I’d heard of Fordham & Grand when it first opened 2.5 years ago just a few blocks from where I used to live in Everton Park. Pictures of its mouth-watering french toast were splattered over the 50 Things to Eat Before You Die list. It’s been on my food to-try list for way too long, but then again there are over 100 things on that list!
I got a pleasant surprise when my boyfriend entered the competition from Makan on BiTES and actually won! Thank you BITES for treating us to this delightful meal. We even got our own place card and there were a variety of adorable pig-themed sketch coasters. The editor, June, was there to share with us: BiTES is a food tabloid focussing on low-moderate price dining options in Singapore (it is a branch-off of the epicure Food Magazine, which covers high-end fine dining). I’ve been a regular reader since they started in July 2014 and saw their magazine in a cafe; nowadays I just look up the PDF online. They write about foods across the spectrum from hawker stalls to more atas locales like Fordham & Grand, and my favourite section is their monthly calendar where you can keep updated about upcoming foodie events. By the way I wasn’t sponsored by BiTES to write this!
I was really impressed with the food here, which the chef describes as Modern European with some Asian ingredients. We had the pleasure of having one of the founders, Singaporean Timothy Lim, and the head chef, Kean Hun, to introduce the restaurant and food to us. They really seemed to exude passion in serving good food and creating a good ambience. Timothy worked in Tetsuya’s in Sydney and came to Singapore to be part of the opening team for Waku Ghin. Thereafter, he wanted to fill a gap in the local dining scene where there wasn’t decent food late at night, and so came the birth of this bistro-bar that would serve food until 2am.
The sleek interior of the restaurant was inspired by bars in America during the prohibition era – a period from 1920 to 1933 when the sale of alcoholic beverages was prohibited in the US by a constitutional amendment. The restaurant’s design is like a speakeasy, an establishment that illegally sells alcoholic beverages during the prohibition era. You’ll find numerous reviews that use these two terms without explaining (and me being the US history noob had to google it up!). This is why the door is so hard to find, with a tiny sign at the side revealing this secret little alcove. I like the secluded nature of this; it felt like I wasn’t really in Craig Road at all, like I was in another land. The name itself is inspired by an intersection in NY by the same name of Fordham Road and Grand Central, a cultural and vibrant hub. This defining feature could also be their tragic flaw: I feel the place needs more exposure because it has really decent food but is a hidden gem. In a way I do like it being kept a secret though, the intimate atmosphere is part of the experience.
The dinner menu runs from 5pm-10.30pm. We started off with the freshly shucked oyster + mignonette on a bed of sea salt ($32/half a dozen); seasoned with mignonette (condiment with cracked black pepper, minced shallots and red vinegar). The sourness of the red vinegar was a lovely contrast to the fresh clean taste of the oyster. I was really craving oyster that day (I saw so many buffet vouchers on Groupon and was tempted to get it..!) so it really hit the spot. RX commented that the sweet and sour plum juice (the one served at Sufood) would go well with oyster too.
Every dish I tried here was splendid, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be the ingenious Jerusalem Artichoke Soup + Truffle Scented Froth ($12). It’s a wonderfully smooth and creamy blend of the sweet earthiness of the artichoke topped with a umami truffly foam and crunchy artichoke chips and chives. Although the chips were a tad too salty, mixed with the entirety of the soup it was just heaven in a cup. Two thumbs up; and the whole table agreed as well.
They’re very generous with the portions and the chef towards the end asked whether it’s too much: in my opinion it’s just right, as I usually wouldn’t order so many courses, and even then I was about 85% full by the end of it all, not yet bursting!
Our main course was the Grilled Tiger Prawn Linguine + Ginger + Chilli + Coriander + Olive Oil + Parsley in a Crustacean Stock ($36 – I can’t find it on the online menu, but I believe it may be the same flavour as their signature Lobster Linguine but replaced with prawns for the event). It was an orgasmic bomb of flavours with the richness of the ginger and crustacean stock which infused the entire pasta. The pasta was done al-dente (although a white lady there commented it wasn’t quite al-dente enough; I reckon it’s hard for the chef to strike a balance between catering for a clientele ranging from Western to Asian tastes who would want different things) – the chef explained to us that the reason for al-dente other than the characteristic bite, is also so that it will better allow the sauce to absorb into the pasta since it’s not bloated with water. It’s also lower GI if it’s less cooked through; although honestly if I’m eating out then health may not be the number one priority! Some might say the pasta’s drenched in too much olive oil, but I kind of like it that way; it’s like aglio olio but packed with a rich seafood and punchy gingery taste that reminded me of the ginger oil my grandma used (see post below). The grilled prawn was fresh and toothsome, with a light, sweet and savoury marinade that paired well with the crustacean sauce.
We ended on a sweet note with the famous dessert that I wanted to try for so long: French toast: with Homemade brioche + Rum Sabayon + Ice cream ($14). Every component on its own was absolutely divine, but put together it felt a tad too heavy on the palate. Perhaps a small sour component would bring this to the next level. Regardless, it’s sumptuous: quenelle of good-quality ice cream with vanilla seeds, sitting on a bed of chocolate sand (which tasted like crushed milk chocolate-coated rice puffs and hazelnuts), with a dark rum sabayon (Italian creamy custard, save for any overly-eggy-taste), with a subtle hint of rum (the inner ‘alcoholic’ in me kind of craved for more but it was good for those like RX who are averse to EtOH). It was finished off with a beautiful blowtorch brûlée that added complexity to the taste, and of course the star: beautifully buttery brioche baked in-house with an almost pudding-like texture and caramlised with a thin burnt sugar encasing. The chef explained it’s tricky to make this dish partly because the temperatures really need to be ideal to make sure the french toast is sufficiently hot yet won’t melt the cold sabayon: a feat performed well with the with a nice hot-cold juxtaposition. I think I’ve found Singapore’s best french toast.
The chef came out a few times to talk to us and get some feedback, always a good sign. He said that everything is thought of meticulously, not only in terms of the cooking, but also the timing of the courses (spaced out enough to let the food settle and be ready for the next course), and portioning (enough to leave us satisfied, but not exploding).
All in all, a great place to have a drink, enjoy good food, in an intimate surrounding, into the wee hours at night. It’s certainly not cheap, but it’s quality you’re paying for, and I would happily visit again to try out some of the other dishes.
Prices stated are not inclusive of GST and service charge
Fordham & Grand
43 Craig Road, Cantonment, Singapore 089681
Phone: 6221 3088
Hours: 5pm-3am daily
Closest MRT: Outram Park
Website: https://www.facebook.com/FordhamGrand / http://fng.com.sg