SPRMRKT at STPI: Bringing Out The Best Of Each Ingredient
SPRMRKT at STPI has been a mainstay of the Robertson Quay area for some time now. Supporting art gallery STPI with a space to eat, drink and relax after indulging in a little arts and culture, SPRMRKT has grown from strength to strength with each passing year. Most recently, they’ve been delving into collaborations with regional chefs or chefs from around the region based in Singapore, such as a Vietnamese collaboration in 2018, and a Cambodian one this year (with the Philippines being the next country up on the list), incorporating these Southeast Asian flavours and ingredients into familiar Western cuisine for a different spin.
This month, SPRMRT at STPI has launched a new menu, with several new items that only further this dedication to regional showcase. With the refurbishment, the second floor has a new touch of class as it continues to overlook the river, yet, remains quintessentially casual. Coupled with the big sharing platters they now offer, and SPRMRKT at STPI becomes all about that casual dinner out with family or mates, dining on simple but scrumptious cuisine that delights the palate while encouraging hearty conversation.
At a recent tasting we had at the restaurant, we opened our meal with a glass of their ‘Rojak’ Gin and Tonic, utilising locally distilled gin from Rachelle the Rabbit, and adding a slice of calamansi and ginger flower petal for that local twist. Also on the drinks menu, for the health-conscious, is a Golden Spiced Nut Smoothie, made from pili nuts, cinnamon, ginger, lemon and of course, turmeric, to give it that rich golden colour; and the Bark & Blue – black tea infused with cinnamon and blueberries.
We started off with a familiar item from SPRMRKT’s menu – the SPRMRKT Brussels Sprouts, essentially, a grilled salad with burnt corn, pomegranate and sriracha mayo. There’s good reason why this is a dish that has remained on the menu for so long – despite our misgivings and the bad rep that Brussels sprouts have gained in popular media, SPRMRKT has made this mix of greens aromatic, flavourful and a great palate opener.
Next up for appetizers, we were served their Corn Fritters with in-house made Cuka, an Indonesian style spicy vinaigrette. This felt like a quintessentially local dish, comforting to take a bite out of, and the otherwise plain, doughy fritters were well complemented by the cuka.
With the SPRMRKT Florentine, breakfast can be eaten all day, every day. Deviating from the usual eggs Florentine one might find at cafes, SPRMRKT’s version replaces the bread with housemade quinoa cakes, an inspired take as they made for a much lighter complement to the poached eggs and heavy hollandaise sauce. With wilted spinach sandwiched between, the quinoa cakes weren’t too soggy when we ate them, and certainly, tasted like a very healthy type of ‘breakfast’.
SPRMRKT’s Smoked Tomato Soup, also a mainstay on the menu, was well-done and well-sieved. One could still taste small chunks of tomato in the soup and appreciated its thickness, and along with the dollop of basil pesto and mozzarella in it, made for a fantastic soup we’d love to order again the next time.
Moving on to the rice and pasta dishes, SPRMRKT’s Aburi Salmon and Ibis Rice is a rather safe and healthy option for any Asian palate. A spoonful of this dish is all you need to understand that quality ingredients go into it, from the salmon to the avocado to the egg, while for Cambodian-grown brown rice used, one could taste and appreciate every individual grain used. Garnish with their citrus-wasabi dressing, and you get a real kick out of each mouthful, in this very hip take on the usual grain bowl.
SPRMRKT offers up two versions of their pasta – the Pesto flavoured one, and the Spicy Prawn Marinara flavoured one. In both dishes, the pasta was magnificently cooked to al dente perfectly. One appreciated the strong, fresh aroma of the housemade basil pesto used in the Pesto pasta, with delicious garlic butter that helped make for a very fulfilling dish.
But when it comes down to it, we fell in love with the Spicy Prawn Marinara pasta. Served with some very tasty hae bee hiam (we finished the extra serving of it to sprinkle on the pasta), the prawn used were season well and provided a punch along with the spicy sambal belachan mixed with tomato sauce used. In all, both pasta provided their own unique sensorial experiences and had their own taste profiles, both winners in our eyes.
The two newest items on the menu then, would be the Whole Roasted Boneless fish ($49), and the Whole Roasted Free Range Chicken ($52). For our fish, we were served Barramundi for our tasting – fresh, locally caught fish that was conveniently deboned for the diners. This small detail goes a long way to improving the dining experience, and families need not worry about having to help children or older folks debone their slices of fish when eating together, making this ideal for a get together. In addition, the fish was served with SPRMRKT’s very own purple potato croquettes, certainly unique as opposed to the usual Russet or baby potatoes, and well-enjoyed by the whole table, judging by how quickly they disappeared from the plate.
The chicken on the other hand, was beautifully presented, and hearing about how it was delicately prepared step by step certainly made us appreciate its price point. The chicken is first brined, then soaked in aromatics before being sous vide cooked and oven-baked. What results is a bird whose meat remains wonderfully moist (even the breast meat!), nicely deboned and divided for diners, and served with basil pesto and succulent jus from the chicken itself. Certainly, the service rendered to make it so easy to eat makes it all worth it, and one can just focus on the conversation you’ll no doubt be having with your company.
We ended off the meal on a sweet notes with dessert, trying their lychee and black forest chiffon cakes, along with a selection of their pound cakes.
The chiffon cakes in particular were a highlight of the selection. Light, fluffy and not too sweet, it was evident that plenty of whipping had gone into the batter to make it so soft, packed with light cream. The lychee one in particular is certain to make anyone feel immediately happy upon seeing it in all its pink glory, and its flavour naturally comes through in each bite.
With this meal we were left impressed by the honesty and sincerity with the way each dish was prepared, ensuring the integrity to bringing out the best of each ingredient used was sustained throughout the meal. There is a lot of respect from the chefs that goes into creating this menu, and we appreciated the attention to detail and combination of flavours. For SPRMRKT, food is all about keeping it real, bringing comfort in every bite, and certainly, setting the atmosphere for a wonderful meal out as a group, full of hearty conversation.
For more information about SPRMRKT, visit their Facebook here