SINGAPORE — Nothing could have prepared me for dinner at RVLT, a natural gastro wine bar complex where the bottled spirits are simply processed and where people go to enjoy all the good things in life. It’s riotous, buzzy, and, even on a weekday night, filling up with diners who are ready to joie de vivre all up in this house.
It’s also assuring for me to know that, here, the whole hoity-toitty wine-food-dessert pairing dance is reduced to a simple but effective ‘eat what you want with whatever drink your heart desires’. It’s such a refreshing gastronomy programme that, in many restaurants elsewhere, is curated to the point of reverence. “You want that red with your seabass? How dare you! Do you know where you are?”
Calm down restaurateurs. Yes, I understand you take pride in your food. Yes, I am aware that you think the tannins of a certain wine pair incredibly well with the delicate flavours of this wagyu, but honey, gatekeeping food is so not sexy in 2021. Gatekeeping anything is not sexy, period. Let people eat what they want with whatever drink they like. There’s no need to feel too, you know, tilted.
This is why RVLT endears to me so greatly. They even serve wine in cups, mostly out of practicality—a tight space like RVLT’s is hardly ideal for precariously balancing thin-stemmed wine glasses. All this casualness is so refreshing, especially when the food here is anything but. I would go as far as to say that this is fine dining in a bar setting with nary a hint of irony.
Commandeering this culinary ship Chef Sunny Leong of Corner House fame means beautifully plated food that looks, feels, and so poetically out of place in a wine bar such as this. His culinary artistry is in everything he touches—even the snacks, which varies in price and availability depending on when you come.
The night I went, I got the Nori Taco with uni butternut squash, and a squeeze of lime zest, followed by a Fried Mochi Dumpling served with an intensely savoury eringi and Joselito ham topped with fine strands of black truffle frost. A pillow of Madras Curry in a deep golden hue with shavings of salaciously salty Comte cheese on top rounds up the trio and is enough to almost make me gasp in surprise.
But I didn’t because if I did, I’d have nothing left to breathe as plate after plate took my breath away. A plate of Hamachi Ceviche (S$26++) come casually dressed in a fermented pineapple vinaigrette, sprinkled with green tropical fruits. Yes. It’s all fruits in a hue of green—green apple, guava, green mango. It’s all very citrusy though I wished it had more acidity to pack a punch.
A bowl of Agnolotti (S$32++) (a type of folded pasta) comes stuffed with a filling of an incredibly flavourful smoked parsnip that makes my eyes roll to the back of its sockets. This sat in a laudable reduction of Parmigiano and served with Shanghai Green stems for a touch of bitterness—just a tad. Everything is just so savoury and texturally superior.
Elsewhere, there’s a Shio Koji-cured Westholme Wagyu (S$46++/150g) served with a sensuous and sexy Black garlic puree that should get you into the mood rather quickly, I reckon. I also had a go at a brave plate of Cabbage that, unfortunately, needed a more substantial hit of seasoning. I understand the parts that make the whole, but more attention needs to be paid to the details, like the char that could be fiercer or the leaves that could be softer. The green sauce is a touch too sour and could be better balanced with perhaps something more savoury. It’s a good effort nonetheless.
Dinner ends with a round of Jackfruit Bavarois (S$20++) served with an almond dacquoise, compote, and piped dark chocolate. It’s a beautifully complex dessert that’s so easy on the palate with all the sweetness in delicate amounts so as not to overwhelm. That jackfruit bavarois, though, is the clear hero of this number, amply supported by the dark and earthy chocolate ganache.
The night of my visit, I noticed the restaurant getting dimmer as the night wore on. The darker it went, the more convivial the atmosphere—at least within the acceptable boundaries of conviviality as dictated by COVID-19 laws, of course. Inside, the walls are adorned with a handful of large prints, all bold, irreverent and slightly anti-establishment. RVLT is a bar, but in the same breath, it’s not either. It confuses me, but I love it. There’s a sign above the kitchen that says, “Making Singapore drink again since 2017”. That much is true, evidently. But with this new ala carte menu, they might need a longer banner to include the word ‘eat’ into this mantra. Bravo, RVLT. Bravo.
38 Carpenter Street, S059917
Mon to Fri: 4pm – 10.30pm
Sat: 1pm – 10.30pm