The pandemic has taken much away from the F&B industry, but some plucky establishments have managed to gain something from this sorry situation. For award-winning bar Nutmeg & Clove, it was a different address and a spanking new kitchen.
Now after almost a year of experimenting with its new restaurant identity, Nutmeg & Clove is launching The Experiential Dinner Series, starting with two one-night-only pairing dinners in collaboration with The Glenfiddich. The first, “The Distillery Dinner Experience”, is happening on 23 November 2021, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a more harmonious whisky pairing experience this season — even if chef Lucas Ding’s idea of adding a Singaporean twist to traditional Scottish dishes does sound faintly ludicrous. Fortunately, it works.
After a tall, bracing welcome drink in the form of a Glenfiddich 12 YO highball, the experience begins with Prawn & Fish Crackers with Spiced Cheese Dip. Instead of chips and Cheez Whiz, you get prawn and fish keropok. Ding had them brought in from Kelantan for their saltier style, a strategy almost certainly devised to have diners reaching frequently for the paired Teh Halia cocktail (Glenfiddich 12 YO, ginger, chamomile tea cordial, London Essence Soda). The cheese dip, for all its fun, spicy kick, can be ignored for its overpowering flavour and glue-like consistency.
The rest of the menu is where it gets really interesting. Spanish Mackerel (better known as batang around these parts) is battered and dunked into a creamy, sweet-sour-spicy Assam Cream Stew, inspired by cullen skink, a traditional Scottish fish chowder. Think assam pedas but thickened with coconut milk. The stew’s delicate sweetness is a fine match for the The Glenfiddich’s best-selling expression, the 12 YO, often praised for its pear and apple notes, and short and sharp lifts of vanilla.
The 15 YO’s spicy nose and noticeable bite gets tempered by the luscious fat from Singaporean Scotch Eggs. Inspired by Chinese minced pork dishes, the meat that encases the eggs (which all have yolks of perfect jamminess) is seasoned with ginger, scallions and five spice for a surprising hit of nostalgia. The Spatchcocked Organic Spring Chicken with potatoes, grilled vegetable salad and couscous is serviceable, but its accompanying cocktail, the Hay Longan!, is a triumphant combo of whisky, smoked hay, longan, clarified milk and red wine.
The dinner concludes with the Poached Pear Tartlet and Nutmeg & Clove Ice Cream — a slight misnomer since the latter comes from neighbouring Tom’s Palette. Not that it matters, because the combination of toasted coconut ice cream and poached pears is gut-wrenchingly glorious. Add to that the powerfully oaky 18 YO and you have a dessert that proves how pairing whisky with sweets is not only possible, but encouraged.
Those who want to sample more of Nutmeg & Clove’s true strength — mixology — will enjoy “The Modern Glenfiddich Experience”. Taking place on 7 December 2021, the six courses by guest chef Singaporean Tryson Quek (of bar and restaurant Mu: in Taiwan) will be paired with five cocktails and two drams of whisky.
8 Purvis Street, Singapore 188587. Tel: 9389 9301