Some places, like people, have so much potential. They mean well, all the tick marks are there, yet the actual experience of knowing them falls short. One such place in the densely packed food-city of Singapore is Open Farm Community. With the farm-to-table concept taking the world by storm, any place that focuses on produce has my interest piqued. Which is why we decided to stop by Dempsey for lunch one sunny afternoon this weekend.
Open Farm Community (OFC) sprawls over a large area, as far as city restaurants go. Most of it is dedicated to the mini farm, where they grow lime and other produce. However, the intention is there but a walk through the greens seems like a stroll through my overgrown backyard. I have seen the extent this concept can be executed, a stark example being the Grounds of Alexandra in Sydney. Oh the joy of spending an afternoon there! There is no restaurant prettier than the garden-feel of this unique factory-converted-space. But unlike Grounds of Alexandra, OFC just doesn't manage to go the whole hog when it comes to the exteriors. The interiors however, are stunning. Bright and cheerful, the dining space is like a greenhouse with tall ceilings and floor to ceiling windows.
The menu here is very limited, with a few options for starters, a few pastas, a handful of mains and a couple of dishes for kids (categorized as Little Diners). The kids menu is priced similar to the regular dishes, defeating its purpose altogether. We tried the Grouper Burger ($30) which came in a black bun. The fish patty was thick and well seasoned, contrasting with the sour pickled cucumber. The accompanying fries (with a few sweet potato fries thrown in) were wonderfully crisp.
From the brunch menu, we also tried the 63 degree egg ($31) served with toasted sourdough, baked beans and chilli beef rib eye. This was a hearty breakfast dish, the baked beans completely soaking through the sourdough though.
I would have left disappointed but wisdom prevailed and we ordered dessert. Thank god for small mercies. The stunning platter had a carefully placed chocolate mousse, cherry jam, soaked chocolate fudge brownie bits, salted candied walnuts and a delightfully tart dark cherry sorbet ($18). The interplay of textures, temperatures and flavours made this one exceptional dish. If only the kitchen had shown this kind of sophistication in the savoury dishes too.
Open Farm Community has potential but does not compel the diner to return. It is like the child who you know can score top marks but he just couldn't be bothered. Go there for a cheery catch up over coffee and dessert, the bright space deserves a visit for sure. But with so many other options in Dempsey and nearby, I don't think I would waste a meal here again.