Housed in an art deco shop house, the interior of this New American restaurant features a quirky mix of mismatched chairs and cheery orange walls. The place serves recipes like shrimp and grits ($12), octopus salad ($9) and desserts like coffee panna cotta ($6). There’s also a three-course prix fixe meal ($45), including around six choices for each course. The food is sustainably sourced where possible and there is no bluefin tuna or foie gras on the menu.
This restaurant really oversells itself, calling the experience “an unpretentious take on fine-dining”. It’s nothing of the sort. The space is cute enough—housed in an old Chinatown shop-house, the walls are festooned with retro radios, pots and pans, and vintage concert posters. They even host live local music acts.
But fine-dining it is not. Service is well meaning but unpolished (they needed us to repeat our orders a couple of times). The crowd’s an odd mix of Mando-pop crazed teens (it seemed the only topic of dinner conversation) and sweaty tourists, all dressed in t-shirts and shorts.
The food is ambitious but largely falls flat. From the shrimp and grits ($12)—flaccid shrimp and lumpy cornmeal—to the coconut flan ($9), which tastes fine but is hideously plated with disparate elements like peanut cookie crumble, soggy lemongrass poached pear and a lone basil leaf (none of which added anything to the dessert). The only saving grace is that the wine’s cheap (from $9/glass, and you get 15% off that after 9pm on weeknights) and some of the food—like the zataar crusted swordfish belly ($16)—is actually decent and pretty affordable (once you wipe away the nonsensical condiments and toppings).
Think of it as a café: A worthy option if you’re looking for a reprieve from sticky crowded Temple Street, where you can sit with a cool drink. Just don’t go expecting fireworks.