Friends have asked me about “this romantic restaurant near the Singapore River” that I have talked about, which is OCF, short for Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt.
Interesting to note, that is also the name of Sir Stamford Raffles’ first wife.
It has almost quite the complete package for that romantic meal – Michelin-worthy French cuisine, knowledgeable Sommelier, set in a colonial building, jazz performances during certain evenings, all at affordable prices for its quality.
Service was also down-to-earth friendly, without that uptight vibes some higher end restaurants may give.
OCF is found in the Arts House, near the Victoria Concert Hall and National Gallery, and thus the location makes it suitable for after-meals extended walks for dates. (Hint for the birthday or anniversary dinner you are planning?)
Though I am usually there for Business Lunches, and not that romantic date (Oh well…)
I was previously impressed by its Executive Set Lunches (value-for money at $38++ in a quiet environment) and returned for Set Dinners ($88++ or $128++) featuring some of OCF signatures.
Here are what you can expect:
Pour Votre Palais
This means “for your palate”, served once guests are seated so we would have something to munch on while making our orders. Very thoughtful.
What I had was a trio of Onion Chausson Hand-Made Pastry Puff filled with confit of Cévennes onions (good stuff, fluffy crust and moist fillings – MUST savour while warm), burrata cheese, and grilled veal tongue. Great start to the meal.
Le Céleri Boule
The dishes featured are influenced by Chef Jonathan Koh’s culinary experience, expertise and exposure. This is one of his 3 signature dishes, and I was most intrigued by the different layering.
At the bottom was Salted Baked Celeriac (not commonly used in Singapore, I reckon) which had a turnip mixed celery-like flavour, refreshing slight sweetness.
On top of the celeriac was creamy Foie Gras and smokey Kaviari Eel. Paris-based Kaviari is one of the most renowned specialists of finely selected caviar, known to be the supplier for many Michelin starred chefs.
The net-like ‘covering’ at the top was Buckwheat Cracker which gave a paper-thin crisp.
Overall, I would recommend eating the components as a whole, so that you could appreciate the play of layers from the buttery foie gras, crunchy celeriac interposed with the crumbly cracker.
Chef shared later that he was inspired combines inspirations of earth and sea in this dish, using celeriac and foie gras for the earth element, and Kaviari eel for the sea element.
Presentation-wise, it somehow reminded me of the universe. But I figured why the colours were purposely ‘so earthy’.
Gillardeau Oysters are sometimes known as “the Rolls-Royce of Oysters”, supposedly plump, soft, juicy, of exceptional quality.
These oysters are lightly steamed at very low temperatures of about 67 degrees, so as to retain their flavours.
While the dish leaned to the saltier side due to the Poultry Jus, the oysters were indeed fatter than usual, without that usual ‘seafood-y’ fishy taste.
The burnt leeks were a suitable counterpart, giving the dish some crunch. Potatoes used are Agria types, which has less starch so it doesn’t caramelise easily. So compared to most potatoes, these are lighter tasting.
Le Pigeonneau d’Origine Française
This roasted pigeon was first presented on the table in a glorious golden brown on a wooden board, resting next to a light beige parsley root.
This pigeon is from Brittany (more tender and fleshy), pan-seared, then slowly-roasted by drizzling oil all over in the pot.
Then, the bird entered the kitchen, and came out in a plate reposing on its own roasting jus, accompanied with beets and hazelnut crumble.
I need to say that I won’t immediately order a pigeon if I see it on the menu. My apprehension with eating pigeons is usually due to the gamey taste (if not prepared properly), but these pieces had a lot less of that than the typical, with a suitable succulence.
Desserts are always something to look forward to.
The La Poire is a straight-forward, no-fuss dish of conference pears poached in honey and star anise, Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream and salted caramel.
The combination is refreshing, like what the constituents suggest.
Le Café et Cacao
You may want to get your cameras ready for this.
A sphere moulded by hand-whipped ganache made of single-vintage dark chocolate, drizzled with some hot chocolate over.
As to what treasure lies inside, I shall leave the suspense and imagination till you order it.
Introducing the Chefs behind the food…
Executive Chef OCF, Chef Jonathan Koh
Chef Jonathan’s earliest experience in the F&B scene began when he was a young boy, having helped his grandmother out at her hawker stall as a little kitchen assistant – peeling vegetables, preparing condiments, serving customer.
He has worked alongside Michelin-starred chefs in France at restaurants such as Le Jardin des Sens and La Villa Augusta. After his stint in France, he returned to Singapore and became Executive Chef at Waterboat House.
After a quick chat with Chef Jonathan, he gave me the impression of being persistent, resolute.
This could come from his training in France. His cuisine did strike give me an impression of ‘back to the basics’ without doing fanciful stuff for the sake of doing.
He confirmed it by stressing the importance of usage of ingredients in his dishes, and strictly adhering to the seasons.
Therefore, all key ingredients in OCF are sourced from some of the best suppliers around the world, from Brittany pigeons to Gillardeau Oysters. “These are products I really like to use in my cuisine.”
Sous Chef OCF, Chef Liinson Heng
The boyish-looking and shy Chef Liinson developed his love for culinary since he was a child, mesmerized by his parents’ cooking and his ‘stint’ as a family kitchen helper.
During his younger days, he joined Swiss Butchery as a full-time butcher producing all kinds of cured meats and sausages, picking up more specialist knowledge of meats.
He then decided to step into fine-dining and has worked in Boathouse, Joel Robuchon Restaurant, The Crostini Bar and then OCF, where he was sent to France to learn pastry with Chef Jean Michel Perruchon.
OCF Set Lunches
3-course Executive Set Lunch – $38++
Seasonal Lunch Set by Chef Jonathan Koh – $58++ per person, with option of 2-glass Wine Pairing at additional $22++ per person.
OCF Set Dinners
Set diners are available in $88++ and $128++ per person.
Ladies’ Night every Wednesday 6-9pm
Free-flow Château Bel Air Blanc 2014 & Chateâu Bel Air Rouge 2012 – $98++
Free-flow Champagne Devaux Cuvée D NV – $138++
Additional note: There are live jazz performances by various home-grown jazz artistes, with resident musician being Michaela Therese every Friday and Saturday evenings.
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.