(Click here for JIND’s second visit to Artichoke on 9 April 2011)
Set within the gorgeous courtyard of Sculpture Square, Artichoke now occupies the F&B space which once housed My Secret Garden. Chef and owner Bjorn Shen has done a terrific job with the interior design, seamlessly amalgamating country chic with bold colours and blackboards to create a charming and laid-back dining experience. Communal dining is very much encouraged here – the menu comprises a hearty selection of small and large plates (small plates start from $11 and large from $25) and everything on the menu sounds delish. The repertoire of modern Moorish cuisine offered is honest and approachable – what you see on the menu is what you get, no fancy names needed here.
For starters, we had Moorish Dips with Toasted Bread (Avocado & Hummus, Yoghurt & Feta, Roasted Carrot & Rosemary), all of which were very tasty and mopped up effortlessly with our cripsy Turkish bread. The Avocado and Hummus dip was superb; it had a lovely velvety texture and the freshness of the produce was evident in this dish. The Yoghurt & Feta dip was also a hit, refreshingly tart, to put it plainly.
Our second dish was the Lebanese Beetroot Salad (Roasted and Pickled Red Beets, Homemade Labneh, Garlic Breadcumbs and Pistachio Dukkah). The baby beets were adorable and presented in a row lightly dressed with Lebanese yoghurt cheese. Although they were a tad under-roasted and slightly too crunchy on the bite, we enjoyed this dish nonetheless and loved how the earthiness of beetroot was superbly balanced with the yoghurt, garlic breadcrumbs and chopped pistachio to give this dish depth in both flavours and texture.
The Signature Lamb Ribs was well received by meat lovers at the table. The ribs were heavily perfumed with a medley of Moroccan spices and its meat so tender it fell off the bone with no effort at all. Lamb being lamb, the cuts were quite fatty (making it all the more tasty), but certainly not for the health nuts.
Imam Bayildi (“The Holy Man Fainted”): Turkish stuffed eggplant with onions, tomatoes and walnuts. Our last dish was Imam Bayildi which was fun just to say it out loud as we were ordering. If you were a fan of eggplant, this is your dish, there is plenty of it, all wrapped up in a little parcel and served on a bed of wild rocket and cherry tomatoes.
The Caramel Sea Salt Sticky Date Pudding sounded like a fabulous way to round up our meal. While it was very good on its own, it didn’t pair very well with the rest of the meal and as it was a tad too rich (and sweet) and left us longing for a hot lemon tea to cleanse our palates and slice through the lipids.
Overall, we enjoyed our dinner at Artichoke. Everything about the experience was warm, authentic and comforting. The manager, Ronny, kept service personable and made us feel right at home. We also liked that only the freshest produce and ingredients are used and that the menu evolves constantly to meet this demand. The menu is also well priced and affordable (dinner for 3 persons, including 2 glasses of house red cost slight under $100), making repeat visits very attractive on the pockets.
Artichoke should rank high on your list for your next lunch, brunch or night out into town with your gal pals, loved ones or family – or if you simply need an urban retreat to relax and unwind in the lush surroundings of Sculpture Square.Artichoke 161 Middle Road | +65 6336 6949 Closed Mondays; Sunday Brunch from 11am-4pm
Photos courtesy of Mint H