“Super Secret Alley Find”
Hidden in a snug corner of rowdy Desker Road, resides one pretty chill bistro bar called Bellwethers. The inspiration was for a creative, relaxed, rustic local bar smack in the middle of a red light district ala Amsterdam. The owners have been partying a lot no doubt.
Being a long time friend and fanboy of Chef Warren, I was obliged to check out his new food haunt, which is afore mentioned place.
By the way, Bellwethers means the leader of a herd of sheep, or the leaderSHEEP. HUR HUR.
Before Chef Warren started to revamp the bar menu, Bellwethers served crappy ready made fries, ready made potato wedges, ready made CP chicken wings and the ready made list goes on. You get the idea. Basically the bar food needed minimal effort other than stuffing it in the oven, as it was all prepared at the factory in Tuas. It’s not hard to figure out why no one buys it.
Well, since chef bestowed his magic fingers to this very hidden spot, things have changed drastically. This is a feature based on the 2 media tastings I organized, dining with some of Singapore’s most renown food bloggers. This group of Singapore bloggers included Philip (keropokman), Alvin (alvinology), Melissa (melicacy), Darren (darrensim), Bryan (thesmartlocal), Daphne (mitsueki), Alexis (alexischeong) and Jayne from my favourite food app Burpple– almost like an all-star team! Who would reject free delicious food right. Hell, I’d do a Russian pole dance for free good steak. This review is the combined experience of what we ate that 2 nights.
The dinner cuisine style is more Spanish influenced, including bar tapas and designed to be shared in a communal plate like European ‘zhi char’.
First we had the signature ‘Alley Breeze’ cocktail, which personally I felt like I was slurping a cucumber smoothie. Alcohol was non-distinct (although you’re not supposed to taste strong alcohol in good cocktails, but you must be able to taste and tell that there IS some), and too much REAL cucumber blended in which gave a lot of fibre for my bowels. Calamansi sour taste also lacking. Not a fan of protein deficient abominations like cucumbers, so that didn’t sit well with me. I’m anal about my cocktails. However, Bellwethers is also known for speciality craft New Zealand beers like Mac’s Great White, a really nice white beer that’s only $10 a pint during happy hour. The Speight’s ale is also easy to drink.
These are the appetizers we sampled to start off the night. From top left clockwise: Catch of the day- Manilla Clams baked in white wine ($12), Chicken Strips with spicy tomato dip ($9), Iberian pork collar salad ($13), Pan Fried Prawn and Eggs ($10).
The clams and chicken strips were pretty standard fare. Special highlight on the prawn and eggs though, where the modus operandi is to mix up the runny yolk of the fried egg with the succulent prawn and eat it together with the crispy small slice of bread, a combination of juicy, crisp and runny flavours.. Being a meatatarian, I would say the Pork salad was also good in terms of salad and pork texture when combined, but can be improved with a whole lot more Iberian pork and no salad. Personal preference. One of the main courses below will fulfil this wet dream.
One of the pains of eating with food bloggers during tasting is the photo taking period before each dish. Everyone whips out their DSLR or mobile phones to take food shots at different angles, distance, lighting and setting. It’s quite an interesting sight to behold. Sometimes the food gets cold also, but that’s the sacrifice we make to bring you awesome food photography.
First course was Mediterranean style baked seabass ($32) which serves 2. The sea bass was so fresh, I asked if Chef was rearing fish in his spare time behind the kitchen. They buy their fish from the wet market daily instead. No ‘fishy, oceanic’ taste and cooked with mildly spicy white wine olive oil emulsion, topped with roasted garlic parsley oil. Very delicious fish, but small portion.
Grilled herb infused chicken ($30). This is a huge portion for 3 and very worth the money. Chicken was brine marinated and grilled which came out really tender. Comes with chicken port sauce and romesco (almond nuts mix) sauce for a multi-dimensional taste. Only gripe was that we didn’t taste much herb flavour, since it was herb-infused chicken. Strengthen the herbs and this would be a perfect dish.
3rd course was a Whole Lamb Rack ($60) dressed with raspberry mint sauce which serves 2-3 pax. Comes with grilled seasonal vegetables, which I’m too lazy to describe because I’m not excited by vegetables. The lamb was really juicy and tender, being cooked with a layer of fat and let rest to preserve it’s moistness and flavours.
The Iberian Presa ($70) shown here, was undoubtedly the taste winner of the night. Feeds about 3-4 people. This is THE dish to order when you come to Bellwethers.
Almost.all.of.us.thought.it.tasted.like.beef. But is actually acorn fed Iberian Pork collar.
Someone even commented it tasted better than the Wagyu they had last night. This was how amazing the Iberian pork was, being a top Spanish domestic pig breed. If you appreciate fine foods, you will understand just how value for money this dish is here, compared to other fine dining restaurants. Pork was dipped in a quick marinate of soy sauce, thyme, garlic, balsamic and hot oil emulsion, which flavours the pork quickly without having to marinate it too long. It’s also paired with a pork sauce dip which is made from roasted pork bones and chicken boiled with mirepoix (chopped celery, onions, carrots) and red wine vinegar for light acidity.
Side mention to the roasted pineapple, which was poached in a mixture of sugar syrup, rosemary, Szechuan peppercorn, star anise and cinnamon then grilled. Eat the pineapple and the pork together for a sweet, citric and fatty combination.
MORE MEAT. This is why I love Warren’s food.
Dry aged, 300 day grain-fed Rangers Valley Wagyu Beef Prime Ribs ($130/kg), served with chunky mash potato. Chef even dry aged the beef more days to enhance the flavour. Grain fed beef tends to be more fatty, just the way I like my beef. Simple salt seasoning, grilled in the outdoor BBQ grill. Charred ‘burnt ends’ of the beef ribs from the BBQ grill had a more smoky taste which some bloggers liked, but not my cup of steak. Nonetheless, still a beautiful piece of meat and I enjoyed every non-charred bite.
Potato was hand mashed with a goddamn fork with roasted garlic butter, then served for a true rustic experience. That’s why it’s chunky, and not like the potato purees a lot of people make with a blender.
As always, Chef Warren’s food has impressed me from Shoebox Canteen to Catalunya to wherever he sets foot in. Food price might seem a little on the high side (it’s meant for 2-3 pax per dish also), but if you know your ingredients and have actually tasted the food, you will realize it’s worth every dollar.
Bellwethers also has a fun quiz night every first weds of the month for you to win a bottle of blended whiskey, as well as live band performance every Saturday night 10pm onwards.
Damage: $50-$60/pax normally. But if you get everything we had this night, prepare to shell out about $100+/pax
Bellwethers Bistro Bar: 120 Desker Rd, Singapore 209639 | Facebook