Having a friend with gluten intolerance, I witness how difficult it can be, to enjoy a decent meal when dining out. Not only are options limited, but several essential ingredients (eg sauces) has to be omitted from the dish, which definitely made it, well, not yummy AT ALL. When it comes to dessert, it’s usually more dismal. No cakes! To err on the side of safety, he’ll either stick to fresh fruit, or have nothing at all. Likewise, lactose intolerant people, also have many dietary restrictions, especially when it involves sweet treats.
Open Door Policy fills the gap in Singapore’s gourmet scene with a brand new gluten- and dairy- free menu. Yes, you read it right, an ENTIRE menu, safe for people with gluten and dairy sensitivities. Chef Ryan Clift, who has food allergies himself, passionately developed the menu over a span of 6 months. In order not to sacrifice taste and texture, Chef Ryan works with alternative food sources, substitute ingredients, as well as fermentation and pickling techniques.
So glad we tried this lovely Celery & Almond Soup ($24) with succulent scallops and cauliflower as accompaniments. The soup is made using pure almond milk, extracted in-house over a period of 12 hours. Dip the nicely blistered gluten-free pita bread into the nutty soup and savour the flavours! Do note that pictured here is a smaller portion for the tasting session. The usual serving is larger.
In the Endive Gratin ($22), Belgian endives are lightly grilled with fresh coriander, then finished with mornay sauce which does not contain any milk, butter, flour or cheese. In replacement, neutralized yeast and a combination of stabilizers blended in nut milk are used to mimic cheese flavours. The starter was completed with premium cooked ham accentuated with tangy sherry vinegar, and slices of red apple. Personally, the endives did not resonate with my taste buds as I was not fond of the bitter astringency that lingered.
The Quinoa Salad ($20) is refreshing starter, apt for Singapore’s perennial hot and humid weather. The healthy grains were complemented with a variety of fermented root vegetables with different textures (some soft, some crunchy), garlic soil and finished with garden herbs. To bring out the flavors of the veges, Chef Ryan submerge them in nuka and for a week.
Chef’s Ryan’s favorite, Vegan Maccheroni Pasta ($24), is a cross between Mac & Cheese and Bolognese. Al dente pasta is topped with Portobello Bolognese gratin prepared from a reduction of mushroom, to mimic meat. It’s finished with a béchamel that uses inactive yeast and nutmeg to mimic the classic mornay sauce. The pasta has some spicy notes, rendered by the wild mustard, that heightens the overall taste profile.
The King Crab Orechiette ($29) features homemade pasta that is doused in a saffron and corn sauce, then crowned with chucks of succulent crab. If you like savory pastas, this may not be for you, as it leans toward the sweet side. There is certainly not a doubt though, that the sauce had the same texture as gooey, melty cheese! Amazing!
For something more substantial, there’s Pan Seared Crispy Quail ($34) and Braised Veal Ossobuco ($32). The bird is sous vide, then pan seared in its own juices. The result? Beautifully tender flesh that contrasts with crisps skin. The quail is presented on a bed of appetizing pickled turnips and chickpea casserole. The veal, braised till fork-tender, was paired with a luscious carrot risotto. Parmesan and butter are 2 important components of a good risotto, but Chef Ryan uses vegetable puree and I’ve gotta say, it worked fantastically well. The dish was completed with smoked paparika and watercress that is grown in-house. Both dishes were excellent and no remnants were left untouched!
Desserts (all $16)
Dates & Walnut Cheesecake was light on the palate but weighs heavily on the minds with its enticing combination of dates and walnut base and crunchy red apples. We were told the best way to enjoy it is to have some cheesecake and fresh fruit at the same time.
Get whisked off to chocolate lala land with Why Sunday?, a sweet treat made with soy and palm sugar gelato. It also comprises of many delectable toppings that I love. Peanut Brittle ✓,honeycomb ✓, chocolate brownie ✓, chocolate custard✓ and chocolate snap✓. A solid chocolate dessert indeed!
If you prefer a mild conclusion to the meal, there’s Light Almond Milk Custard, where desirously wobble and silky panna cotta enthralls the tongue. The delicate flavor of the almond milk panna cotta is complemented with poached strawberries, tangy strawberry sorbet and shattered chocolate tuille.
Open Door Policy’s new menu received many nods of approval. Because Chef Ryan got the flavors and textures spot on, we could not even tell that the dishes were gluten and dairy free. Even if you don’t have any food allergies, you are bound to enjoy the wholesome and sustainable fare here. The ambiance is great too, suitable for dates and social gatherings.
Many thanks to Bless Inc Asia for the invite and Open Door Policy for the warm hospitality.