Despite reading quite a lot of horrid reviews on Oxwell’s service, I couldn’t help but try this 3 month old Oxwell & Co restaurant because the chef used to work with Gordon Ramsay! And I had one of the most mind blowing experience with Gordon Ramsay in the UK, I was willing to risk the bad service. Oxwell’s executive chef, Mark Sargeant, spent 13 years with Gordon Ramsay Holdings, including 7 years as head chef at Michelin-starred Claridge’s. Sargeant is known for his simple, honest food that is easy on the palate.
I must say, firstly, the restaurant must have taken the service feedback quite seriously; I had a pleasant experience with the staff. When I called, they were initially full but gave me the option of going slightly earlier at 630pm so they can still seat me, so long as I could return the table by 8pm. When we arrived, the service crew did seem a little disorganized in that they weren’t sure about my reservation and took a while to check, but they were warm and friendly and got us to chill out over drinks while they prepared our table on Level 2.
While waiting, I had the Badger Pear Cider ($15), which was sweet yet refreshing and not overbearingly sweet. N had the Oxhorn Lager ($12),which is an Oxwell house designed beer containing a fusion of local citrus and spices. An interesting refreshing sharp drink that managed to have a spicy aftertaste without tasting weird like most other spicy beers we have tried. Oxwell sets aside space on its rooftop to grow herbs, spices and ingredients for the drinks and kitchen. At first impressions, I like the eclectic mix of vintage, grungy and medieval decor, with house pours and gin&tonic dispensed from copper taps straight out of the tiled wall.
The second floor has a more homely, straightforward appearance than the first floor and the stairs up, which I feel represents Oxwell cuisine. It is more like an English home, where the food is served from an open kitchen, so you will get to see kitchen crew doing the plating and cleaning the plate before serving to the tables. There are very few tables, and I would say the chairs border on being uncomfortable.
We had a starter to share – Asparagus with Poached Egg and Hollandaise Sauce ($18). I was surprised at the simplicity of the taste. The asparagus was lightly salted, juicy, moist and crunchy and didn’t have the usual bitter after taste of asparagus. The poached egg was also good with the hollandaise sauce. But the two were better as 2 separate good dishes; the asparagus and egg did not serve to complement or enhance their original flavours.
The 28 Day Aged Porterhouse Steak ($140, 1kg, for two) is however, a beautiful main. The steak comes already cut in succulent chunky slices, and is truly simple tasting without any hint of sauce or seasoning, yet had a strong natural meaty juicy ‘oomph’ with every chew. We asked for the meat to be medium rare, and each slice was decked out with a rosy middle radiating outwards, graduating to a suitably dark charred crust on the outside. The beer battered onions that sat on the steak were subtly sweet, natural tasting and well fried in a very light crust that collapses softly in my mouth with every bite. I suspect they used wheat beer to achieve the subtler fried crust taste and thicker texture. Good subtle side pairing with a heavy meaty main.
We were too full for a dessert so I had to pass on the Strawberry Eton which honestly sounds like a beautiful mess, but I will definitely be back to have drinks and try the dessert! The only thing I find a tad lame is the forced link between Chinatown (Niu Ce Siu) and Oxwell; on Oxwell‘s website, it says
“the small lane behind our iconic building was once the well-worn track of many ox-carts making their daily trip to Chinatown’s only source of fresh water – Ann Siang Hill’s well. Long may the alley lead people to a wonderful source of refreshments. Bring your ox-cart and you drink for free!”
But Oxwell’s food is neither Chinese or local, and the decor has no link to ox-carts. I guess the link is that Oxwell is a watering hole for many people especially expats. The food quality, decor and drinks are thankfully good and fresh enough to justify the expensive dishes. Will be back on special occasions!
Oxwell & Co
Address: 5 Ann Siang Road, Chinatown, Singapore 069688
Operating Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 10:00 AM til late
Tel: +65 6438 3984
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