Jaan by Kirk Westaway’s Summer Menu 2019 Brings You To The British Isles
The last 12 months have been quite eventful for chef Kirk Westaway and his team at Jaan. Exactly a year ago, he embarked on a new direction, shifting the restaurant's focus from France to Britain with a menu aptly called “Reinventing British”. It showed the Devon native's commitment to championing seasonal British ingredients and British cuisine, an approach that was well-received by diners and critics alike thus cementing Westaway’s imprint on Singapore's fine dining scene.
The changes he introduced enhances the reputation of Jaan as a place that prizes innovation, creativity and risk-taking. Perhaps it has something to do with being so high up—it's on the 73rd level of the Swissotel Stamford to be exact—that it continues to inspire (and incubate) many of the city's culinary talents to reach new heights. Award-winning chefs Andre Chiang and Julien Royer both made their mark while working at Jaan and proceeded to create their own stellar restaurants. Westaway, however, has sought to make Jaan his home.
It’s not just visible in the new name—the restaurant is now called Jaan by Kirk Westaway—but also evident in the playful details. From the rotation of music by the likes of The Cure and Garbage to the menu’s whimsical palate cleanser Pimm’s in the Park, which is served nestled in grass and with a card bearing a personal poem from the chef, Westaway shows you that this incarnation of Jaan is that one he truly owns.
The Start: Quintessentially British
When the Reinventing British menu first launched in summer 2018, it was seen as a daring move by chef Westaway. A year later, we can all agree that it has paid off handsomely necessitating only a slight tweak this time around. The menu has introduced many delightful dishes, including an array of snacks that showcase British ingredients and inflections that make for a very successful opening act.
Our favourites include Westaway's take on Fish and Chips—it encompasses the flavour and texture of the actual dish in a mini tartlet—as well as the delicious Devon Cheddar Cheese Buckwheat Pancake, which I sometimes joke he should make available by the bucket (it's dangerously addictive).
The Feel: Light and Bright
Chef Westaway has a real talent for creating dishes that really brighten up the palate, perhaps because he weaves plenty of vegetables whenever possible. A good example of his love of greens is English Garden (seen above as the anchor picture)—a beautifully-plated dish of over 30 seasonal vegetables that quickly became his signature and subsequently took Instagram by storm last year.
In the current menu, he introduces another version of a light, fresh plate in the form of the Summer Beans Salad. A play on the "classic British salad", it features crisp sweet beans in season and is served with quinoa as well as a dollop of burrata.
The Motto: Simple Yet Complex
The next time you dine at Jaan, take a closer look at the personalised menu and you'll notice their tagline "Simple Yet Complex" written on top of it. The motto is fairly straightforward, and I take this as chef Westaway's intention to put British produce front and centre as well as to impart his nuanced interpretation of modern British cuisine. In other words, why overcomplicate things when the produce is so good? At the same time, however, Westaway clearly still wants to showcase his technique and creativity.
This is best exemplified by the main dish, which is divided into two parts: first is the Salt Marsh Lamb, a loin of flavourful, incredibly marbled meat from Northern Wales; it is followed by his version of Shepherd's Pie, made with ground lamb shoulder and creamy mashed potato that tastes comforting yet clean. Another dish that showcases his ability to create refined dishes sans pretention is the Roasted Langoustine with Violin Courgette, which features Scottish langoustine cooked to succulent perfection.
The Touches: Delightfully British
The British thread shines through the entire experience of dining at Jaan. First, general manager Simone Macri or someone from his team welcomes you with a glass of Nyetimber, an English sparkling wine. Before the tasting proper begins, a server arrives to present butter tableside, carefully plating the lightly salted Devon butter sourced close to chef Westaway's hometown.
Dessert also changes depending on what nature makes available. Last month, I had the Strawberry Pancake, an ode to the season's sweetest strawberries, and most recently I enjoyed the Roasted Peach and Cream, a classic combination that's a new addition to their repertoire. A year after Westaway made the leap to put his culture and heritage on a plate, I'm sure many, like me, are delighted that we have a trusted place to enjoy elevated British cuisine—one that comes with a stunning view of the city's skyline to boot. And all it takes is a quick drive, a 90-second elevator ride, and at least 2 hours to immerse yourself in Westaway's wonderful world.