Taking over the former premises of SPRMRKT (itself having moved to Cluny Court sometime back last year) along McCallum Street is Telok Ayer Arts Club, which had been opened since a while ago.
Still run by the same people behind SPRMRKT, Telok Ayer Arts Club is the brand’s newest venture which is being set-up with the community spirit in mind. Inspired by the community centres of the past, Telok Ayer Arts Club exterior is reminiscent of that to the buildings of the past; the red-bricked wall evokes a sense of nostalgia, which is also similarly found in the interior of the establishment. Moving into the shop, the left side of the space is being occupied by the bar counter which displays a wide variety of alcohol; most of which offered in their beverages menu. The dining area is split into two sections; one being situated opposite the bar counter which comprises of bench seating by the walls, while the inner dining hall is separated from the bar area with stage curtains and is slightly dimmer lit in comparison, filled with two-seaters and four-seaters. Telok Ayer Arts Club was set up to be more than a dining destination; having setup with the community in mind, the space does host music and art performances periodically, being a multi-use establishment that showcases arts in many forms. Having visited Telok Ayer Arts Club on a Saturday afternoon, Telok Ayer Arts Club was serving up an ala-carte food menu that is available all day. Apart from the ala-carte food menu, Telok Ayer Arts Club also carries a weekday set lunch menu featuring two-course and three-course set lunches aimed at the office folks of the Central Business District; a pretty affordable option for a casual bistro. Telok Ayer Arts Club also serves specials on their menu periodically, with a snack item and a cocktail being tailor-made to the artist and exhibition that is running during the period.
(Natto Glazed Char Siew)
Going for an item off the “Snack” section of the menu, we went for the Natto Glazed Char Siew, which comprises elements such as “Pork Jowl. Mirin, Sake, Gochujang, Honey” as described on the menu. Essentially being more of the Japanese variant of Char Siew than the local/Hong Kong variant, the Char Siew was no doubt a good balance of fatty and lean meat, whilst carrying a slight savoury-sweetness to it. The pork jowl was tender, and carried no evident hint of gaminess with just enough bite, while the Natto Glaze was not particularly; perhaps intentionally done so to accommodate to most whom may not find Natto to be their thing. The slight sweetness and slightly spicy kick of the gochujang helped to ante the flavours up for the Char Siew a little, making it an item that we just kept going for until it was gone in no time.
(Arts Club Roti John)
Picking an item off the Mains menu, we went for the Arts Club Roti John; possibly the only main that is locally-inspired here. The Arts Club Roti John comes with elements such as local baguette, cumin & paprika minced chicken, mushrooms, provolone, egg, mayo and chilli sauce. Being a Roti John with their own twist, the Arts Club Roti John still carries the spirit of the dish that it was inspired from; a light, fluffy roll that is topped off a crisp omelette lined with oozy cheese in between, whilst topped off with minced chicken, mayonnaise and chilli sauce. It is noted that the flavours of the spices used in the minced chicken were not particularly strong, but the Arts Club Roti John still remained largely flavourful considering how it carried a slight sweetness from the bread, a bit of egginess whilst being jam-packed with flavour from the chilli sauce and mayonnaise like how it should have been if it was the usual Roti John. No doubt a little pricey, but an item that sticks close enough to the original; something rather unavoidable considering the sort of establishment that it is being served in.
(Smoked Salmon Rosti)
It does sound strange that the Smoked Salmon Rosti is being classified under the “Grains and Salad Bowls” section of the menu, but the Smoked Salmon Rosti is a probably a safe bet for those who are looking for a convention brunch dish without going all out adventurous on items such as the Arts Club Roti John. The dish features smoked salmon, dill creme fraiche, avocado, mesclun salad, sun-dried tomato, and cucumber. A safe item done well, the Rosti was not greasy; crisp, yet carrying a good bite; paired well with the creme fraiche to help to neutralise the flavours overall, while the smoked salmon provided a savoury note typical to that of cured items. The addition of avocado made the dish more hearty, being smooth, creamy, and buttery, while the side salad provided a refreshing crunch in between bites of the rosti. A pretty decent item for those who are looking for something comforting and hearty at Telok Ayer Arts Club.
(Cerana Honey Cake)
To end off the meal, we went for the Cerana Honey Cake which features Cerana Wild Flower Honey, Caramel Cream and Lemon. It is interesting to note that the honey used in the Cerana Honey Cake is being sourced from a local company which farms bees in Thailand; the honey being obtained from various flowers during the year. The Cerana Wild Flower Honey is one that is available all year round; the cake itself being reasonably dense like loaf cake, whilst being layered with pastry cream and honey. The honey carries a distinct sweetness; a rather bright, citrusy note that was pretty refreshing and cut through the flavours of the cake well to provide a good contrast of flavours overall. Pretty impressed with how the cake turned out to be, and definitely an eye-opener to see how local F&B establishments work together with other local firms to showcase niche products to the average diner.
Overall, our visit to Telok Ayer Arts Club was pretty decent. No doubt the prices are a little steep, but the food was generally of reasonable quality with service that was also pretty fine. That being said, we did find that the mains were probably a little less memorable than the other items; not that they were not good, but perhaps just not too impressionable considering how they were safer than being all-out innovative and eye-catching. That being said, Telok Ayer Arts Club is a decent place to check out; the set lunch deal is no doubt attractive, considering its pretty affordable price at S$18++ for a two-course set lunch, or S$22++ for a three-course set lunch, a decent and quiet spot if one is willing to splurge on a weekday afternoon. Otherwise, it does remain as a decent spot to consider on the weekend, especially for those who would enjoy a spot away from the crowds great for a slow catch-up with a small group of friends.
Telok Ayer Arts Club
2 McCallum Street