When French restaurant Brasserie Wolf closed its doors towards the end of the year in 2012, the foodies amongst us were shocked, to say the least. Nobody could have anticipated its sudden departure from the scene -- the kitchen, helmed by chef Claudio Sandri, was consistent in its execution, and more importantly, brought the wholesome quality fare to the tables at an accessible price point. "Yet another good restaurant gone too soon," we had lamented. Lucky for us then, that chef Sandri has resurfaced once again with a new venture.
What's the buzz: Spathe (named after the flower part) Public House, set up by the Swiss-born Sandri and New York native Christopher Lim, is, much like its owners, a melting pot of influences; Sandri's classical French training shifts towards a modern European sensibility (with Asian touches), while the restaurant, with its red booth seats, hanging light bulbs, and exposed brick walls adorned with colourful graffiti of a hummingbird in flight, is almost unbearably hip in all of its New York-Brooklyn whimsicality. And like the concept of communal dining that has taken the European dining scene by storm in the last year or so, Spathe welcomes -- nay, encourages -- diners to loosen their belts and dive right into its "mammoth-portions" dishes; they even provide the tools -- gardening forks and spades that double up as sharing utensils, of course -- to do so.
Spathe's Sous Vide Spanish Octopus Salad presents fresh baby spinach, orange, and garlic soil artfully tossed with honey and wholegrain mustard vinaigrette.
Must-try: Spathe's 'Mammoth Signatures' are meant to be shared amongst four to six diners, and its Mohamed Sultan Meter Dog (S$55 sharing/S$18 individual), a whole metre strip of veal and chicken curry wurst with wasabi mayonnaise and caramelised onions, has been the talk of the town -- finish it within ten minutes, and you get to eat it for free. We saved our precious stomach space instead, for a lovely Sous Vide Spanish Octopus Salad (S$38/S$18) of pieces of tender grilled octopus and fresh baby spinach laced with the most sumptuous wholegrain mustard vinaigrette, as well as the indulgent Confit Duck Puff (S$38/S$18). Top it up with the Foie Gras supplement (S$18/S$9) -- the warm earthiness of the liver makes a great complement with the luscious pulled duck flesh and buttery puff pastry.
Over at the 'Spathe Classics' section, the Spathe Australian Angus Burger (S$22), with hand-chopped grass-fed Angus beef patty, a sunny side-up, and savoury red pepper chutney, is an obvious choice for those craving the comforting munchies. The beef burger is delicious, but plays second fiddle to its supporting cast of Cajun-spiced garlic fries. Each perfectly-seasoned fry is the right amount of crisp and softness meant for devouring over beers, carbs be damned. The 12-Hour Slow-Cooked Pork Belly (S$24) too, is an impressively executed dish, all lushness with creamy mashed potatoes and knife-tender meat that's further enhanced when you break the yolk of the poached egg.
The Confit Duck Puff is one of the highlights on Spathe's menu, available in sharing or individual portions.
The Poached Pear Charlotte Royal (S$11) is the most intriguing of the lot on Spathe's still-small dessert offering. Unfortunately, the Madagascan vanilla custard, poached pear, and bread creation is a tad dry for our liking. You might want to opt for chef Sandri's handmade ice-cream instead.
Also look forward to: What's a restaurant-cafe without the pre-requisites of weekend brunch and set lunch menus? Classic favourites like Eggs Benedict and Classic Croque Madame are found on the brunch menu, while an affordably-priced two-course Weekday Lunch Set (from S$13) make for the perfect midday indulgence.
Verdict: Chef Sandri and Lim set up Spathe with every intention of it being a "convivial social house for everyday meals and drinks" rather than a extravagant one-off special-occasion restaurant, and they have accomplished that splendidly. Spathe, with its unpretentious grub, generous portions, and reasonable pricings, has all the makings of a Friday night hangout spot that we will be returning to time and time again.
Spathe Public House, 8 Mohamed Sultan Road, #01-01, +65 67351 035, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.spathepublichouse.com
Also nearby at Mohamed Sultan Road: one of our favourite steakhouses Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse.