Despite agrarian challenges or “impossibilities”, four urban restaurants are dishing food straight from their very own gardens.


Photo courtesy of The Summerhouse

With land scarcity and soaring real estate prices in Singapore, it is no surprise that 90 per cent of our food is imported. Even with these conditions, the farm-to-table dining scene is growing rapidly with many chefs and restaurants cultivating food in their own backyard and banding together with local, urban and regional farms all in a concerted effort to rethink food sources and reconnect them to people.

Here we introduce four forward-looking restaurants that are finding innovative ways to adapt the farm-to-table concept to their business models, their motivations behind doing this, and the unique creations they are dishing from earth to plate.    

Open Farm Community

Photo courtesy of Open Farm Community

Close to Home
This restaurant-garden (better known as OFC) by homegrown company Spa Esprit Group is headed by chef Ryan Clift and is a collaboration with urban farmers, Edible Garden City. Its Dempsey Hill outlet houses its own herb and flower garden and “goes local” with 90 per cent of ingredients sourced locally and from regional producers within a 400-kilometre radius.

The concept was conceived not only with good food in mind but with community-centredness and an environmental cause. Ingredients are grown instead of air-flown, so OFC is able to offer high quality, fresh food at a cheaper price. The process also ensures that carbon footprints from importing produce are reduced. What’s more, OFC offers free orchard tours and gardening workshops, helping urbanites deepen their relationship with food.

Where it hits the spot, though, is Clift’s latest menu update in November. He rolled out 10 new dishes inspired by quintessential Singapore flavours such as chicken rice ginger chilli and a lemak-inspired curry. He created these by marrying freshly-plucked ingredients with their philosophy of consuming food as close to its source as possible. 

Call 65 647 10306 or email for reservations.

The Summerhouse

Photo courtesy of The Summerhouse

Back to Our Roots
The Summerhouse is 1-Group’s latest dining concept, which is housed in an old colonial bungalow within the revamped, verdant space at The Oval @ Seletar Aerospace park. The kitchen is helmed by chef de cuisine Florian Ridder, former sous chef at the Michelin-starred Alma by Juan Amador at Goodwood Park Hotel.

While the restaurant cultivates its own edible garden, from which 100 per cent of garnish is harvested, it also networks with a farming collective comprising Singaporean and Malaysian farms, a Singapore kelong fish farm, and the urban farming community. These partnerships aim to retrace the traditional ‘kampong spirit’ of networking with the community, at the same time, ensuring the produce is consistently fresh and quality controlled.

The menu draws inspiration from nature and includes signatures such as the buckwheat porridge—a homey, comfort bowl, sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds and topped with freshly picked herbs from the edible garden. “This is one dish that combines memories for most people, and I’m very happy how this dish plays with the expectations of being a ‘poor man’s food’,” says Ridder.

Call 6262 1063 or email for reservations.

Janice Wong

Photo courtesy of Janice Wong

Edible Art
Our reigning dessert queen applies the farm-to-table approach to all her dining establishments in Singapore, Japan and Hong Kong; it’s never more evident than at Cobo House by 2:am dessertbar in Hong Kong. The 3,000 sq ft establishment comprises a rooftop garden where organic herbs and edible plants flourish and are plucked fresh for creations on the menu.

This idea is centred on ‘minimal wastage’, flavour and techniques that are themed around art and dining_tatler_stories. The menu offers signatures such as Cassis Plum, H20 Chocolate, and are deeply rooted in her childhood experiences and memories of growing up and travelling to many farms and markets with her parents.

Call 9712 5338or email for reservations.

The Kitchen at Bacchanalia

Photo courtesy of The Kitchen at Bacchanalia

Giving Back
While this one Michelin-starred establishment doesn’t claim to be a farm-to-table restaurant, it borrows similar principles to ensure that it receives and serves only the highest quality product. For instance, it rents its own space at a local aquaponics farm to grow a small variety of greens such as salad leaves, basil and peas used in their menu. Part of the fees for their farming space is also channeled to help the needy students in the North-West Community Development Council.

What the Hong Kong Street restaurant celebrates is a sensitive fusion of fresh ingredients with a well-travelled, multicultural and innovative perspective. Led by Australian chef Luke Armstrong, The Kitchen at Bacchanalia offers novel new dishes such as the grass-fed tenderloin, creatively expressed with roast, aubergine compote, garlic veloute, bone marrow and thyme jus, with a Moroccan touch. The other compote is made with local aubergine, cooked fast to retain flavour including sushi vinegar. The diced bone marrow in this dish gives the sauce texture. Supplementing aquaponics veggies are also food sourced from its organic farm in Malaysia’s Cameron Highlands, rare fruits from Penang, and garnish fresh from their own backyard.

Call 65 9179 4552 or click here for reservations.


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