Last Updated: November 22, 2020
If there’s one restaurant that I kept returning to in the last, say five years, it has to be now-shuttered Open Door Policy, in Tiong Bahru. This article is certainly not about that, but it’s about rather newly-minted The Butcher’s Wife that has gracefully taken over ODP. As ODP was proudly a dairy- and gluten-free establishment, it’s a welcome sight to see that The Butcher’s Wife has adopted a similar slant, albeit only adhering to gluten-free protocols.
The restaurant itself is oblong and limited in dining space, but that doesn’t equate to feeling confined when dining—even in large groups. I had the honour of having my birthday there earlier this year, pre-‘Circuit Breaker’, and it made for a lovely, memorable brunch.
However, this evening, the Butcher’s Wife is all about Brazil-born, Paris-trained Head Chef Mariana Campos D’ Almeida’s flair in combining her foundation, rooted in classic French “haute cuisine” traditions, with modern-day simplicities of honest ingredients.
It’s best to throw most stereotypes of food here, as my first dish—Dadinhos de Sago (S$11) came oddly served with an eye-catching fuschia pink dipping sauce tainted with black specks. Don’t go waving for your server’s attention just yet, as this novel creation is, in fact, local red dragonfruit mixed with assorted spices such as cardamom and garam masala.
This is meant to complement a common street food snack in Brazil, deep-fried cubes of tapioca and cheese. Enjoy them warm with a few brushes of sauce, and the crumbly starter will reward you elegantly with moreish bites that are delicately lifted by the sweet tang of dragonfruit.
Come ready to get your hands slightly dirty at Butcher’s—with some hand-washing and sanitising first, of course—because you simply must cradle the Crispy Pig’s Ears (S$21) in your palm before rolling it up and consuming it whole. Once again, standard decorum of dining is thrown out the window in favour of the most convenient method, and I, for one, will not judge should I see you wolf this snack down shamelessly with both hands.
Although pig’s ears do receive notoriety for being chewy, these are marinated in soya sauce before deep-fried. It is then drizzled with red dates sauce, crowned with pickled ginger flower and plated on a raw wild pepper leaf harvested from favourite brunch haunt, Open Farm Community‘s garden.
I understand this platter is made for sharing, but if it weren’t for the sake of courtesy, I would’ve loved to have this all to myself. The acid of the pickled ginger flower worked like a punchy full-stop just as the intense savouriness of the soya-marinated pig’s ears coated my palate.
This number might seem confusing as first sight, and I don’t blame you for squinting. The Tucupi Tiradito (S$22) is anything but average, visually and taste-wise. It will make you question why no other ceviche dish ever appeased you as this does.
Once again, tapioca returns to reign the stage in this Peruvian raw fish dish. What you see as thick dry ribbons are actually large strips of cassava root, deep-fried.
I have to commend the Butcher’s use of laksa leaf oil; it made an unfamiliar dish taste both comforting and peculiar at the same time. The sourish slant of this wasn’t by any means uncomfortable and safe for even novice ceviche tasters to enjoy.
It’s quite clear by now that the food at The Butcher’s Wife is anything but plain, however, its ingredients stretch no further than plant roots and common kitchen seasoning. Take, for instance, here we have the Grilled Octopus (S$27), which isn’t insanely unique by definition, but take a closer taste and you’ll realise that here, again, tapioca decides to rear its head.
Although not taking on the responsibility of seasoning, it helps present the dish cohesively. The octopus is grilled simply and made to pair with The Butcher’s Wife homemade white kimchi, alongside manioc puree (say hello to tapioca here!). Texture is of the utmost importance here, as the octopus serves as the main vehicle of flavour. Thankfully, the gentle whipped texture of the puree marries the springiness of the octopus delightfully, and everything works in ideal harmony.
Think this Warm Chocolate Cake (S$14) is as it says? Well, you should already expect the unexpected here at The Butcher’s Wife, and this deceptively straightforward dessert withholds molten lava made using the best 72% Ecuadorian chocolate from local bean-to-bar maker, Lemuel Chocolate.
The real magic lies in the accompanying ice cream—a caramel miso ice cream—that’s made with made-from-scratch by Chef Mariana herself. The sweet-salty icy treat manages to remain impartial on the flavour spectrum, which is a feat not many dual- or triple-flavour combinations successfully pull off.
As a self-proclaimed chocoholic, this dessert receives a resounding YASSS.
As dish after dish came through the kitchen to the dining table, I was never once bored. I had to anticipate unfamiliarity but yet was always greeted with a dish that I surprisingly took to almost instantly. If you’re adventurous with your food like I am—I try to never order the same dish twice—The Butcher’s Wife will help expand your taste horizon.
Come here not knowing what you might like, but know that there won’t be a dish that’s paltry, or worse, average.
Expected Damage: S$30 – S$45 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
The Butcher's Wife
19 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650
19 Yong Siak Street, Singapore 168650