The Place It has been nine years but I’m surprised by myself that I only made it to Artichoke recently. The middle eastern inspired restaurant near Bugis is run by chef–owner Bjorn Shen, who has a whole list of accolades under his belt. The vibe of Artichoke is eclectic and being tucked away from the main road, there is a certain sense of mysterious vibe surrounding the restaurant; or I should say, akin to a secret garden.
The Food While middle eastern ingredients are the inspiration for the dishes here, the restaurant does not shy away from proclaiming that the food is anything but authentic middle eastern cuisine. The meal started with a variety of mezze, also known as appetisers in middle eastern cuisine context. I like the Crab Toast (S$16) for a start, a new dish on the menu where the crab is mixed with Greek yogurt and topped with fried chicken skin and ikura.
Another refreshing starter is the Sea Asparagus (S$12), served with labneh and crispy fried buckwheat.
Hummus is not my favourite kind of thing, but I love the Hummus & House-Cured Duck Basturma (S$14) here. The slightly spicy flavour from the duck breast is a welcoming note for me, which I feel makes this hummus dish a localised version with the punchy flavour profile.
For seafood, I highly recommend the Green Harissa Prawns (S$38), which is slightly spicy from the green sambal. The grilled prawns are very flavourful and delicious, where you can also dip some Turkish Bread (S$4.50) into. This dish has been one of the old favourites on the menu for a long time.
The Cuttlefish Shawarma (S$25) is something new on the menu inspired from Israeli cuisine. The grilled sashimi grade cuttlefish is marinated in the slightly spicy shawarma blend, served on a bed of chicken fat dressing sauce. The overall flavour of the fresh squid is robust.
From the weekend brunch menu, my favourite dish is the Cauliflower Kushari (S$24), as I love fried cauliflower, as unhealthy as that sounds. This version is paired with a rather unique Egyptian rice, smoked egg and puffed corn, and is delicious when all the ingredients are tossed together.
The Chicken Urfa Kebab (S$28) is a mix of cabbage, salad and mango, where the kebab is made from minced chicken thigh. I am not the biggest fan of kebab but this version surprised me in a good way.
The dish which took me by surprise is the Crispy Lamb Floss (S$28). This new dish uses lamb shoulder, which is cooked till crispy and the flavour is not gamy at all. It is served with runny hummus, sunny side up egg and Turkish toast.
For desserts, I don’t have a very sweet tooth but the options here should satisfy if you are a sweets person. The Date Pudding (S$16) is a crowd’s favourite where smoked milk is poured over the pudding, accompanied by coffee jelly and cashew caramel.
New on the menu are the Malabi (S$16), a combination of passionfruit ice, avocado pudding, basil and meringue; and the Baklava Cheesecake (S$22) with rhubarb, pistachio and honey.
Rants I was under the impression that Artichoke is a Middle Eastern restaurant, only to find out that it is anything but a conventional Middle Eastern establishment. Not a huge rant per se, but do come with an open mind instead of a preconceived idea of Middle Eastern dishes.
Will I Return Again? Artichoke is a restaurant with a strong character and I am surprised that I actually enjoy the dishes here. It’s better late than never for me.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 4/5
Hole in the pocket: 3.5/5
Overall Experience: 4/5
161 Middle Road
Tel: +65 6336 6949
Tuesday to Sunday:
Hang Time: 4pm to 6pm
Dinner: 6pm to 9:45pm
Weekends Brunch: 11:30am to 2:45pm
Closed on Monday
Ranted by The Ranter