Cure’s new menu, Nua, is an honest piece of personal history and adulation for Ireland that has us fully convinced we’d need to take a trip there soon.
Apart from Irish pub food, there’s not much diners here know about the cuisine born from the second largest island of the British Isles. It’s why chef-owner Andrew Walsh has took it upon himself to shout about flavours he’s grown up with in his new tasting menu, Nua (meaning ‘new’ in Gaelic).
Now five years on, Walsh has gutsily distilled Cure’s modern European genre to one that draws from his heritage. And it’s those dishes derived from his memories that particularly resonate, giving us glimpses of his formative years in Ireland and invoking emotions of nostalgia and longing.
The Potato Crisp Sandwich, served on a print of a bag of chips, is a decidedly more refined version from his childhood days of eating potato chips in between slices of bread. A peculiar choice of snack but it explains the Irish’s love for the tuber (they’re the highest per capita consumers of potatoes) and is nevertheless plenty of fun to revisit.
Tied to his recollection of burning peat in the fireplace during winter is Childhood Memories of Peat, charcoal poori sitting in swirls of peat smoke in an antique book. It’s a dish that’s as much an experience for the olfactory senses as it is for the palate.
Then there’s his reimagining of porridge; an oozy, melt-in-your-mouth spoonful of grains cooked till soft with Irish Cashel Blue Cheese, sous-vide organic yolk, and thin slices of dry aged beef tenderloin from John Stone.
Nua is also reflective of the new wave of chefs and producers from the island who are leading a revival of the cuisine, as Walsh will gladly wax lyrical on. No longer just about rashers and salted butter, contemporary Irish cuisine incorporates lots of fresh seafood and handmade cheeses such as the Tipperary Brie that’s given its own course on the menu.
Shellfish is the seafood of choice for Nua, starting with a tart of Irish Brown Crab that lets the white flesh’s natural sweetness speak for itself on a bed of sour cream with a sprinkle of dehydrated crab head (the best part of the crab if you ask us). The first thing that gets us, however, are the waves of dehydrated seaweed under the crab shell that waft an unmistakable ocean brininess.
It’s followed by the Gallagher Speciale Oyster that’s grilled on binchōtan, brushed with smoked beef fat and dressed with miso beurre blanc, a touch of dill oil, sea asparagus and Avruga roe. The flamboyantly displayed Irish Blue Mussels surrounded by a wreath of shells comes in a hearty chowder of cider mussel stock. Like the oyster, it has a creamy element that is evocative of the cold and wet nights on the Emerald Isle.
The last of the mains is reserved for the famed Silverhill Farm Duck, a hybrid breed dubbed “The Mother of All Duck” from a 58-year-old family estate in Ireland. Known for its fat and clean tasting meat, the ducks are commonly used in Chinese restaurants within Asia as well.
Here, he ages the bird for five days then cooks it on binchōtan. With it, he makes a broth with Teeling whiskey that’s poured over perfectly done slices of duck breast, a duck fat takoyaki with a dipping espuma of duck fat, salted egg, juniper berries and thyme.
As we sip on warm Jameson cream and munch on our oat cookie, Walsh’s equivalent of cookies and cream to end the night, we’re still thinking of that lightly crisped fatty Silverhill duck skin. He’s definitely got us intrigued on what Ireland has to offer so much so that once borders open, we’ll be making plans to pay a visit to the country he feels so fondly for.
Cure is located at 21 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089128. Tel: +65 6221 2189. Opening hours are from 6pm to 10pm on Monday to Saturday, and 12pm to 2pm on Wednesday to Saturday.