Venue by Sebastian
Restaurant Ember’s former chef strikes out after three-year hiatus with a casual dining concept
Chef Sebastian Ng made a name for himself at the now-defunct, semi-fine dining Restaurant Ember, which closed in 2014. Now, he has opened Venue, a modern European small plates concept. Unlike Ember, Venue is in every way a casual diner. Be sure to try the Cold Pasta ($22) with konbu and truffle oil.
The buzz: Chef Sebastian Ng made a name for himself at the now-defunct, semi-fine dining Restaurant Ember. After the restaurant closed in 2014, little was heard from Ng, until now, when he decided to open this modern European small plates concept. It is simply named Venue by Sebastian, a fitting one (read on to know why) that Ng says was conjured together with his business partner and Chef de Cuisine Jonathan Lee, formerly from Artichoke.
The vibe: Unlike Ember, this establishment is in every way a casual diner—from the disposable ordering chit more often seen at dim sum restaurants to the communal tables and bar stool seats. You will see a steady stream of ex-Ember regulars coming to Venue with their own bottles of red or whites in tow. Ng often greets them personally. It’s not hard to get chummy with Ng either, as he is a genuine and affable man.
The food: It may be a casual eatery, but Ng carries over his fine dining sensibilities when it comes to the food. Take for instance the Cauliflower Fritti served with Spicy Mint Aioli ($10)—we can’t imagine a better batter for the dish. It manages to keep the cauliflower soft inside while maintaining such a satisfying crunch on the outside. The Iberico Pork Jowl ($18) too, is a well thought out dish. It is an acquired taste that may be divisive among customers for its crunchy marbling, but Ng doesn’t waver at whims that it doesn’t suit the local palate, and has daringly included it in his menu. We personally loved the pork for the same reason why we love fine marbling in wagyu.
The dish that stands head and shoulders above the many others however, is the Cold Pasta ($22) with konbu and truffle oil. The angel hair pasta dish is so simple yet carries a complexity only possible with the most deft of kitchen hands. Not only is the pasta boiled to the perfect firmness (no easy feat considering it is angel hair), but the amount of konbu and truffle oil used has resulted in just the right amount of umami and fragrance.
There are many other things to try on the menu, including the satisfying Chilean Seabass ($36), pricey-but-worth-it Lamb Riblets ($5 a stick) and the addictive Crispy Homemade Tofu with Foie Gras-mirin Sauce ($14), whose accompanying ice lettuce (not to be confused with iceberg lettuce) tastes unlike any other vegetable you might have eaten before. Be sure to leave space for desserts. Returning from the old Ember menu is Ng’s signature Apple “Pie” ($14) and the Pear Tart ($14) with a churro-like bite to its pastry.
The drinks: Drinks are accompaniments to the food here. There are enough bottled beers, ciders, teas, juices and a substantial wine list to slake your thirst. Just don’t expect a spirit-forward cocktail lineup or a stock of craft brews on the menu.
Why you’ll be back: We can’t praise the cold pasta dish (only available during dinners) enough and it is a must-have each time you are at Venue, despite the item’s steep price for a morsel. Besides that, the small plates menu is extensive and it is worth heading back, not just to try new items that Ng regularly dishes out, but also because the restaurant is such a casual, inviting place for easy dinners with the gang.
|Address:||Venue by Sebastian, #01-02 Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way, Singapore, 068815 Singapore|
|Area:||Central, Tanjong Pagar|
|Price Range:||$$ - $$$|
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 11:30am-3pm, 6:30-10pm|
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