If you’re familiar with Tim Ross-Watson, the first thing you’d notice about his newly-opened bar restaurant PYXIEMOSS at North Canal Road is how it closely reflects its chef-owner. From the terrapin terrarium that lines part of the bar to the token bad boy motorcycle helmet proudly displayed on a wall, these are clear signs that Ross-Watson is finally doing what Ross-Watson is allowed to do – which is to be himself. Again.
After he shuttered his previous restaurant Garden of Eden in 2012, Ross-Watson spent his time doing guest shifts in various bars and restaurants around town. But being temporary part of someone else’s baby isn’t quite the same thing as running your own gig, and the new PYXIEMOSS allows Ross-Watson to go batshit-crazy with food ideas he has been toying around in those interim years.
You can find much of that new-found creative freedom sneaking into the offerings at PYXIEMOSS – many items on both the food and cocktail menus are experimental, quirky and fun to eat. His modern European takes inspiration of much of his own British childhood, but also infuses it with Asian influences in the many years he’s spent in Singapore. Ross-Watson loves employing gastronomy science to morph ingredients into different edible forms; he’s also a devotee in maximising the use of ingredients in the preparation of his food, and often uses an entire plant or vegetable from root up.
Obviously that philosophy gets into his bar programme, with its “chef-driven” cocktails, as well. For example, PYXIEMOSS’s In The Mead Thyme ($16++, above) puts together various ingredients such as Bulleit Bourbon, Lillet Blanc, Tio Pepe sherry and a malt soda solution concocted entirely in-house using koji (an inoculated rice most commonly used in sake brewing) and crystal malt (used mainly for brewing beer). The entire cocktail tastes like mead, with hints of herbal notes.
Similarly of a scientific vein is the Poto ($16++), which sees a Japanese wine fortified in-house – and combined with Amaro and Cynar for a spirit-forward tipple. If you like your drinks strong you can also opt for the SRMWC ($22++), a take on the white Negroni which puts together Four Pillars rare dry gin with suze, Cocchi Americano Binaco and La Quintinye extra dry vermouth for a powerful, herbal tonic.
A lot more accessible is the Ginger Julie ($18++, above), featuring Monkey 47 gin, shiso sake, grapefruit and topped off with Erasmus Bond tonic. It’s actually named for Julien Nicolay, Monkey 47’s brand ambassador in this part of the world, and for good reason too. Aside from employing the German gin, the sugar paste smeared on the side of the glass that you’re supposed to lick as you drink is actually made with some of the 47 different botanicals used in the making of the gin, along with ground up dried Japanese pickled ginger. It’s a refreshing, perky and altogether delightful drink.
Those who prefer a sweeter hit can go for the Bananarama ($16++), a short drink made from house-infused and fat-washed banana caramel rum, vermouth, beer syrup, orange juice, aquafaba and cinnamon. Its flavours, reminiscent of a salted caramel banana tart, will bowl you over and make you fall in love in the first degree.
The bar snacks too, are fun. What you should go for is Ross-Watson’s T.F.C ($6/piece, pictured above), a fried chicken slider which gets an additional flavour boost from century egg mayo. Otherwise consider his playful Primal Buns ($6/piece), inspired by the “cow pie” loved by the character of Desperate Dan in the now-defunct British comic book series The Dandy. Unlike the massive meat pie, though, Ross-Watson’s take is essentially a char siew bun on a bone. If you’re more vegetarian inclined, the Carrot Dog ($5/piece) features a char-grilled carrot brushed with gula melaka as filling in a milk bread bun, along with curry ketchup, and pickled achar.
We’re big fans too of the Bag ‘O’ Skin ($5++), only because of its near-perfect British authenticity – the perfectly fried pork scratchings even come with a dip flavoured with Lea & Perrins Worchestershite sauce that’s perfect with a beer. More refined is the Pigaroon ($3++), a tiny bite-sized beetroot macaron swirl paired with pickled pig skin with cream cheese encased in pork belly and smoked bacon on a stick.
“We’re still refining our drinks menu, and will be swopping some stuff in and out as we work things out,” shares Ross-Watson. On the cards is a beer that’s actually infused with foie gras to add a hint of umami into the brew which we had a chance to sample; thankfully it tastes far better than as actually it sounds.
PYXIEMOSS will be a fine contender in next year’s The Bar Awards; all we can say is that we’re glad Tim Ross-Watson is finally back.
You can find PYXIEMOSS at 43 North Canal Road.