Cheek by Jowl was one restaurant I could hardly wait to pass its first birthday to visit. Part of the ever-growing club of restaurants under Loh Lik Peng's Unlisted Collection, the modern Australian restaurant had garnered quite a number of laurels since it opened its doors a little over a year ago.
It's little wonder why: the food at Cheek by Jowl was absolutely fantastic, with nary a wrong move. Every plate tasted as good as it looked. And it embodied what I love about Australian cuisine: fresh produce that stood out on its own, finessed with restrain so focus was on its natural flavours. For sure, Cheek by Jowl is definitely going to be one of 2017's best eats.
Service was personable, albeit intrusively eager. The staff asked multiple times (I counted at least thrice) to clear our plates when it was patently obvious I was still picking at the fish and duck. I'm a slow eater, especially when I'm caught up chatting with friends, so it was (mildly) irritating to feel rushed through my dinner. I mean, it wasn't as if the restaurant needed to free up space for other waiting diners, so let me finish my food in peace, please.
A classic Aussie fish, the Barramundi ($34) was a big hit, with paper-crisp skin that crackled, and flaky luscious flesh. Sided by charred lettuce, this was sprinkled with prawn floss for a umami kick and onion foam. A must-try.
The Duck Confit Leg ($38), seasoned in five-spice caramel, was cooked to a fall-off-the-bone texture. The sumptuous heft of the meat was given a refreshing lift by a cool cucumber salad and lashings of fresh mint, while piping hot waffles were a brilliant accompaniment to the sweet syrup of the duck.
I love sweet peppers, and the beautifully charred Padron Peppers ($9) made for an awesomesauce appetizer with its mild heat, subtle sweetness, and punchy smokiness.
The neutral base of Baby Gem ($12) set off the macadamia cream, grated parmesan snow, and basil syrup wonderfully. This was at once lively and mellow.
To round off the meal, we shared the Burnt Pear ($15), softened by the grill, and paired with hay panna cotta, pear sorbet, salted caramel crumbs and fresh thyme. A lovely contrast of textures and nicely balance.
Cheek By Jowl
21 Boon Tat Street
Tel: 6579 2020
Open Mondays to Fridays from 11.30am to 2.30pm for lunch;
Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner;
Closed on Sundays