This dreamy song of a restaurant will have you floating on a cloud.
Unlike many shophouse restaurants, Cloudstreet on Amoy Street is squarish in layout, high-ceilinged and blessed with a skylight. Space, coupled with the deep browns of teak wood and forest greens of crew aprons send out a reassuring vibe. Staff whiz around to catch your next drop, while sommelier Vinodhan Veloo is happy to regale you with stories about natural and classic wines.
But maybe a little sleekness is to be expected. This is a project by general manager Gareth Burnett, formerly of Amaru, Melbourne, and team chef Rishi Naleendra-Manuela Toniolo. The latter couple is behind the former Cheek by Jowl on Boon Tat Street, a restaurant that retained its Michelin star despite morphing into the more casual Cheek Bistro earlier in the year. Says chef Rishi, a Sri-Lankan born Australian chef, “Just as clouds spark the imagination, I am excited to present an experience that reflects the innovation of our kitchen.”
Like the emotive paintings that dot the space, including chef Rishi’s own, unusual dishes and inspired beverage pairings complement all that is solid, calm and polished. A meal here (from $68 for three-course lunch and $168 for five-course dinner) presents the familiar and the unfamiliar with the newness of a rearranged song. To catch all the offbeats, savour the maestro’s range through an alcoholic, non-alcoholic or a half-and-half pairing.
At our seven-course dinner, grilled Coffin Bay oyster wrapped in betel leaf served with coconut milk and finger lime makes an understated intro. While the Irish oyster with smoked tomato granita at the old Cheek by Jowl refreshed you like a splash of cool water, this rendition lets the chef’s Sri Lankan and Australian background shine through like a gentle bask in the warmth of the tropics. Morsels quickly follow in different octaves of temperatures, textures and tastes: the white beetroot with smoked goat cheese, pickled raisins and puffed rice has a light crunch and sweet, savoury notes; the icy green pea sorbet dropped in a warm smoked eel broth with beluga caviar is altogether silky smooth, rich and umami.
Moving on to the mains, the tempo slows down a smidgen, as if a reminder to pay closer attention to the flavour notes to be played. A slinky coil of kohlrabi, nori and scallop mousse for instance, is juxtaposed with a sour cream snow in a melange of earthy flavours. If the taste meter ever veers towards the raw and vegetal, a blue pea and compressed green apple juice is there to refresh the palate.
Venison tartare, fermented plum and cashew, topped with baby zucchini—an iteration of a Cheek By Jowl number—is paired with a New World red wine from from David and Nadia, a family-owned winery in the Swartland of the Western Cape province of South Africa. The Pinotage 2017 and its red fruit notes jump in to neutralise any faint gaminess of the tartare.
Then there’s one of our favourites and another study in contrasts—the Sri Lankan yellow curry of Western Australian marron and millet cooked in marron stock, coconut milk and Sri Lankan spices. Brushed with marron head butter, the marron tail is cooked over binchotan. Each bite is a contrast of smoky, chewy crustacean with a mild curried millet and a little punchiness from the celery and fennel salad. A smoky, mildly sweet apple and fennel juice complements the course.
It’s just as well that the bread course is served later in the meal. Rather than an interlude, the Singapore stout and liqourice bread is more like a bridge to the next chorus. The rye bread glazed with molasses is light, yet dense; savoury, yet sweet; and goes perfectly with the French butter salted in-house. Manuela says they were holidaying in Europe when they came across liquorice bread, and thought it would be amazing to offer that on the menu. They didn’t want to fill people up, but felt it would set the tone well for the next meat dish on the menu.
It does just that. From the weighty bread, the meal segues to the sparsely plated roasted saddle of lamb with Sri Lankan young jackfruit curry wrapped in radicchio leaves, mint and green chilli chutney and a spring onion sambal. The Mottainai lamb from Western Australia, in its lifetime fed on a diet that includes carrots and olive oil, is very tender, delicate, not gamey at all, and well-matched with the mildly bitter notes of the radicchio and the mint and savoury notes of the other elements.
Among the desserts, a standout is Mushroom, an intricate construction of porcini mushroom custard, porcini cake, malt vinegar caramel, caramelised milk skins, milk sorbet and caramelised cacao nibs that is equal parts savoury, earthy and sweet. Until its very last note, the meal is a dreamy piece. It makes you want to stay a while, get lost in a cloud of reverie even. Preferably with another order of that bread.
84 Amoy Street. Info@cloudstreet.com.sg