From its sensory cocktail menu to its global recipes, dining at Tippling Club is an unique experience…and they definitely aren't afraid to try new things
The tiny country of Singapore has always been open to outside influences and its location makes it an exotic trading center, and home to many different people. After achieving independence, Singapore transformed itself into a rich and modern nation with startling success, and today its port is the busiest in the world.
This country is a true cultural mix, and is always open to new ideas and concepts. I imagine that it would be a great place to be a chef, as all the different influences would provide an unlimited supply of inspiration. Sure enough, several of the world’s top restaurants can be found there, and some are trying out innovative new things.
One of these is Tippling Club which was recently named Asia’s 27th best restaurant (up from 31st in 2016), and the continent’s 12th best bar. These awards hint, not just at its quality, but at its interesting and unique approach. Here, the cocktails are as important as the food, and the drinks menu is unlike any you will have experienced before.
Our experience at Tippling Club started by ordering a cocktail...pretty standard. However, Instead of a normal cocktail menu, we were brought a selection of small slices of paper, each infused with a scent that is meant to provoke memories. There are twelve in total and they included drink names like ‘forest’, ‘rain’, and ‘campfire’. It is called the sensorium menu, and underpinning it is the powerful link between smell, memory, and taste.
A scent can transport you back to places and events which you had completely forgotten about, and this was the inspiration behind the concept. The tastes you experience are heavily influenced by smell meaning that when you choose a scent you enjoy, you can be pretty sure that you will like the taste of the cocktail that goes with it. In order to create this concept, Tippling Club teamed up with International Flavors and Fragrances – a multinational company which specializes in creating innovative sensory experiences. Some may find the whole thing a little gimmicky, however there is no denying that when the cocktails arrive, they are uniformly delicious and excellent.
We had come for lunch, and there was certainly a lively atmosphere. It was an obvious trendy place to be and there was a mixture of businessmen, couples, and groups of friends chatting all around us. The design was very cool, with interesting light fixtures, furniture, and art pieces all around. We sat at the bar which was right in front of the kitchen, so that we got to watch the chefs as they worked.
Watching the team move around was like watching a well choreographed recital, everyone was moving quickly, efficiently and doing several things at once. Someone was grilling meat, another was creating artful splashes of sauce on the plates, another was adding garnishes, while the head chef oversaw the whole thing. This was well organized chaos at its best and it was fascinating to watch!
As we were right in front of him, the chef – Ryan Clift - introduced himself to us. Like the city itself (and his restaurant’s concept), he was suitably international; having been born in the UK and lived in Australia as well as Singapore. He was remarkably calm considering how many people were eating at the restaurant, and the busy life he leads… you can tell he trusts his team. He has worked with several well-known chefs, owns several restaurants, and has three farms! He opened Tippling Club ten years ago, and his star has been rising in the world of fine dining ever since.
We asked one of the other chefs what the inspiration behind the food was and he simply told us, our food is inspired by travel and what can be sourced locally. In fact most of the greens and veggies being served are most likely from Ryan's farm, (he operates 3 so why not!). It’s the idea of shopping local, sourcing the best ingredients possible and using the experience that only comes from true creative travelers, that make dining at Tippling Club a remarkable experience.
Our meal was a range of six courses with plenty of of surprises throughout. We started with a selection of snacks, bites like tom yum espuma (served with kaffir lime to create a deliciously spicy dish) instantly bringing us back to Thailand, prawn crackers with ebi sakura, tomato gazpacho and my favorite, smoked and charred peppers. Then to cleanse our palette we were served what looked like a lava lamp, only it was delicious balls of olive oil swirling around basil juice. The next hour in a half was a choreographed sequence of exotic dishes being served all with more intrigue and technique than the last. The chef was taking us on a journey all around the world.
We feasted on dishes like foie gras with white peaches and spiced gaufrette was, served raw , a very difficult thing to do as it must be served within 48 hours. We moved on to wild turbot served with faux squid risotto, lobster, turnips and watercress emulsion. And to finish everything off, we had at least 4 little dessert courses, with subtle nods to drugs...think little tablets with smiley faces that disintegrate on your tongue, and taste sweet! We were definitely eating a creative mix of Chefs ideas.
If you like new ideas and innovative cooking then Tippling Club will be right up your alley. It was an interesting experience that played with our senses and made us chuckle. Ryan Clift is a chef worth following, and we are looking forward to seeing what he comes up with next.
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