Lunch at Rishi Naleendra’s one-Michelin-star modern Australian joint is a boisterous affair. On workdays, the 40-seater fills up by half-past noon with primarily white collars indigenous to the Telok Ayer area, and the conversant crowd does not abate till well past 2pm.
And for good reason: Indulging in Cheek by Jowl’s inventive fare is to hop on a seesaw of comfort and adventure. Familiar textures and aromas go hand- in-hand with unconventional sauces and accompaniments, satiating the two minds of curious gourmands and making the prospect of return visits alluring. Take the fork-tender arctic char couched in buttermilk – standard issue freshwater fish executed deliciously. The spanner in the works is the dressing of fermented pear juice – a titillating and refreshing alternative to citrus, tweaked to the right intensity, and a defining foil that gives the pliant flesh a memorable edge.
That same dynamism extends to the booze offerings. You’ll get the usual Margaret Rivers and Saint-Emilions, and while the list is only inch-deep, it’s got representation that’s remarkable for such a small outfit, from South African Shiraz to Italian amarone. Adventurous, too, are the smatterings of organic and biodynamic wine.
(RELATED: Here’s what a day in Naleendra’s life looks like.)
It would be remiss to not mention the immense value of the sets. For under $100, two can have a quick two-course lunch. Want a protracted rendezvous with a bit of quiet at the tail end? Take the five-course for less than $150 (for two, after taxes). Never mind the serviceable seating or bistro-league proximity– Naleendra is plating up some high-quality nosh, and passing on only his fastidious ethic to his diners.
CHEEK BY JOWL
21 Boon Tat Street, S(069620)