Spearheaded by new head chef Alysia Chan, The Black Swan’s newly-introduced dining menu is a more carefree culinary exploration in CBD dining.
Let’s face it; corporate dining – client lunch meetings, or after-work team dinners – can be excruciating. It’s not just the stunted conversations about market turnarounds or the latest industry developments, but most venues that cater to such dining also neuter their offerings accordingly to suit the occasion. We’re talking about the most agreeable of eats – cue panfried chicken breast, or grilled cod – to pander to most palates and appetites. Or dishes that don’t require wrestling with crustacean shells or bones, and those with the least chance of spilling sauce on expensive suits.
Hence, the conversation is almost never about the food.
The kitchen of The Black Swan, a chophouse located as it is right smack in the middle of Singapore’s Central Business District, for the longest time suffered the indignity of doing exactly that – pandering to corporate diners. But new Head Chef Alysia Chan is built of different stock. Formerly of more casual eateries Meatsmith and Crackerjack, she’s more concerned with delivering flavour while minimising wastage in the kitchen.
So instead of simply butter, beef tallow – rendered from steak trimmings – is incorporated into butter that’s served with bread in the Housemade Sourdough, Whipped Beef Fat Butter ($8++). Or how about the Broccoli & Pine Nut Hummus ($14++), which takes broccoli stems usually discarded and turns them into some of the creamiest, tastiest vegan-friendly dips, ever? The Crab & Venus Clam Trofie Pasta ($32++) too, employs bread ends that’s rendered into pangrattato to provide additional texture to the marinara-based pasta.
But it’s not just about sustainability. The house-made Charcuterie Platter ($38++) is an exercise in pushing culinary boundaries, with its own approach in in-house fermentation and aging of guanciale, lardo and ‘nduja.
The Black Swan’s irreverent take on chophouse classics.
Even with classics Chan tries to shake things up. No Lobster Thermidor here, but instead the Grilled Main Lobster ($60++) is all that and better. Rather than have the crustacean smothered in cream and cheese that would have masked the sweetness of the shellfish, she leaves the lobster as it is. Instead it’s given a Catalonian whirl with romesco sauce that enhances rather than detracts from the lobster. The accompanying black barley and corn risotto is delicious too, and doesn’t sit heavily in the belly like most rice-based risottos tend to do.
Then there’s steak. Sure you can be boring and go for ribeye or tenderloin, but the Mishima Reserve Wagyu Ultra Flat Iron ($60++) or the Westholme Wagyu Bavette ($54++) is where it’s truly at. Oyster blade and flank takes clever cookery to coax out its flavour while maintaining tenderness, and The Black Swan delivers.
But really, if there’s one dish that we highly recommend in The Black Swan’s new dining menu, it’s the Roasted Hokkaido Pork Loin ($38++). While we’re none too enamoured by the vanilla-scented cauliflower puree it comes with, this pork cut has got to be the juiciest and tenderest pig we’ve set to mouth in recent time.
The kitchen aside, The Black Swan also sees bar supervisor Joanna Lee take the helm at its bar. Her Cecil Sour ($19++) is a take on the Clover Club but with a housemade berry shrub replacing the grenadine for a fruity, piquant tipple. We’re a big fan too of her Ginger & Spice Highball ($18++), which features a house concocted ginger-infused spiced rum blend that’s combined with citrus and a touch of bitters. It does so help to wash out the masses of wanker bankers that inhibit the bar here.
Considering her irreverent take on dining in the CBD, we ask Chef Alysia if she’ll ever introduce her quinoa fried chicken – a massively popular hit from her time at the now-defunct Crackerjack – here at The Black Swan. It’ll be perfect as a lunch option, we tell her, and it’s far tastier than boring pan-fried chicken breast.
“Yes, that may work for lunch,” Chan muses. “Let me think about it.”
Now that dish would make great dinner conversation.
The Black Swan
Address 19 Cecil St, Singapore 049704 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11.30am to 11.30pm Mondays to Fridays, 5pm to 11.30pm on Saturdays; closed Sundays and public holidays