“Nostalgic British Comfort atop Ann Siang Hill”
Ann Siang Hill was once owned by a wealthy Hokkien-Chinese sawmiller, Chia Ann Siang (谢安祥; 1832–1892), who was one of the most prominent landowners of his time. Prior to the ownership of the property of his namesake, the hill ownership has changed hands between two British gentlemen.
Once a rather sedated, residential area where one can imagine conglomerates of wealthy Chinese businessmen mingling in exclusive clan-club houses – today, in the present, the scene of a bustling, popular hangout among expatriates and locals alike dominates.
Perched on the pinnacle of the hill, Oxwell & Co. represents a piece of the British comfort in a heritage shop house, among a bevy of exclusive social clubs atop the iconic Ann Siang Hill.
From April 2015, Oxwell & Co. is showing off their home-grown culinary talent, Head Chef Nic Scorpion (of The Tippling Club fame). Chef Scorpion will inject his contemporary flair into Oxwell’s signature British classics. Starting from the appetizers, small plate dishes to the main courses, patrons will experience Chef Scorpion’s mastery in preserving the culinary heritage while enveloped by the nostalgic House of Oxwell experience.
It is obligatory that Oxwell’s signature alcoholic offerings should greet your taste buds first. Upon stepping into Oxwell & Co’s front door, you will find it hard to ignore the convolution of copper piping behind the bar’s wall – the drinks from the tap off these piping, are brewed in-house. From the lighting to the heritage construction, one cannot help but to be overwhelmed with nostalgia of the colonial days.
My two favourite liquor-based drinks are the Gin & Chronic ($16), and the (deconstructed) Pina Colada ($20). The Gin is always a good drink to start the night with – it is light and the subtle nutmeg flavour keeps its fragrance very well. It is one of the drinks fashioned by the award-winning mixologist, Luke Whearty of Operation Dagger. The gin’s ingredients are proudly made from Oxwell’s secret garden on the rooftop!
The Pina Colada was a wonderful surprise of the evening. I coyly asked for the bartender to make me one – and I was thoroughly enthralled with its taste.
Discard that old image of Pina Colada with a faux mini umbrella with a heavy coconutty taste – Luke’s interpretation of this classic summertime drink will make you rethink and reprogram your taste buds. The torched coconut flavoured cream on the crown is light and yet has a pleasant waft of coconut scent; the main body of the drink carries on the theme with a rum-infused pineapple juice.
The beer lovers out there are not left out as Oxwell will pamper their fancies with the Oxhorn Lager and Wells Bombardier. The Oxhorn is a lager made with an infusion of nutmeg leaf and nutmeg, and has a light citrusy note from its calamansi and orange ingredients.
The Wells Bombardier is an extra special, premium English bitter. It carries a slightly bitter malt taste, barely sweet and pairs well with spicy food, such as curry-leaf-fried Crispy Corn.
It is almost always unavoidable for finger food to accompany the drinking. Like I have mentioned before, the Crispy Corn ($5) is such an addictive accompaniment to the beers. The batter used for this little appetiser is enhanced with the curry leaves from the rooftop garden.
Another addictive finger food from Chef Scorpion’s kitchen are the Pork Scratchings ($6). Flavoured with a mixture of peppers and chilli powder, the pork scratchings matched unbelievably well with the drinks. Trust me, you will keep reaching for this addictive, crunchy and drug-like thingamajig!
The Oyster Scampi ($10 a pair) is one of Chef Scorpion’s favourite ones. Encased in pub-styled batter, the oyster is flavourful and it is pleasantly paired with any of Oxwell’s alcoholic offerings. It never hurts to take a couple more of this pub-styled aphrodisiac on a night out!
Chef Scorpion’s new set of starters and salads are simple and light, in preparation for the heavier mains. My favourites are the Steak Tartare, Cured Ocean Trout and Packham Pear and Stilton.
The Steak Tartare ($24) is made with a good balance of meat texture and a slightly singed sourdough toast. Spread on the toast with the dollop of egg yolk provided and then the tartare. This starter is small and yet can be easily shared between 1-2 diners.
Oxwell’s salads are not to be fooled by their unassuming, simple appearances – such as the Cured Ocean Trout ($26) and Packham Pear & Stilton ($22). The Cured Ocean Trout is accompanied by gem lettuce, avocado and cucumber. Sink your teeth into the cured ocean trout and savour its deep flavour with the crisp textures of the salad.
Colston Bassett Blue cheese, endive, pickled walnut and coleslaw are the ingredients of Packham Pear & Stilton salad. The blue cheese is the centre piece – the Stilton (and Shropshire) are Colston Bassett Dairy’s award winning cheese in the recent 2014 International Cheese and 2014 World Cheese Awards. Chef Scorpion obviously has dealt the special trump card up his sleeves for this one!
Chef Scorpio has, for the mains, the traditional British classics – the Porterhouse Steak and Fish and Chips. The Cape Grim Porterhouse Steak ($140 for 2-3 to share) is a large portioned T-bone steak served with coleslaw, brussel sprouts with maple butter and chips. This should be ordered as a shared portion – the Porterhouse Steak is thick, juicy and is made medium rare. For those who prefer a slightly more cooked portion of the steak, slice the peripheral portions. Due to the thickness of the steak, the deeper parts of the steak tend to be more rare.
The British classic Fish and Chips ($26) – made with fresh seabass, chips and tartar sauce is definitely a pub favourite. The batter is made of traditional beer batter and the chips are large and oh-so-nice to bite through.
If you’re all filled up to the brim but have a compulsion for a dessert anyway, may I recommend the Chocolate Mousse Cones. They are small, almost bite-sized. And I bet that this will be a definite order for the chocolate lovers!
Oxwell and Co. presents a unique dining (and drinking) experience. This heritage building is nostalgic, filled with rather unique paintings of animals dressed up in Elizabethan attire.
The dining hall is on the second floor where you can eat comfortably in great ambiance and from above, people watch to no end. There is, in addition, a private dining room on the third floor for private events – the decor is classic British decked with leather furnishings and hunter’s mantle pieces.
The rooftop, which will soon be open for booking for small parties or events will become one of the centre piece of the House of Oxwell experience. There, you will see the garden from which the kitchen sources their herbs and also be surrounded by a panorama of the Singaporean CBD cityscape. Without realising it, you’re within one of the most iconic area of a bygone era in modern Metropolitan Singapore.
Expected damage: $50-60 per pax
Oxwell & Co., 5 Ann Siang Hill, Singapore 069688 | Tel: 6438 3984
*Be sure that you click and follow the links (highlighted) to learn more of the Ann Siang Hill history and heritage!