The Black Swan is the Lo & Behold Group’s (Loof, Tanjong Beach Club, The White Rabbit) latest offering and, in a nutshell, I’d say the restaurant and its offerings bear all the marks of the group’s signature style – classy but not stuffy, cool but not pretentious.
Having opened for just two weeks, there was already a healthy crowd when Material World popped by for a tasting last Thursday. Step into the restaurant and you feel like you’ve been transported back in time – a high ceiling, wood panelling, marble inlay and dim lighting set the mood. Make no mistake, it’s hardly a romantic place though – its prime location smack in the centre of the CBD means it draws a stressed-out office crowd all ready to unwind and toss back a few cocktails.
That doesn’t mean that the food is not worth coming here for – far from that. Some reviewers are of the opinion that the food is unadventurous, but I’ve never been against classic dishes done well. Take the Char-grilled Beef Tartare, $26; rather than being served completely raw, it’s been flash-grilled for a hint of smokey flavour, and is mixed with capers, garlic, toasted sesame seeds and more so it’s palatable even to those who shy away from raw beef.
Also from the “small plates” selection, another must-order dish is the Baked Bone Marrow with Chilli and Konbu, $18. The seasoning of chopped chillis, shallots, chives and konbu does well to cut through the greasiness of the marrow.
I’m also definitely not averse to a good burger, and The Black Swan Burger, $26, passes the test with flying colours. It might not be an exciting dish, but it’s cooked well and served with quality ingredients – what more do you really need? The patty (made up of 90% chuck and 10% fat) was juicy and oozing with beefy flavour, and it’s accompanied by butterhead lettuce, red onion rings, mature cheddar and a sunny sideup. I love that it came with streaky bacon on the side for an extra indulgent touch.
Another main worth mentioning is definitely the Stockyard Australia Ribeye Steak. $96. At 18oz, it’s just about enough for two, or perhaps one very hungry man. Ours was cooked to medium rare and what was amazing about it was how it was expertly prepared despite its mammoth size. It was evenly cooked to medium rare throughout the whole slab, which was great. Nothing annoys me more than ordering a steak medium rare, only to have it overly done close to the edges of the meat!
Though it’s tempting to fill yourself up with the mains, don’t forget to leave room for dessert. I loved the Dark Chocolate Dome, $!6. Underneath the Valrhona dark chocolate is a light vanilla creme and a hazelnut praline base. The Coconut Creme Caramel, $14, is also worth a mention – silky smooth and served with gula melaka, nicely contasting with the candied citrus and ginger.
The food might be secondary to those hankering for a drink after a stressful day at work, and the drinks menu is also impressive. There is a selection of cocktails concocted by its Beverage Manager Kamil Foltan, who has honed his craft in various bars and cocktail lounges in Europe. Despite my reservations about the potential tainting of a perfectly good single malt, I had the Golden Parachute, $19, a 15-year-old single malt whisky stirred with vanilla bean, maple syrup and enlivened with mandarin zest, and was surprised at how well the sweet flavour of maple syrup lent itself to the single malt. For my second drink, I had a gin ‘n tonic, but this wasn’t just any old gin. I opted for something I never tried before, Brooklyn Gin and was amazed at its smoothness, complexity of flavours and detectable citrus notes. The Black Swan also offers a wonderful selection of whiskys for single-malt lovers. These include the Yamazaki 1998/2012 Single Cask, Glenddronach 1972/2012 Single Oloroso Cask, and Laphroaig 1990 21 Years.
If you work in the area (or even if you don’t), The Black Swan is definitely worth a visit for its inspired cocktails, hearty dishes and old-world ambience. Fancy a late-night bite after a night at the club? You’ll be glad to know that The Black Swan is open for supper till 1am on weekdays and 2am on weekends.
The Black Swan is at 19 Cecil Street. SMS 8181 3305 for reservations.
Material World was invited for a tasting at The Black Swan. All opinions are the author’s own.
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