When I wrote about the Christmas (2015) offerings at the InterContinental Singapore, I mentioned about the opening of the brand new Ash & Elm (which took over Olive Tree Restaurant early this year). I have had the privilege of checking out this brand new venue last month and was blown away by the quality of food served there. Read on to find out what are some of the best dishes I have sampled!
Occupying where Olive Tree used to sit, the new all-day dining concept, Ash & Elm offers great food in a much sexier space. There are semi-private dining areas, plenty of sitting configurations and even some surprises (more on this later!). Ash & Elm is also where breakfast is served for the in-house guests at the InterContinental Singapore.
These seats right here offer unparalleled view into Ash & Elm's show kitchen where you can watch as the chef and cooks prepare your meal in front of your eyes. If you have been to Ash & Elm during breakfast, you will probably notice that these counter tables are where the hot food selections go in the morning - this leads me to a single question. How do they do it? With completely hidden induction plates beneath the surface of these counters, food can be kept warm by activating the (hidden) switch. At night, these concealed mechanisms are turned off and this space is immediately converted into tables where guests can enjoy a theatrical experience while dining. Ingenious!
One of the things you will notice (especially if you let your nose guide you) as you enter Ash & Elm is the massive wood-fired ovens where the flat breads are made fresh.
Starting our dinner with the signature Ash & Elm Platter (S$24++ | S$42++), we had a taste of some of the best charcuterie in the city - house-cured beef pastrami, smoked pork loin, cold-roasted beef, air-dried pork belly, and even a terrine or foie gras with smoked duck.
For all bacon lovers, you have to give the Pumpkin and Bacon Flat Bread (S$18++) a try. Freshly-baked in the wood-fired oven, this Flat Bread is the perfect combination of sweet and savoury. It reminds me a little bit of pizza dough but a lot more fragrant and a lot more satisfying without the guilt of eating copious amounts of cheap cheese. The pumpkin seeds on the flat bread also adds some brunch to the delicious bacon surprise you get as you go along.
Available in two sizes, the Burratina Cheese (S$19++ | S$26++) is served with heirloom tomatoes. This classic dish is executed with strict respect for quality ingredients. The light homemade pesto and basil helps to add dimension to the satisfying texture of the cheese - this is something all burrata-lovers will have to order!
One of the best dishes I have sampled during my dinner tasting at Ash & Elm is the Beef Tasting Platter (S$108++). This sharing plate comes with a selection of three meats - the Australian Rib-eye Steak, USDA New York Striploin and the less well-known French Bavette d'Aloyau. Enough to feed at least two adults comfortably, this tasting platter also comes with some roasted vegetables and a medley of sauces - Béarnaise, peppercorn and natural jus.
This second dish that really stood out to me was the French Free-range Yellow Chicken Supreme (S$29++). This seemingly simple dish was chicken cooked to perfection - one that I can eat every day without ever complaining. This corn-fed chicken is cooked until tender (while still remaining moist) with herbs like rosemary and thyme before being dressed in a sweet and savoury sauce. The winning component for this dish however was the creamy polenta that was cooked to absolute perfection. If you are a chicken-lover, you will definitely have to give this one a try!
The most underwhelming-looking dish is probably the Seafood Linguini (S$31++). Even though I did not actually try this dish out personally, the generous servings of fresh seafood like scallops, squids, clams and prawns.
The other dish that was highly-raved about at Ash & Elm is the Slow-grilled Spanish Iberico Pork Chop (S$39++) whose presentation looked really similar to the Beef Tasting Plate.
If you thought the mains and the meats look good, you have not seen (or tasted) desserts. One of the things that I often feel sad about is that the Pastry Chefs at leading hotels around Singapore do not get enough attention. This is exactly the case in InterContinental Singapore where the dessert prodigy, Ben Goh, who has won multiple awards regionally, do not get properly recognised where credit is due. The reason I am saying this is because the desserts are simply amazing - and this is coming from someone who does not like desserts at all. The Salty Chocolate Rum-raisin (S$14++) will be the best money spent ever on desserts. Visually, the dish looks stunning and the smart play of flavours and textures will blow you away.
The Chocolate-hazelnut Pizza (S$24++) is a dessert to be shared, for sure. Before you freak out, the pizza resembles a brownie just slightly more chewy and softer. It reminds me of a cross between the best of Ben's Cookies (not to be associated with Pastry Chef Ben Goh) and Mrs. Fields while incorporating the rich taste of Valrhona chocolates. Served with a vanilla-bean ice-cream on the side, this dish deserves a spot in your dessert stomach for sure.
Other desserts that you should check out at Ash & Elm include the Apple Tartin, Peach Melba and the Yuzu Citrus Combination - all available at S$14++ each.