Chef Rishi Naleendra returns with a brand new bistro that offers his signature modern Australian cuisine in a casual setting. Here's why you should check it out now

1. Brand new concept

Cheek Bistro is the younger and less serious sibling of the now-defunct one‑Michelin-starred Cheek by Jowl. It serves creative modern Australian fare that “speaks to the soul”, but diners will enjoy it in a more casual way as small and large sharing plates are favoured over tasting menus. While chef-owner Rishi Naleendra (pictured above left) is still involved with the restaurant, he has entrusted the day-to-day operations to his head chef Jay Teo (above right).

2. The chefs

Teo earned his stripes working at one‑Michelin-starred La Botica de Matapozuelos in Spain before joining chef Naleendra as a commis chef at Cheek by Jowl in 2016. He eventually became the chef’s right‑hand man. Of their working relationship, Teo says Naleendra has taught him that “chefs are not just simply cooks, we aim to create an experience for diners, connecting with them through food, and making them feel at home at Cheek Bistro”.

3. Modern Australian fare

Unlike restaurants that update their menus regularly, Cheek Bistro’s will not change as often so that diners can return to their favourites each time they visit. Highlights include a simple burrata with heirloom tomatoes, seasoned with olive oil, salt, pepper and lemon juice, and paired with fermented green chilli. The goat’s cheese parfait is another winner. Its pungent taste is balanced out by fresh mixed berries, berry jam and dehydrated strawberry, while white chocolate crumble adds texture.

4. Wine offerings

Chef Naleendra’s wife and closest collaborator, Manuela Toniolo, is behind the restaurant’s wine list which consists of more than 80 labels sourced from all over the world. While diners can decide on their choice of tipple, Toniolo and her team offer excellent recommendations. Some of her suggested pairings include the Spanish mackerel with the 2016 Marc Rougeot Aligoté ‘Les Plumes’, whose fruity acidity offsets the fish’s brininess, and the medium-bodied and fruity 2015 Vignoble des 2 Lunes Pinot Noir to complement the sumptuous meatiness and fattiness of the Iberico pork chop.

5. Casual and laidback vibe

Taking over the space formerly occupied by Cheek by Jowl, the bistro boasts a new design akin to an inviting home where guests can stay for good food, drinks and conversations. The open kitchen remains, but the dining area has been updated to include cushy booth seats and wooden tables that lend the space a convivial vibe. Chef Naleendra also added a few personal touches by decorating the walls with his own abstract paintings.
Cheek Bistro | 21 Boon Tat Street | 6221 1911 |

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