(TNP) - Venue by Sebastian is one of the latest restaurants to open in the CBD, at the new Downtown Gallery.
The restaurant has pedigree in the form of two popular chefs in the kitchen.
Chef-owner Sebastian Ng is the former chef-owner of Restaurant Ember.
With him is chef de cuisine Jonathan Lee, the former head chef of Artichoke.
With their combined talents, it is no surprise that the menu is European.
At Venue, the dishes are meant to be shared and the mood is casual.
You even tick the items you want off a menu and pass it to the server.
While it sounds laid back, the food is not.
Each dish appears simple but is a medley of textures and flavours.
The star of the menu seems to be the attractive wood-grilled chermoula chicken with lemon ($15 per leg).
The chicken is marinated for two days in a house-made chermoula (commonly made with cumin, coriander and garlic) and slow-grilled over wood fire, resulting in tender, aromatic chicken.
It was the highlight of my meal.
The best dishes at Venue are also the lighter ones.
One is the Spanish gem lettuce with parmigiano reggiano and light anchovy dressing ($9).
The savoury dressing went well with the crisp lettuce.
The chilled romanesco with lemon vinaigrette, almonds and parmigiano reggiano ($12) is as refreshing as it looks.
It is a clean and simple dish, best on a stuffy, humid day.
While the cauliflower fritti with spicy mint aioli ($10) may not look as light, each floret is crunchy and the coat is light.
The deep frying didn't add heft. The mint aioli also helped.
The pasta dishes are only available for dinner, so if you're there in the evening, try the handcut pasta with duck ragout and parmigiano reggiano ($21).
This is an earthy, soulful bowl of pasta that will fill your stomach after all the salads.
The ragout is flavourful and would stand on its own too.
Venue by Sebastian, Downtown Gallery
Mondays to Saturdays 11.30am to 3pm, 6.30pm to 10pm; Tel: 6904-9688