SINGAPORE - (THE BUSINESS TIMES) I was thinking of writing this in Old English to match the name of the restaurant but I figured it would be awaestan blodlaestid - which either means waste of time or a time for blood-letting. After all, this new eatery cheerily mangles language and evolutionary history in a quirky dining space that commands more attention for its concept than what's on the actual menu.
Fire, Kitchen and Drink - which is appropriately located in the CBD on hipster-friendly Boon Tat Street - should maybe hand out flyers or something to explain to first-timers that Fyr is Old English for "fire" and not pronounced "fir", nor is it an acronym for "For Your Reference". The fire analogy is carried both to the walls covered with whimsical cartoons of cavemen as well as the sweltering temperature of the dining space, thanks to an open door, the current heatwave and the many bodies crammed into the tight tables lured by the very friendly set lunch pricing.
The manager can only shrug apologetically as he points to the air-conditioning temperature control on the wall which displays 28 degrees Celsius even though they've turned it down to the lowest possible. I dunno, is closing the main door not an option, or would that make Fyr a well, fire trap?
Fyr Cycene Ond Drinc
19 Boon Tat Street
Open Monday to Friday from 11.30am to 11pm; Sat: 9am to 11pm; Sun: 9am
Once you adjust the stickiness of your clothes, you can appreciate the effort that has gone into crafting Fyr's concept. You've got the ancient language and caveman schtick (with very nicely drawn graffiti art on the wall), dinner menus made out of rough wooden boards, stone serving ware and not-so-comfy wooden chairs. The going-back-in-time look supports the menu which highlights food in its simplest form, cooked over fire as the cavemen did, only no caveman could boast owning a nifty Josper charcoal oven with its highly tuned capability to grill and bake with utmost efficiency.
So you can expect a menu that has little by way of fancy fixin's - mainly seafood and meat that's put through the Josper and adorned with sauces and garnishes which are the only way to test the chef's mettle, apart from his oven skills.
While there's no a la carte menu at lunch, most of the choices will also be found at dinner. Which makes lunch - at S$25 for two courses and three courses for S$29 - an exceedingly good deal because the portions are very decent and they don't bulk up the menu with fillers like pasta or fancy-sounding mushroom capuccinos.
Instead, fairly upscale ingredients show up, such as US Bay Scallop and foie gras as your appetiser. The scallops are your generic frozen specimens but are slightly better than fishballs with career aspirations - these taste more real, with a natural bite. The three nuggets are attractively charred and topped with a few pellets of ikura, served with tender roasted fennel chunks and surrounded by a swirl of intensely salty basil pesto that is ok in little dabs.
A generous slice of foie gras does justice to its duck owner with its crisp burnt exterior playing off the tender creaminess within, rounded off with a sour berry sauce and light grilled brioche slice.
Only Norwegian salmon and a seafood linguine in lobster bisque are options that keep to the set lunch price, with grain-fed US Holstein striploin and Spanish pork collar requiring a S$13 top-up each. We regret not picking the linguine as the salmon is strictly ordinary - having overstayed its welcome in the Josper and arriving a couple of shades dry, although an orange cream sauce helps to mitigate it a little.
The beef, too, enjoys its lychee wood grilling a little too long. It comes medium rare as requested but only in a very thin sliver blanketed by a well cooked top and bottom. Most promising is the iberico pork which tastes tantalisingly like char siew but needs to sit in its marinade longer.
What takes the cake, literally, is the baked pistachio melt and pandan ice cream - an inspired take on chocolate lava cake where a pistachio sponge oozes with creamy coconut-pandan cream, with pandan ice cream for added tropical delight. We're not as taken by the grilled fruit in a red wine syrup with too much lemon juice, paired with otherwise refreshing basil sorbet.
Fyr may not fire up the imagination but it's a reliable source of fuss-free sustenance that modern cave dwellers can appreciate.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
This article was first published on May 11, 2015.
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