Located among Minden Cluster of the old British barracks in Tanglin Hill was a gem of a place called Open Farm Community. What they sell was “from farm to table”. Except for the some vegetables and spices, nothing else was from their on-site farm.
It is made up of the Dempsey Cluster, Minden Cluster and Loewen Cluster. Dempsey and Loewen were where the old Central Manpower Base (CMPB) was before they moved to Depot Road. During my army days in Depot Road, I heard some many stories of fond memories of this place.
Minden Cluster was made up of old officers’ housing, social clubs and chapels along Minden and Harding roads. Gone are the days of afternoon balls and lively music, of wine and roses, of a colonial time. These days, Tanglin Hill is home to many fancy restaurants, hipster cafes and interesting shops.
I am surprised how much liberty the authorities have allowed OFC to repurpose the old Dempsey barracks with full glass walls to let in as much light as possible. Only the shape of the old barrack was left.
Citrus Cured Mackerel, aguachile, pomelo, ginger blossom, garden basil – Aguachile is a Mexican dish made of shrimp, submerged in liquid seasoned with chili peppers, lime juice, salt, cilantro, and slices of onion. Fresh vegetables such as cucumber are usually added. Here, the shrimp is changed to mackerel, the cilantro replaced with basil grown in the garden, and the cucumber replaced with pomelo. This is a very light dish, perfect to start the evening, and even better for a really hot summer night.
Thai Asparagus Salad, homemade cashew ricotta, dried kale chips, lime vinagrette, brown butter emulsion – The feature was the edible flowers that were used to garnish the salad. The blanched asparagus was spiced with lime vinaigrette and smothered with a nice layer of brown butter. The oven-baked kale provided the crunch and the ricotta gave it the savoury, toasty dimension.
OFC Flatbread, chai poh, crushed fingerling potatoes and arugula – I loved this starter, it’s like roti prata wrapped with Chinese preserved radish (chai poh) and mashed potato. Loved the overall taste profile, reminded me of a good hearty breakfast. Arugula not important.
General Tao’s Toad, crispy jurong frog legs, white sesame, green onion and jicama – Jicama is also known as Mexican yam or Chinese turnip or locally known as Mangkuang. They can be eaten raw and would be sweet and crunchy, or stewed and it would borrow the flavour of the stew. This dish is a play of General Tso’s Chicken, which is like sweet and spicy Hunan chicken. Instead they used frog legs from edible bullfrog from the frog farm in Jurong. We loved this so much that we ordered two more portions.
Prawn Pappardelle, soft shell prawn tempura, laksa reduction, chilli scallion oil, kaffir lime leaf – Pappardelle are large, very broad, flat pasta noodles, similar to wide fettuccine. It is ideal to swoop up all the sauce in this pasta dish. The local twist was the laksa reduction, which is a thickened sauce of laksa soup, that was used as the pasta sauce.
Braised Canadian Pork Belly, homemade kimchi, baby bok choy, lemongrass glaze, crispy shallot and micro mustard – Not sure that the mantra of “farm to table” was strictly followed here. Did not try this dish.
Steamed Tiberias Barramundi, dashi butter, snap peas and shoots, garden manioc, pulut hitam and seaweed furikake – Furikake is a popular shake-on rice seasoning in Japan and is a blend of chilli flakes, black and white sesame seeds and seaweed flakes. Manioc is tapioca and is the fastest growing tuber during WWII and eaten as a staple during the hard times. Pulut hitam is black glutinous rice. So what happens when all these complex ingredients were combined in a single dish? Nothing spectacular.
Pure Black Grass Fed Tasman Beef Porterhouse for Two, green peppercorn jus, house pickles, potato and salad sides – Tasman beef is not from Tasmania but sourced from Victoria. Grass fed beef is known to be a tougher beef type but very flavourful. This was a really good steak, and the piece de resistance of the evening. The smashed fingerling potatoes with parmesan and a mesclun salad were perfect companions to a well executed porterhouse. And you get the best of both worlds – a sirloin and a tenderloin – and there was enough beef for all.
The service was prompt and attentive. They were able to feed a large crowd, and this place would be perfect for company gatherings and family get-togethers. The price was a bit steep for a bistro/cafe like restaurant but the quality made up for it.
Would visit again.
Open Farm Community
130E Minden Road
Tel : +65 6471 0306
Date Visited : Jul 2018