More cafes here are using sweet ingredients in savoury dishes and vice versa.
Think lush mentaiko sauce oozing out of toast at Meet & Melt in *Scape; umami chocolate ravioli with wild mushroom ragout at Antoinette in Penhas Road; and choux pastry topped with crunchy grilled vegetables at Angela May Food Chapters in Robinsons The Heeren.
As Antoinette's chef-owner Pang Kok Keong, 41, puts it: "Using chocolate in a dessert is a given. So it is more interesting when chocolate is used in cuisine."
For his Fetish Chocolat promotion, which runs until the end of this month, he has four savoury dishes on the menu. The one with the most robust chocolate flavour is the braised wagyu brisket with mustard and Guanaja chocolate (70 per cent cocoa), served with buttered pappardelle.
"It's about balancing the flavours and texture," says chef Pang, who uses Valrhona chocolate of different intensities for the dishes.
He admits that the sweet items sell better than the savoury ones. "The sweet options are definitely more accessible for diners. For the savoury options, they need a bit more coaxing. You have to really like chocolate to go for the savoury dishes."
He is working on a new item for Christmas - a savoury sandwich cake with roasted vegetables such as carrots, onions, kale and cauliflower.
Vegetables are also at the forefront of chef Angela May's savoury choux pastries at her eponymous restaurant.
She offers a trio of pastries - prawns in spiced sesame; tomato ricotta; and Josper-grilled vegetables. "The choux pastry makes a great base because it's versatile, like a blank canvas for all my creations," she says.
Diners are generally becoming more adventurous with regards to savoury desserts, but she tries to get the unconvinced to start with the cucumber jasmine mint choux, which is her favourite.
"It's far more leaning towards the sweet rating," she says.
At Ollella choux patisserie in Petain Road, co-owner Marcella Putri, 29, introduced a smoked salmon choux three months ago. The cafe specialises in choux pastries and tarts as well as kueh lapis.
She says: "Guys who come to Ollella with their female friends don't always want to eat something sweet. They would request something savoury instead. So at least we have an alternative for them and those who want something different.
"We don't display the smoked salmon choux as it needs to be made fresh. Regulars know about it and when diners see others eating it, they will order it too."
Diners are lapping up these experimental delights.
Student Daniel Lee, 20, says: "I heard a lot about the lava toasts at Meet & Melt and I'm a big fan of any food that has mentaiko on it. The lava toast didn't disappoint and I was pleasantly surprised that the bonito flakes would go so well with the mentaiko and ice cream."
Marketing manager Joline Tan, 34, says: "I've tried only the dessert choux items from Ollella. Now that it has a smoked salmon one, I'll definitely try it. I'm sure the flavour will go nicely with the sweet choux pastry."
Dishes to try
MENTAIKO LAVA TOAST
Mentaiko, marinated cod roe, is a popular addition to dishes such as pasta, seafood and even bread. Meet & Melt, known for its lava toasts, has introduced a savoury mentaiko lava toast ($17.90) served with bonito flakes, sea salt gula melaka ice cream and marshmallows. And if you are feeling adventurous, the menu also features a curry lava toast.
Where: Meet & Melt outlets at 02-33 *Scape, 2 Orchard Link; and 915 Tampines Street 91, 01-49
Besides its selection of dainty and delicious choux pastries, Ollella's menu also has a smoked salmon choux ($7.50) with gruyere bechamel mayonnaise and cherry tomatoes, which is good for a picnic party or an indulgent tea break. For its upcoming pop-up at Takashimaya Department Store's Basement 2 Food Hall from Oct 24 to Nov 6, the choux specialist will also introduce mini macarons with two savoury flavours - curry and shoyu wasabi.
Besides the array of sweet treats available under Antoinette's Fetish Chocolat promotion, there are also four savoury dishes that should not be missed. Start with a roasted carrot with balsamic and dark chocolate dressing salad ($18) with serrano ham, strawberries and feta cheese. Also try the chocolate ravioli filled with wild mushroom ragout, cooked in sausage cream sauce ($22); sous vide salmon with white chocolate hollandaise ($28); and braised wagyu brisket with mustard and dark chocolate served with buttered pappardelle ($30).
Where: Antoinette, 30 Penhas Road
Open: Till Oct 31, 11am to 10pm (Monday to Thursday), 11am to 11pm (Friday and eve of public holiday), 10am to 11pm (Saturday), 10am to 10pm (Sunday and public holiday)
Info: Call 6293-3121
BITS AND PIECES SAVOURY YOGURT
The latest addition to Miam Miam's yogurt selection is Bits and Pieces ($4.90, above). The sweet yogurt is topped with shredded seaweed, bonito flakes and bacon bits - a nod to the restaurant chain's Japanese influence.
Where: Miam Miam outlets at 01-21 Westgate, 3 Gateway Drive; 02-14 Bugis Junction, 200 Victoria Street; and 01-62 Waterway Point, 83 Punggol Central
Open: 11.30am to 9.45pm (Sunday to Thursday), 11.30am to 10pm (Friday and Saturday)
Choux pastry, normally used to make profiteroles filled with sweet pastry cream or dipped in chocolate, gets a savoury spin at Angela May Food Chapters. The three options are ($5.90 each) prawns in spiced sesame; tomato ricotta; and Josper-grilled vegetables.
Where: Angela May Food Chapters, 02-02 Robinsons The Heeren, 260 Orchard Road
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