Venue By Sebastian: Restaurant Ember’s Comeback With Contemporary European-Asian Tapas At Downtown Gallery

Helmed by the former chef-owner of the now-defunct Restaurant Ember, the 80-seat Venue by Sebastian restaurant at Downtown Gallery is the translation of Chef Sebastian’s ideas and inspirations.

Compared to the ambience at Restaurant Ember, Venue gives off a total opposite vibe with its brightly lit interiors and its minimalist design.

Venue by Sebastian serves modern European-Asian communal dishes that are similar to tapas, and its extensive menu features seven dish categories that include ‘Toast’, ‘Fritti & Greens’, ‘Pasta’, ‘Raw, Cured & Smoked’, ‘Pan, Coal & Roast’, ‘Sides’ and ‘Sweets’.

Starting off with ‘Toast’, we tried Seasonal Mushrooms, truffle oil ($8) that had a hint of garlic flavour and it was a harmonious blend when the fragrant truffled mushroom bits were paired with the crusty charred toast.

The cold Foie Gras mousse ($12) was smooth and slightly salty, but this “meat butter” worked quite well with bland toasts. If you enjoy the gamey taste of pâté, you will love this liver butter.

The uniquely shaped Chilled Romanesco, almonds, lemon vinaigrette, shaved Parmigiano ($13) was an Insta-worthy dish that had a Mediterranean touch to it, thanks to the acidity from the lemon vinaigrette.

Texture and taste wise, it was similar to a broccoli but slightly more delicate and nuttier.

While it looked and tasted similar to potato soup, the Jerusalem artichoke soup, crispy duck ($8) had a subtle sweetness and the crispy duck flakes managed to uplift the flavour of the comforting soup.

For those who enjoy Japanese Agedashi Tofu, you will enjoy the Home made tofu, Foie gras-mirin sauce, iced lettuce ($14). Instead of plain tofu, silky egg tofu was used in this elevated version and it was paired with a robust umami sauce.

I also find that the frosty ice lettuce did not combine with the flavours, but this citrusy plant was quite refreshing on its own.

Sashimi lovers will enjoy the Japanese-inspired dish of Raw Hokkaido scallop, mesclun, daikon-yuzu vinaigrette ($17), finished with zesty shallots and toasted sesame to enthral your senses.

Roasted and poached Foie gras ($24) was unlike pan seared foie gras because the texture was less bouncy (in a good way). Paired with mirin and shiitake mushrooms, the dish has both briny and earthy flavours.

Hand-cut pasta, duck ragout, Parmigiano reggiano ($21) was al dente and the duck ragout reminded me of beef Bolognaise. Although I wished it has a more distinctive flavour, it was a pretty decent pasta dish overall.

My personal favourite would be the Cold pasta, konbu, truffle oil ($23), unpretentious looking yet packed with explosive flavours. Sprinkled with chives, this angel hair pasta dish was simply divine.

Moving on to ‘Pan, Coal & Roast‘, the well-marbled pinkish Iberico pork jowl, gremolata, lemon ($18) had a mild herbal taste to it and the lemon rind added a pleasant tincture of bitterness to diversify the flavours of this dish.

Since the pork jowl tasted slightly gamey, I was glad that the various spices managed to neutralise the taste.

Chilean sea bass, mushroom-bacon ragout, truffle yuzu butter sauce ($36) was a decadent dish that works for those who enjoy heavier flavours.

The Chilean sea bass (or Patagonian toothfish) had a silky and oily flesh that is similar to a cod, and I liken the taste of truffle yuzu butter sauce to an Atas Hollandaise sauce. The combination of these resulted in a well-balanced dish that’s perfect for sharing as it’s too overwhelming for one person.

Infused with vanilla beans, cinnamon and clove, the Spiced panna cotta, blood orange sorbet ($12) felt a lot like a Christmas dessert due to its spiced aroma.

Balanced with the acidity from the berries and blood orange sorbet, this creamy dessert was surprisingly not too jelak.

This pancake-looking Pear tart, crumble, Bailey’s ice cream ($14) was very buttery and flaky, however, the taste of Bailey’s Irish Cream wasn’t too prominent in the home-made ice cream.

Overall, I was incredibly impressed with the extensive selections and the communal dining concept, which makes it a lot easier to try more things with your friends.

Expected Damage: $30 $45 per pax

Venue By Sebastian: Downtown Gallery, #01-02, 6A Shenton Way, 068815 | Opening Hours: (Mon – Sat) 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6.30 – 9.30pm, (Closed on Sundays) | Tel: 6904 9688 | Facebook