Ever-changing menu at Blackwattle

Clayton Wells' (standing) and Joeri Timmermans' changing menu at Blackwattle will keep things fresh.
Clayton Wells' (standing) and Joeri Timmermans' changing menu at Blackwattle will keep things fresh.ST PHOTO: JAMIE KOH

Australian chef Clayton Wells likes to keep diners on their toes by regularly changing the items on his restaurant menu

If you like a dish at Australian chef Clayton Wells' restaurant, do not ask him to keep it on the menu. He is likely to do the exact opposite.

In his restaurant Automata in Sydney, for a period of 1½ years, he changed the menu every week.

The five-course menu there still changes regularly and he is likely to do the same at 60-seat restaurant Blackwattle in Amoy Street, which he is opening with restaurateur Loh Lik Peng, founder of hotel and restaurant group Unlisted Collection.

The 35-year-old Wells, who is in town for the opening of the four-day-old Blackwattle, says: "From a business point of view, it is a silly thing to do. But I do it so that people can expect something new at the restaurant.

"Every dish that stays on the menu limits creativity. So if someone tells me to never take off a dish, I'll take it off. Call me crazy, but it makes sense to me."

Blackwattle's five-course dinner menu costs $115++ and the three-course lunch menu is $48++. There will also be an a la carte menu, which the chef says will allow some popular dishes to be retained for a longer time.

A la carte options include dishes such as fried cheese & tapioca and espelette pepper ($10); kingfish tartare with capers, creme fraiche, yuzu kosho and plum ($28); stracciatella cheese, dried tomato, kombu and shellfish oil ($22); and Black Angus shortrib with carrot and kelp puree and dill pickle ($75) .

Expect to see seaweed in various forms in the dishes, as it is one of his favourite ingredients.

Besides being used in savoury dishes, it will also appear as roasted kelp oil in his dessert of yogurt sorbet, shiso, oxalis and black grapes.

In Singapore, an ingredient that caught his attention is the Indian gooseberry.

"I'm told it is usually pickled because it is bitter. We've candied it and are pairing it with mustard seeds and black peppercorns for use in a dessert," says Wells, who started out as a 19-year-old hotel apprentice cooking bacon and eggs for 150 people during breakfast service. He went on to work at acclaimed Sydney restaurants Quay and Tetsuya's.

Blackwattle will be helmed by Dutch head chef Joeri Timmermans, 28, who met Wells in 2013 when they both worked at Sydney's Momofuku Seiobo - Timmermans as a junior sous chef and Wells as sous chef.

Wells will shuttle between Sydney and Singapore.

He says: "The first three months of a restaurant opening are chaotic and it needs to stabilise. I do not fly in to open a restaurant and never come back. I will be here a lot."

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•Blackwattle at 97 Amoy Street is open from noon to 3pm (weekdays) and 6 to 11pm (Mondays to Saturdays). For more information, call 6224-2232 or e-mail info@blackwattle.com.sg.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 14, 2017, with the headline 'Ever-changing menu'. Print Edition | Subscribe