Graze at Martin No. 38
At the second Graze restaurant, Graze at Martin No. 38, Chris Donnellan had helm of the kitchen. Yenn Wong‘s Epicure set the stakes high by continual reference to his award as The Age Good Food Guide’s Young Chef of the Year 2009 in their publicity.
Hecker Guthrie, an interior design firm from Melbourne, set out to give the place a neighbourhood (said neighbourhood being Robertson Quay not Toa Payoh) vibe, making use of the high ceiling and spacious interior of the former godown (warehouse) for ceiling-to-floor windows for light, and for playing with long parallel lines – white chairs with black tables, chair display walls, a row of bright blue SMEGs, a line of wooden boards drying, and a lengthy counter (which unfortunately, was cluttered with empty wine bottles and assorted stuff one of the times we visited).
But interior decoration could only do so much for the concept, with the front of house and food/drink having to hold their own. While service from the two who seemed to be the manager and supervisor was competent and thoughtful, the rest of the staff either stared blankly at us while we were trying to attract their attention (or contemplatively at an uncleared table) or kept interrupting conversations to ask if we had any orders (this happened so many times during the course of one night, even after we pointed out to her each time that we were talking, that we left in frustration and had dessert elsewhere).
Fortunately, the food was exciting (if you ordered the signature dishes):
brunch: the “signature cast iron pan two free-range organic eggs – poached with roast potatoes, bacon, sausage, baked beans, roast tomatoes, mushrooms” was not a signature dish of Chef Chris but a hold-over from Graze at Rochester Park. At S$25, it was expensive for a normal fry-up and the nice bread had to be ordered separately.
at dinner, the fresh seafood really stood-out, and the pairing of sumac, cumin and pomegranate in some dishes – quite brillant:
In an enclave, past the communal table with its towering flowers, was the Provisions store stocked with gourmet bottles, tins, cans and boxes.
The sweets (in the British sense) displayed on the counter were also for consumption within the restaurant. Coffee beans from Graffeo.