What mama doesn’t love a good set lunch? With a gorgeous setting, exquisite French cuisine, and tremendous value, OCF Singapore at the Arts House really delivers
As mama to a highly energetic crawler, I do need the occasional quiet time. Usually, I find myself escaping to calmer environs—a yoga studio, the library, and recently I escaped for lunch at the quietly elegant Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt (OCF), at the historic Arts House on Old Parliament Lane.
Take a fellow frazzled mama and treat yourselves to their good value Seasonal Set Lunch ($38++). You wouldn’t know there was a restaurant there if we didn’t tell you; why not use the excuse to look for it to walk around the 200-year old building that was Singapore’s first Parliament House? Today it’s a beautiful arts venue, that hosts multi-disciplinary exhibits and workshops.
OCF’S main dining area used to serve as a courtroom where trials took place. When you are there, peek into the private room that used to be the judge’s chamber. Done up in tones of slate, grey and black OCF’s decor is chic, stylish and modern; a contrast to its old world confines.
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The set lunch allowed us three-courses and an amouse-bouche. The menu is fine French fare, with seasonally available ingredients. We sampled the summer menu, designed by Chef Jonathon Koh, in which he uses produce from Europe’s finest farms that are at their seasonal best. With the off-menu palate teaser of poached egg and spanner crabmeat tartare, flavoured with chives and mild Basque chilli, served within an eggshell—things were off to a good start.
I was tempted to opt for the foie gras (who isn’t?). Chef Koh serves his as a slice of opera cake where the paté is inter-layered with buckwheat jaconde and citrus jelly acts as the icing on top. This is rich and sinful (I snuck a bite from my dining companion) to say the least, so the Hokkaido scallops was what I went for. In this dish, the barely cooked scallops were flavoured with lardo (cured pork fatback), summer vegetables and chicken jus, resulting in a deeply savoury and satisfyingly umami dish.
My main of salmon was also very nicely done. Scottish Salmon poached in flavoured olive oil results in fish so tender and flaky, yet as rich as you would expect of a confit. This was served with summer radishes that had unfortunately been overly seasoned. Thankfully the buttermilk emulsion helped in cutting a bit of the saltiness.
It was only proper to order OCF’s version of the black forest cake for dessert. Their rendition of this traditional dessert is dark chocolate mousse on sponge, plus cherries poached in kirsch liqueur, served with vanilla ice-cream. The flavours are all familiar, but their version is clearly quite posh. Note the fleck of gold leaf on top, too!
If lunch alone isn’t enough to settle your mama nerves, ask Sommelier and General Manager Novalan Dorasamy (who was Cellar Master of Raffles Hotel Singapore and Head Sommelier of Joel Robuchon for its pre-opening set-up) for recommendations on wine to pair with your meal.
Rarely do “French fine dining” and “bargain” go in the same sentence (let alone the same postal code); set lunch at OCF is truly a treat for all five senses, and your wallet as well!