The Place North Canal Road is charming in so many ways. It is at the crossroads between the CBD hubbub, the Chinatown quaintness, and the overwhelming hipster vibe that is the restaurant and cafe community. Breathing in the laidback chill of clean and modern cosiness at Punch is a restful experience unlike any.
If you are a morning bird, traipse down the back alley to enter the coffee bar which opens from 8am daily, serving straight up caffeine shots guaranteed to give you that extra punch for the morning madness (heh). The high walls of concrete coloured with greenery gives the much-needed quiet for your daily wake-up routine.
In the evening, enter the open-kitchen concept dining space where warm service and comfort food await you. I was the first to reach for our dinner – as always – and had a chat and walkabout the restaurant, soaking in the moment of quiet amidst the external evening rush. Ah, space.
On our way in, Rantee mentioned how he loves the unassuming decor, which is timeless and classy, yet warm and cosy. Also, the open kitchen concept is superbly planned, because we can see entirely what is happening in the kitchen but there is no smell. Unbelievable.
The Food Sharing food has always been a pet favourite of mine, so in characteristic panda fashion, we opted for communal dining. Black Mussels with White Wine, Chilli & Garlic, served with Toasted Sourdough ($18) was a great opening to our meal – think well-flavoured mussels in musty, sharply spicy gravy, and homemade sourdough to clean up the bowl. Generous greens adorn this dish, making it a good balance of freshness from the sea. The sourdough is made by Burnt Ends’ Katrina and Kurt, and super yummy. Give me a loaf of that with freshly churned butter any day. Yumyum in my tumtum. Just too bad about the gravy, too good but too little.
Fried chicken with Tomato & Roasted Capsicum Relish, Blue Cheese Dip, served with Pickles ($24) has always been a childhood favourite of mine, and remains to me the pinnacle of comfort food. I wasn’t actually very keen at first to order this at a restaurant…seemed extravagant to me, somehow. #peasant. I know. But we did. And I ate my words literally, savouring every mouthful of the crusty flavourful skin and the succulent chewy goodness. The capsicum delish was timeless delectability. The blue cheese dip was surprisingly well-paired with the chicken, too. Mr K had come along for this meal, and repeatedly gushed about the pickled vegetables. I ain’t a fan. But he said it’s good. “Not too sour,” with extreme enthusiasm…Go figure. Just shut up and give me my chicken.
Beer Battered White Dory with Hand-Cut Chips ($22) This one is last warning kind of good. The handcut fries are out of this world – I ate both the first and last piece. Also, you may choose greens instead of chips, but no socially well-adjusted person would do that. No diet, no fear. The dory fillets are crusty and crispy outside, flaky and soft inside. Paired with the homemade tartare sauce……. Full disclosure: I actually complained to the Punch team that this dish’s serving is too small. No shame, only great going greedy game. Omnomnom, nomnom.
Rump Steak with Bernaise & Watercress ($28) Dat ass, tho. I’ve never tried rump steak before, and I am no meat aficionado either. But this was legit. Rantee, Ranter and Mr K all said this is an unusual cut of meat for steak, but the tender lean slices went exceptionally well with the watercress and sea salt flakes. We all liked it. There was quite a bit of side-eye action going on when the paiseh piece was left.
Tiramisu made with Single Origin Genovese Coffee ($12) “It’s not in a jar!!” Rantee exclaimed with overriding joy once this dish was placed infront of us. “…huh?” the rest of us went. Before we roundly ignored him and digged into this block of sweetness. The infused alcohol was just the right amount, and the caffeine gave just the right… wait for it…wait for it…punch. Cue orchestra music. And me emerging triumphant in finishing the last mouthful.
Lemon & Basil Sorbet ($10) I will fight to the death for this. While served in a well-crafted ridged bowl – the plating was all across perfect – there was simply. Not. Enough. For. Us. And can you imagine a frail lady fighting three grown men over a dish? That’s how much we like this. The palate-cleansing refreshing sorbet with the tangy herbiness is mad good. And yes I wrestled my way in to finish the last of this. We took all of 20 seconds for this dessert. Legit.
Rants I find the serving portions for some of the dishes too small and for others too big, and our dinner came to cost a bit more than I expected.
Will I Return Again? I am a huge fan of sincere service and heartfelt food, and in many ways Punch is en pointe in giving customers a restful dinner place to share times with good friends. The team behind Punch also runs Ronin, which isn’t a big deal, just my favourite cafe in Singapore. To fried chicken, dory fillet, handcut fries, and lemon & basil sorbet, I say a resounding yes. With cutlery at the ready.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
32 North Canal Road
Tuesday to Friday:
Brew Bar: 8am to 6pm
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm
Dinner: 6pm to 11pm
Saturday and Sunday:
Brunch: 8am to 6pm
Closed on Mondays
Ranted by Ranbee