A new venture by folks at the Spa Esprit group, who is behind some of the most amazing eateries like Forty Hands, Tiong Bahru Bakery and Skinny Pizza, I was extremely excited learning about this collaboration with famed Argentinean chef Diego Jacquet. Needless to say it topped my to-brunch list and I went ahead to make reservations. But then I met the biggest problem ever: I couldn’t pronounce boCHINche.
Bochinche (noun) Gossip.
Indeed. A semi-open-kitchen concept where diners can sit around the cooking stations, it allows for light conversations between chefs and diners, casual conversations among diners; and of course a little gossip never hurt no one.
boCHINche’s layout allows for diners to take a peek into what actually goes into their plate: the cooking, preparations, and plating. It’s amazing cause it’s times like that where you can see the amount of effort put into preparing your dish, and that makes the meal much more intimate. It’s also really cool and a lotta fun to see chefs at work.
Provoleta, Almonds & Honey (S$17); eaten with Pan & Manteca (S$7)
We were told that the Provoleta is supposed to be eaten together with the Pan & Manteca. The melted honey and almonds added a floral and tangy edge to the otherwise boring grilled cheese fare; the deliciously fluffy focaccia and cheese breads kept the dish light and were perfect to soak up the pan juices. A wonderful balance of savoury and sweet. This was in fact my favourite dish of the day. An awfully high benchmark to start the meal with!
boCHINche Beef “Chimichurri” Burger v2.0 (S$28)
Soft grilled buns with tomato, caramelised onions, pancetta, (more) provolone cheese and topped with a fried egg, with a side of pickled cucumbers. This burger wasn’t bad at all. I loved how the different condiments complemented each other, resulting in a complex array of flavours. Taking a bite and slowly chewing on it, I could taste every component of the burger. Which isn’t something I get from every other burger. A pity the most important component – the patty – was overcooked.
House Chorizo sausage, braised Ox Cheeks & caramelized onions (S$20)
This, however, was an utter disappointment. It’s perfectly acceptable for a dish to be so-so-, not outstanding but at least pleasant and edible. Yet this was wrong on every count. The ox cheeks were braised so well they were soft and buttery, yet utterly tasteless. The caramelized onions were too sweet and too much. Together with the drizzled reduce balsamic, the dish became overwhelmingly sweet.
Milk cake, Passionfruit Sorbet & roasted Almonds (S$14)
Not wanting to end our meal on such a nasty note we decided on getting desserts. The Milk Cake sounded really interesting cause I’ve never heard of a milk-flavoured cake. What this turned out to be was a delectably moist cake, further sweetened with a sauce made of 3 kinds of milk (heavy cream, dulce de leche, and something else). It would be too sweet if not for the tart and sour sorbet. Eaten together, this is a refreshing and really unique dessert.
“Dulce de leche” Creme Brulee & Banana Split Ice Cream (S$17)
I was excited to eat this when I saw the chefs bringing out the flame torch and burning the sugar right in front of me. I thought, this surely must result in a cold-hot contrast a creme brulee should have? And I was not disappointed. Cold straight out from the fridge, the torching made the crisp surface slightly warm in contrast. Finally a creme brulee that has that distinction! The only downside was the ice cream. There wasn’t anything banana splitty about it.
As a first visit there were equal numbers of ups and downs; yet given the interesting menu and the impeccable service, I think there’s still more to bonCHINche than today. With dishes like Organic Poached Eggs on toast, Braised Ossobuco and Chive Hollandaise on the menu, I’ll definitely be back for more.
22 Martin Road
Brunch: Weekends from 11am-3.30pm
Dinner: Daily from 5.30pm-10.30pm