[dropcap size=small]L[/dropcap]unch at Rishi Naleendra’s one-Michelin-star modern Australian joint is a boisterous affair. On workdays, the 40-seater fills up by half-past noon with primarily white collars indigenous to the Telok Ayer area, and the conversant crowd does not abate till well past 2pm.

It gets a little lively in the cosy space, but the fare is always worth the squeeze.

And for good reason: Indulging in Cheek by Jowl’s inventive fare is to hop on a seesaw of comfort and adventure. Familiar textures and aromas go hand- in-hand with unconventional sauces and accompaniments, satiating the two minds of curious gourmands and making the prospect of return visits alluring. Take the fork-tender arctic char couched in buttermilk – standard issue freshwater fish executed deliciously. The spanner in the works is the dressing of fermented pear juice – a titillating and refreshing alternative to citrus, tweaked to the right intensity, and a defining foil that gives the pliant flesh a memorable edge.

Artful plating is a feature of every dish. Here, millet is dressed meticulously with zucchini flower, mung beans and sunflower seed.

That same dynamism extends to the booze offerings. You’ll get the usual Margaret Rivers and Saint-Emilions, and while the list is only inch-deep, it’s got representation that’s remarkable for such a small outfit, from South African Shiraz to Italian amarone. Adventurous, too, are the smatterings of organic and biodynamic wine.

(RELATED: Here’s what a day in Naleendra’s life looks like.)

It would be remiss to not mention the immense value of the sets. For under $100, two can have a quick two-course lunch. Want a protracted rendezvous with a bit of quiet at the tail end? Take the five-course for less than $150 (for two, after taxes). Never mind the serviceable seating or bistro-league proximity– Naleendra is plating up some high-quality nosh, and passing on only his fastidious ethic to his diners.

21 Boon Tat Street, S(069620)
T 6221-1911

The full list of Singapore’s Best at
G Restaurant Awards 2018.

All tastings conducted incognito with esteemed members of G’s Food Panel.