(THE NEW PAPER) - For me, the allure of SPRMRKT was that it had a laidback charm even though it was in the chaotic part of the Central Business District, McCallum Street.
Now, the restaurant/bar/supermarket/art gallery has moved to Bukit Timah, hidden on the second storey of a conserved building (the even more relaxed Cluny Court). It feels like you can just sit there and do nothing for hours.
And when you are done, stroll around the Singapore Botanic Gardens.
SPRMRKT is chill and the food is exciting, even when it is simple.
The Spicy Prawn Linguine ($25) is one example.
It was a joy to look at and eating it was even better.
The spiciness was contained to the sambal belachan and it was subtle, although that trademark aroma was there. The addition of hae bee always works with pasta.
The Salted Egg Carbonara ($23) was more complicated and I thought it was less successful. It had chilli padi, curry leaves, garlic and cream and was topped with a sous vide egg, grated aged Parmesan and salted egg. On paper, it should work, but when I tasted it, I did not know what to focus on.
Maybe if two ingredients had been removed, it would not have felt so laboured.
The Salt Baked Beetroot with Anchovies ($20, from the dinner menu) was simple. It was thinly sliced baked beetroot with a dash of extra virgin olive oil, chives and cracked pepper.
The winning touch was the slices of anchovies on top. The saltiness of the anchovies went wonderfully with the sweetness of the beetroot, with the occasional hit of pepper. It was such a pleasure to eat this.
While I had dining companions who were raving about the achar on the Twice-Cooked Lamb Leg and Achar ($28), I thought the aromatic rub on the lamb was the star. I was seduced by the scent of cumin and fennel seeds. The lamb was moist and tender.
The SPRMRKT Florentine ($19) seemed common - two sous vide eggs, spinach and Hollandaise sauce. What set it apart are the flavourful house-made organic quinoa cakes, made with Russet potatoes and cooked quinoa.
It is healthy(ish) food that does not taste healthy - my favourite way to eat healthy food.