cosy little art corner.
when i suggested to my cornell friends to come to artichoke to eat, i guess they weren’t used to my liking of hidden finds and the likes and hence i got this sms from one of my friends when she was reaching..
“frank, im reaching, but are you sure this is correct? im opposite fortune center and it looks positively seedy“
lol. well, sculpture garden is tucked away at the edge of middle road facing dubious looking buildings like fortune center and ma-kwang TCM clinic but well, its a hidden haven away from the bustle of the city — the compound was converted from an old church into an art gallery with an ensuite restaurant space that used to house the secret garden. we decided to visit the art gallery after our meal and found it a really cool exhibition space for up and coming artists. this is the side of singapore i like.
anyways, the interior of artichoke is like that of a casual relaxed cafe, with simple wooden chairs surrounding normal tables, the monotony of white washed walls interrupted with graffiti-esque designs and blackboards chalked with today’s specials. its kinda warm, perhaps to give the impression of an semi-alfresco dining but there’s a sense of an otherworldly-ness due to its secluded location.
service-wise, lets just say this place doesn’t exactly win any awards on that front. the servers aren’t exactly the friendliest and weren’t too helpful. first of all, considering there were 7 people on my table and the water jug on our table was perennially empty, i wonder why it wouldn’t have been easier to just give us two jugs. also, when we asked for recommendations for dessert, this dude said we could share a date pudding among three people, prompting us to recoil and wonder just how big the pudding was (it turned out to be nice for one -_-”). finally, the cardinal sin was when a server came and swiftly took awake our dish of date pudding with one final morsel left that we had been struggling to decide who to finish since we are chinese and we all have the “last piece aversion syndrome”. what a crime.. lol
nevertheless, the food was excellent, so lets get to it.
grilled haloumi cheese, $14
delicious. the grilled cheese tasted amazing and paired well with the savory condiments of walnuts, olive oil, tomatoes and the likes. that being said, we quickly realised an issue with 7 people at the table — simply put it, the style of dining at artichoke and the portion size of the dishes makes it exceedingly difficult for a group of 7 to feel satiated, considering one gets small morsels of every dish ordered, no matter how many. and mind you, i think we got a little carried away ordering dishes to satisfy our hungry stomachs to the point that the meal became an exorbitantly priced affair. you see, artichoke encourages you to share your dishes, and whilst sharing such-sized dishes is decent for 3 – 4 people, it’s not the case for 7.. you practically have to order double for each, which we failed to realise. (i blame all ordering issues to the service, since the servers should be astute enough to advise on such stuff)
its irritating when the food is actually really good, with really complex and interesting flavor profiles, and yet the service, portions, price and just the overall satisfaction level lets you down.
home-grown grilled mushrooms – $15
i never knew mushrooms could taste so good. nuff’ said. the seasoning, along with the freshness of the shrooms made for a refreshing and delicious dish.
poutine (hashbrowns pieces doused in oxtail gravy with oxtail bits, fresh prawns, red cheddar and argula) $28
i would have ordered this online for myself had i the choice. Poutine is something i had when i first headed to Canada and had always wished for it to appear on menus in Singapore - essentially a dish of french fries, fresh cheese curds covered with brown gravy, this version of your common fries is really something. I remember us students driving around trying to find a KFC along the Candian highway in order to get our poutine fix. anyways, this dish was really satisfying and good — the oxtail gravy and fresh prawns interpretation of a classic dish was creative and elevating the flavor profile of a long time classic. yum.
lamb rack, $28
there were six pieces on the dish. and seven of us. mind you, rationing of food was never as painful before, especially since the ribs were really tasty. but by then i was realizing the amount that we had ordered and how weirdly unsatisfying the portions were — like some tasting menu where u only got morsels of something good, instead of like servings of comfort food that you could really tuck in.
the date pudding that could be shared among 3 people. -_-”, $14
ok look at that dish and tell me that it can be honestly shared among 3 people. 3 anorexic ladies who had just weighed themselves a moment ago perhaps, but not 3 normal size individuals who weren’t feeling particular satiated. that being said, this dessert was amazingly good as well – the mixture of flavors from the peanut beanut, date pudding and salted caramel added many layers of complexity to the dessert experience, though i did feel that the sea salt grains were tad too large and made the salty profile a little heavy.
the bill eventually came up to around $40 a person (i am omitting some dishes we ordered). i mean, actually on hindsight, dining at a fine dining restaurant and having a dessert and a main course would probably have worked up to roughly that amount, but this place just felt oddly overpriced. i guess it was the fact that we were sharing what was single portions of desserts and small portions of mains and that the atmosphere spoke of comfort food than that of fine dining that made the meal seem really overpriced.
all in all, really delicious, good food that’s worth a try. don’t come with too large groups of people and know what to expect of the price range. the service is a little upsetting i guess and could be improved. 6.75*/10
*grr.. this is my first time giving a part score, mainly bcos the food was much above a 7.00 but the service and everything else threatened to drag it to a 6.5
artichoke | 161 middle road, sculpture square, s188978 | mediterranean, comfort food, desserts, delicious, little india