I just had a meal at “Twelve Stories”, I meant Artichoke in Middle Road. For nine years, Artichoke had stood its ground here against a melange of prim and proper restaurants, many which had already gone down memory lane. It is an eclectic eatery before I even learned the meaning of the word.
Having been a frequent visitor to the Middle East, I do feel that I could benchmark Bjørn’s school of cuisine to the real McCoy. The Turkish Bread ($4.50) is made with the utmost respect and would certainly win plaudits from Sultan Mehmed VI to Erdogan, as I remembered it to be. This is, if not the best Turkish bread in Singapore. The HUMMUS & IRAQI SPICED MUSHROOMS ($10) was also some of the best contemporary version I have had, ranked alongside Bedu in Hong Kong and Merkavá in Mexico City.
I would strongly suggest getting both the BEETROOT BORANI, 3-NUT DUKKA, DILL ($12) and the SEA ASPARAGUS, PICKLED GARLIC, LABNEH, BUCKWHEAT ($12), especially the sea asparagus which was unlike anything I have had before I had to google and later bookmarked its existence. Also known as seabeans, they are delicious on their own but adding a bit of yoghurt raises its divinity instantly.
Depending on how you like your drinks, you could either choose the lighter PANDAN GIMLET ($16) a gin based pandan concoction with lime or at the other end of the spectrum, the heavier SON OF A PEACH ($18) made with Singleton 12yr Whisky, Black Tea, Peach, and Dry Vermouth. I love both drinks though I thought SON (with Bjørn’s face) was the one with the wackier profiles.
If you want a ice breaker, definitely get the CRAB TOAST, CHICKEN CRACKLING, SALMON CAVIAR ($16/2 pc). The caveat though: it is like ordering champagne, nice to have but can do without.
The BLACK ANGUS CHUCK RIB, LEBANESE STEW ($38) was tender and flavourful but having my previous experiences blown away by seafood at Bedu, I dived directly into the CUTTLEFISH SHAWARMA, CHICKEN FAT DRESSING, LIME ($25) and buried my head into the GREEN HARISSA PRAWNS, SPLIT CREAM, CHARRED ONIONS ($38).
The cuttlefish was succulent and one thing I missed about Middle Eastern food is the ubiquitous use of spice, though sometimes they can be over-empowering. The citric acid here makes the eating a lot more enjoyable. Using chicken oil was also a brilliant touch and lent a glistening glow to the slightly charred cuttlefish.
Bedu’s sumac garlic prawns, which I was so hooked previously, was the reason why I went gaga over Bjørn’s green harissa prawns. Similar in profile, sumac and harissa are both spices though the latter is only unique to Tunisia. The harissa prawns were succulent on its own, while the split cream provided familiar umami comfort, enough to lift me up on to Cloud 9. Be sure to order another portion of Turkish Bread to mop up those crustacean sauce.
If sharing or dinner is not your thing, Artichoke recommended the new CAULIFLOWER KUSHARI ($24) and CRISPY LAMB FLOSS ($28) which are only available from 11.30am during weekend brunch hours.
The Artichoke MALABI ($16) was possibly the most unusual I have had. In Israel this is just a simple milk pudding with almond and rose syrup you eat the mom and pop shop down the newspaper stand. However there was however none of those ingredients here. Put simply, it was an avocado pudding with passionfruit granita, meringue and basil. The ensemble was unconventional yet every bit refreshing and fulfilling.
The DATE PUDDING, SMOKED MILK, CASHEW CARAMEL, COFFEE JELLY ($16) meanwhile was a deconstructed version with the toffee in the pudding taken out and replaced by a jelly version. So taste-profile wise, it resembled a sticky date pudding but textural wise it was something else.
The piece de resistance for me was the BAKLAVA CHEESECAKE ($22). Baklava to me was simply baklava, so to have it make it into a filo pastry warm & moist cheesecake with pistachio, orange blossom honey, and cream brought me a pleasant surprise.
After my meal, I was so inspired by the rebellious streak I have experienced I went back to rewatch classics of Eric Khoo.
This article is written by Ramenking2018, who has a great passion in food hunting and traveling. Follow him on instagram if you are into nothing but good food.
161 Middle Road Singapore 188978
Tel: +65 6336 6949
Operating Hours: Tues- Sun
Hang Time 1600 – 1800
Dinner 1800 – 2145
Brunch 1130 – 1445