Do you like oozing chocolate? And have you dined in an angmoh restaurant in the past two to three decades? Chances are, you’ve probably eaten a molten chocolate cake (more commonly called a lava cake in Singapore). You know, that ubiquitous café/restaurant dessert staple that has stubbornly remained on menus since it was considered fashionable back in the ’90s. Some food snobs think it is passé. Cookbook author and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman jokingly coined it “The Big Mac of desserts”. Snigger all you want, but its longevity just goes to show that many people still love this cake with its semi-liquid heart. And it is widely believed that the man who created this simple yet sexy dessert is New York-based French chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten (say “John George Von Ger Rich Turn”). The story goes that while baking one day in the late ’80s, he prematurely pulled a petite chocolate cake out of the oven, revealing its still unbaked gooey core instead of a crumbly one when he sliced it. And thus, sweet history was made.
And now, Jean-Georges, a celebrity chef in New York with over 30 restaurants worldwide (most of them in the States), is opening his first restaurant in Singapore: The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar at Como Dempsey. The restaurant that’s set up in collaboration with the Como group opens this Friday, March 3. It offers a smart-casual version of the chef’s modern French cuisine inflected with Asian flourishes. Fun (not alternative) fact: Donald Trump dined at the swanky three Michelin star Jean-Georges restaurant within Trump International Hotel in New York with Mitt Romney soon after he was elected President. Another interesting bit of trivia: Jean-Georges once worked at Meridien Hotel in Singapore back in 1983 before he became a star chef. He has also cooked for bigwigs at the F1 Paddock Club here.
His restaurant in Singapore shares the same breezily chic space as eateries Candlenut and Ippoh Tempura Bar within lifestyle enclave Como Dempsey. It features an open kitchen and 160 seats, including a bar serving modern Asian cocktails.
What to eat? The chef's signature dishes, like the Egg Caviar ($35), warm scrambled eggs and cold cream with a luxurious dollop of caviar, served in an eggshell. There’s also the decadent Black Truffle and Fontina Cheese Pizza ($20). And, of course, what’s a Jean-Georges restaurant without his Molten Bittersweet Chocolate Cake ($15), served with vanilla ice cream? Tip: the man has just landed in Singapore and will be in town for the next ten days to oversee the kitchen, so you know what to do.
Blk 17D Dempsey Rd, S249676. Tel: 1800-304-5588. Open 6pm – 9.30pm; till 10.30pm Fri & Sat. Bar open 5pm – midnight daily. Last orders at closing. www.comodempsey.sg/the-dempsey-cookhouse-and-bar
Photos: Francesco Tonelli