The Place When we mention Tiong Bahru, the hawker centre or throngs of cafes may cross our minds first, without realising that Open Door Policy has already been opened here since 2011. Helmed by Ryan Clift of Tippling Club, Open Door Policy (ODP) has recently introduced a brand new dining concept – a pure 100% gluten-free and dairy-free menu and space. The first thing which caught our attention as we stepped into the new space is the indoor garden which lined up the walls. The rows of fresh watercress and vegetables are harvested daily by ODP’s chefs for salads and cooked dishes. You will also get a nice natural lighting towards the back of the restaurant in the day, which we think has an overall chill-lax and fun vibe.
The Food It is easy for us to dismiss gluten-free and dairy-free food as bland and flavourless as compared to using normal ingredients, which ODP is set to challenge this notion. We tried a good mix of dishes from starters to mains to desserts, and the one consistent trait we found in all the dishes is that there is no compromise on flavours as much as possible.
We started with the refreshing Endive gratin (S$22) with premium cooked ham, red apples, veal jus. The lightly grilled endive is finished with mornay sauce that does not contain any milk, butter, flour or cheese. Instead, neutralized yeast and different stabilisers blended in a nut milk are used to mimic the cheesy flavours.
The Quinoa salad (S$20) comes with fermented root vegetables such as carrot, turnip and golden and purple beets, and paired with garlic soil, garden herbs. It doesn’t look filling but this is one bowl of delicious salad I don’t mind having everyday.
On mains, the exciting dishes for us are definitely the pastas (which reminded us of the ones from Open Farm Community), our favourite being the Vegan maccheroni pasta (S$24). I wouldn’t be able to tell that this is a vegan pasta dish, all thanks to the Portobello Bolognese gratin which was filled with much umami. We learnt that it took about six months to get the final taste of the Portobello Bolognese flavour right to mimic the taste of meat, including the use of béchamel sauce here which uses inactive yeast and nutmeg to mimic the classic mornay sauce. You must try this dish here.
The King crab orecchiette (S$29) is another lovely dish. Served with a thick saffron and corn sauce, the pasta is topped off with sugar snap peas and fresh basil. The sweetness of the crab is complimented by the earthy pea flavours to give this dish a well-balance flavour.
It is not all about vegan and pasta dishes here. There are also more meaty options like the Pan seared crispy quail (S$34) with turnips and chickpeas casserole, banana shallot, and the Braised veal ossobuco (S$32) served with carrot risotto, smoked paprika and watercress.
We were curious how the desserts will turn out with a strict gluten-free and dairy-free theme at ODP but we were eventually convinced by the flavours of those we tried. Our favourite is the Why Sundae? (SS16), a soy and palm sugar gelato served with peanut butter brittle and honeycomb It is served with gluten- and dairy-free chocolate brownie and chocolate custard, topped off with a chocolate snap and wild flowers from the in-house garden. The overall blend of ingredients here were brilliant.
Other dessert options include the Dates & walnut cheesecake with red apple (S$16) and the Light almond milk custard (S$16) with poached strawberries and sorbet, chocolate tuille.
Rants Be warned that you can’t bring any outside drinks or food into the restaurant. They are dead serious about its 100% gluten-free and dairy-free concept.
Will I Return Again? There is a lack of good restaurants in the Tiong Bahru enclave, and we are glad that Open Door Policy has chosen to set foot here. Gluten-free and dairy-free restaurants are even harder to come by, and we were relatively impressed with the rich flavours of the dishes we tried. The endearing edible garden space further adds that green touch to the overall dining experience.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Make your reservation instantly at Open Door Policy here.
Monday to Sunday (Closed on Tuesday)
Lunch: 12pm to 3pm (last order 2:30pm)
Dinner: 6pm to 11pm (last order 10:30pm)
Brunch: 11am to 4pm (Saturday and Sunday only)
Friday and Saturday: Bar opens till 12 midnight
Ranted by The Ranter