaux awarded establishment in Valance and Raffles Grill Singapore.
He is assisted by Maitre’d Novalan who hailed from renowned restaurants such as Raffles Grill (as Raffles Hotel’s Cellar Master) and Joel Robuchon (as Chief Sommelier), and would be able to offer excellent wine recommendations.
The 3-course Executive Set Lunch priced of $38++ is unbelievable.
Unbelievable on a few levels; that the price is of remarkable value that doesn’t break the bank, and the quality I was getting for some of the items was on par if not better than some fine dining establishments. Cross my heart.
The standout dish was the L’Oignon de Cevennes, an elegant dish of poached egg sitting on a bed of Cevennes (traditional French onion) gratin, the candied bacon supplementing a sweet-salty crispy layer that elevates the entire taste.
Beautiful like a garden, tastefully assembled.
The other entrée option was La Terrine de Foie Gras (supplement $10), somewhat playful with a rectangular-shaped buttery-delicate foie gras sandwiched in the middle of light wafers.
I was told by my dining partner that I can afford to be less uptight and casual here, then I promptly popped the whole piece using hands. The additional of burgundy-hued poached cherries complemented the foie gras like red wine to meat.
Between the La Joue de Porc ($15 supplement) – Iberian Pork Cheeks, and La Crapoudine – Spatchcock (which involves ‘butterflying’ a chicken) with Hazelnut Crunch and Spinach, we both preferred the former.
It all lies with the texture. Pork cheeks are outstandingly both lean and tender. Some meat cuts are lean yet dry, tender but fatty, while pork cheeks can be said to contain the best of both worlds.
The deliciously almost-fork-tender pork cheeks required minimal additional accompaniments, with just vegetable tartare, pickled onions and roasting jus on the side.
My dining partner despite being a regular at OCF, was still pleasantly astonished by this dish, that it was eaten clean with hardly a trace.
I do have a question on its plating though, “Why that sole piece of pork cheek at the side – accidental or incidental?”
The dessert was a Le Maïs (meaning ‘maize’) comprising of corned bread with maple syrup ice cream, with a stroke of salted caramel. Okay, decent.
And For The Surprise…
Other than regular sets, you may wish to order the ‘Carte Blanche’ (which means blank menu) Seasonal Lunch Set by Chef Jonathan Koh’s, which I would akin to an ‘omakase’ meal.
Price of a 3-course is at $58 per person, with option of 2-glass Wine Pairing at additional $18 per person.
Chef would prepare a 3-course menu based on “nature’s freshest” and inspirations for the day. This meal changes every day, which keeps regular diners still in anticipation at what there is to offer.
I had a La Boeuf – Roasted Tajima beef with char-grilled romaine lettuce and roasting jus. This dish reminded me of how Japanese chefs trained in French culinary would prepare their dishes – clean, subtle, attention is on the ingredients used.
The other was an intricate plate of 6 Textures of Tomato, with tomatoes presented in varied ways from sorbet, confit, poached, jelly, raw, fondant on a single plate.
My recommendation is to eat it part by part, to appreciate the different layers – some fresh and refreshing, some zesty, some with a sweet edge.
Set diners are available in $88++, $128++ and $198++ per person.
OCF ticks all the right boxes – quality European cuisine, menu based on seasonal produce, talented and trained local chefs, reasonable pricing, and at a location with historical significance. A beautiful experience – I hope to come back on a Friday night.
Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt OCF
1 Old Parliament Lane, #02-02 The Arts House (above Timbre) Singapore 179429
Opening Hours: 12 – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri), 6pm – 10:30pm; 6- 10:30pm (Sat)
* This entry is brought to you in partnership with OCF.