Irish food is traditionally simple, rich in fat, protein and lots of potatoes, featuring some stunning seafood, such as oysters and salmon, predominately enjoyed in uncomplicated preparations. It’s therefore not entirely straightforward to connect Irish cuisine with fine dining. This dichotomous association is exactly why CURE, an Irish-Asian fine dining concept in Singapore, attracted my curiosity in the first place.
The restaurant, located in Keong Saik Road, is designed according to the concept of “Bistronomy”, a compromise between relaxed bistro environment and high-end gastronomy ambiance. The modern, polished interiors are conceived by architecture firm Weijenberg (also behind the design of André Chiang’s Raw in Taipei) who kept the shop house’s original details and accentuated its Chinese heritage through wall paintings and a beautiful installation of green-hued wooden drawers.
At CURE, Chef-owner Andrew Walsh mission is to redefine Irish cuisine in a refined and elevated way. Using distinct Asian influences, he creates a breezy tasting menu experience which effortlessly showcases haute-cuisine techniques and a variety of fine seasonal ingredients at the intersection of Ireland and Asia. The result is a truly unique experience that feels natural and authentic in its own special way.
All tasting menus at CURE start with Chef Andrew’s complimentary Snacks, a selection of delectable bites that help ease minds and stomachs into the momentous meal.
Among those, the Jammie Liver Dodgers are a real treat, with their buttery, crumbly parmesan sable cookies and a balanced contrast of mildly bitter chicken liver parfait and acidic raspberry jam. Seriously, I’d buy these jammies by the pound.
The homemade crusty-on-the-outside and pillowy-on-the-inside sourdough bread is highly addictive and it’s a struggle to not over-indulge at the beginning of the meal. It’s accompanied with a bacon and onion butter spread.
Snacking time finishes with a fun three-layered wooden box, nestling a trio of Irish Salmon Sashimi, Tuna Tartare and Smoked Eel Cigar.
Among my favorite courses, the White Asparagus with burrata ice-cream and caviar is hands down the most memorable dish. The play on opposing textures, temperatures and flavors gives into a comforting impression that lingers on the palate and satisfies the soul. The caviar is not a licentious addition to justify the menu’s price tag (which I’ve experienced at several fine dining restaurants) – it actually serves to complete the dish, adding that much-needed umami that balances the flavors.
Another stunning dish is the Squid, Chef Andrew’s interpretation of laksa noodles. The squid is cut in long strings and cooked sous-vide until all the chewy fibers break down, becoming a soft and protein-rich substitute for noodles. The traditional liquid coconut soup is traded for a frothy foam, which quickly disappears in the mouth leaving all the rich shrimpy taste of laksa.
Through his work, Chef-owner Andrew brings forward a sustainability agenda, taking action against food waste. This mission is best represented in his “zero waste” Pigeon, served generously as a trinity of different preparations which exploits all edible parts of this noble bird.
The breast, traditionally considered the only worthy part of the pigeon, is served with charred radicchio and topped with a nicely acidic cherry reduction.
The thigh is smartly prepared as an elevated fried katafi drumstick. It can be dipped in the bûlée pigeon liver custard, which works a bit like a mayonnaise but tastes infinitely better.
Heading towards the end of the meal, the Chocolate and Cheesecake desserts were introduced by the most delicious pre-dessert, a yoghurt sorbet layered with shiso syrup, which delivered a truly worthy and surprising combination of flavors.
Among the petit fours, the Guinness ice-cream sandwich is like crack (not that I actually know what crack tastes like, but you get the point – it’s highly addictive!). I wish I could end every meal of my life with that little bite of bliss.
Both the wine and tea pairings are incredibly thoughtful and well crafted. I loved the non-traditional labels of wine, including the very special Kotogi Averoff Inima dry white varietal wine from Metsovo, Greece and the yummy Grof Defendfeld Aszu 3 Puttonyos, a sweet dessert white wine from Tokaj-Hegyalja, Hungary.
The teas are mindfully and creatively brewed using an array of different techniques and ingredients, resulting in a complex program that is worth exploring even for wine drinkers.
Overall, from the restaurant environment with its hot and messy open kitchen and bare wooden tables, to the simple presentation of the dishes and genuinely delicious taste of the food, I believe the success of Chef Andrew’s fine dining concept lays in its apparent effortlessness. As Leonardo Da Vinci once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication”.
The Chef’s Menu changes seasonally according to the best available produce and its currently priced at S$160++ (plus an additional S$130 for the optional wine pairing). Three and five courses menus are also available.
Address: 21 Keong Saik Rd., Singapore 089128 Reservations at http://cho.pe/dineatcuresingaporesg
Also, awesome bonus during my visit:
I was so stoked to meet Ana Roš of Hiša Franko at CURE!