I found my favorite café of 2015 on the very last day of the year.
Open Farm Community (OFC) has been on my to-go-list for the last couple of months since it opened at 130E Minden Road (near Dempsey Hill) in July, but it was only on New Year's Eve when we couldn't score any reservations at some of the fine-dining establishments that was on our plans when OFC came to mind again. "Hey, let's just go to OFC and chill".
A collaboration between The Spa Esprit Group, chef-owner of Tippling Club, Ryan Clift, and award-winning food garden specialists, Edible Garden City, we found OFC to be such a refreshing breathe of air in the saturated café scene.
Of course, having the luxury of space (being situated in a sprawling piece of lush greenery which spans over 35,000 square feet) does give OFC a certain locational advantage when it comes to creating that rustic, back-to-nature atmosphere. My kind of place definitely.
To describe it as an urban farmland wouldn't be too far off, as edible crops such as fruits, herbs and vegetables are being grown in the garden and will eventually be harvested for use in the café's kitchen.
The premises also includes a sculpture garden, a coffee & juice bar, and a mini retail store carrying organic foodstuff. There's even areas for activities such as lawn bowling and table tennis, as well as a sand playground to keep the kids occupied.
In the center of these all stands a greenhouse-like restaurant where the main dining hall and semi-open concept kitchen is.
I especially adore the high ceilings and full height glass windows that inject an air of spaciousness and natural daylight into indoor area. Very welcoming and have that "Aussie-feel"! I would imagine it to have a different kind of charm in the evenings.
The timber-decked terrace serves as an alternative for patrons who prefers an alfresco experience. It was rather pleasant for us as the weather decided to be cooling instead of being typically humid that afternoon.
Cuisine at OFC seems to lean towards being modern European with Asian touches, comparatively straightforward as to the avant-garde theatrics that Chef Ryan is known for at Tippling Club.
The extensive use of herbs and vegetables is apparent in most of the dishes seen on the menu. Expect starters like Chilled Avocado & Ginger Soup ($22), mains such as Mangalica Pork Collar with Asian BBQ Glaze, Corn & Speck Ragout with Pickled Cucumber ($36) and Coal Baked Barramundi with Cucumber Coleslaw, Roasted Eggplant & Mint Dressing ($29), as well as a selection of pastas and desserts.
Starters such as Fermented Carrot Tartare ($25) and Warm Salad of Broccoli ($19) with pine nuts, sugar snap peas, crumbled feta and minden mint would suitably commence any meal on a light and healthy note.
What was really "corny" was the 3-in-1 platter of Sweet Corn ($16) with baby corns and popcorn! The corn itself was served on cob which can be deemed inconvenient to eat for some folks, but it did not deterred us from enjoying the corn's crisp, juicy freshness. The gentle seasoning with smoked paprika butter and chimichurri was very agreeable too.
Though the Coal-baked Omelette ($27) looked none at all photogenic, it was of utmost deliciousness with eggy aromatics and moist creaminess layered with smoked haddock, tarragon and grain mustard honey.
We concurred that the Potato Dumpling Gnocchi ($27) with shredded pork sausage, sun-dried tomato jus and fresh fennel was a tad on the bland side. The two other pasta dishes which we tried were more worthy of carbs-calories.
It was our bad that the Mud Crab Pappardelle ($29) was getting cold and clumpy by time we got to it but still, the taste was undeniably spot on. The lightly creamed Thai curry sauce was an absolute delight and complemented the handmade broad pasta noodles well, while slivers of crab meat were fresh and yellow squash added some crunch to the dish. That was indeed an overall winner which I've no qualms ordering again.
I would say the same for the Rigatoni ($28) too. The tube-shaped pasta was all of superbly-cooked al-dente goodness tossed with Stilton, local mushrooms, and smoked pancetta in balsamic reduction. Each mouthful was sheer UMAMI BOMB that was totally addictive! I LOVE it!
However, not everyone will appreciate the intense piquancy of this pasta dish that is coupled with blue cheese. It received mixed reactions from our group. One friend (who came late) wondered "what's that weird smell from the table", another couldn't get beyond two spoonfuls as she find it too heavy. But it also meant..... PinkyPiggu got to polish off the entire plate! Yay!
For something that is safer and more crowd pleasing, the Roasted Baby Chicken ($27) with braised leeks, hazelnut butter and wild watercress salad would be a good choice with adequately tender and juicy meat upon each bite.
The citrusy Lemon Tart with Basil Ice Cream ($18) and refreshing Caramelized Mango with textures of Coconut ($18) are two delightful dessert options to end the meal with.
My Latte ($5.50), brewed with beans supplied by Common Man Coffee Roasters, was a sole disappointment from its sad appearance to the rough, acidic taste. It would perhaps be wiser to just stick to drinks such as White Cherry Ice Tea ($12) or a Homemade Lemonade ($12).
For a relaxing meal experience amid a laidback ambience, OFC is unbeatable.
Certainly worth return visits.
Open Farm Community
Address: 130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819
Contact: +65 6471 0306
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 12pm-10pm / Sat, Sun & PH 11am-10pm
Prices stated are subject to 10% service charge and 7% GST.