Seated at the bar that looks into the open-concept kitchen of Sorrel, we cannot help but notice the fresh faces working behind the counter. “They’re really young,” a friend remarked. The oldest culinary team member of Loh Lik Peng’s latest offering is 28 years old, mere fry in a sea of veterans.
Tentacle of confit octopusm, pagoda cauliflower and algae sago
But the youthfulness of Sorrel’s kitchen is its most powerful weapon. The food mirrors the team’s age, featuring experimental combinations such as algae powder and sago. Does it always work? No. But when it does, it is phenomenal. We were bowled over by the dish of hand-dived scallops and pan-seared foie gras crusted with salted almonds. While something sweet and jammy would be an obvious sauce to go with the proteins, executive chef Johnston Teo’s decision to adopt a savoury, buttery carrot emulsion was certainly inspired.
The restaurant’s décor is modest to the point of plain, reminiscent of the minimalism in Restaurant Ember, a sister establishment under the Unlisted Collection umbrella. And Sorrel’s concept of pushing out fine-dining plates in a bistro-style restaurant is not new; in fact, the term ‘bistronomy’ (an amalgamation of bistro and gastronomy) was coined over 20 years ago. But who is going to say ‘no’ to good, affordable food?
A la carte options are absent from Sorrel’s menu. Instead, there are three-, five- and seven-course meal options ($45, $88 and $108 respectively), with complimentary amuse bouches and palette cleansers.
Amuse bouche of Granny Smith apple espuma with a lime and apple soda
Dessert of seasonal fruit and multiple textures of milk
Pre-dessert of bergamot sorbet, buttermilk snow and coriander flowers
Desserts were impressive too. The pre-dessert of bergamot sorbet with buttermilk snow and coriander flowers set us up for a complex sweet finish but it was the parsnip and white chocolate ice cream that really did it for us, especially when it came with a devilishly thick black olive caramel.
Akin to discovering the light at the end of the tunnel, our eyes found themselves drawn to the kitchen upon entering Sorrel. The restaurant’s mood lighting sets the focus on the kitchen and rightly so. Sorrel intends to impress diners with its young talents working the stoves, which they easily did.
21 Boon Tat Street, tel. 6221 1911
This article was first published in the print issue of August Man, March 2015. UPDATE: Chef Johnston Teo has since left Sorrel. Executive chef Alex Phan is currently heading the restaurant’s kitchen.