Dehesa – Complete nose-to-tail dining by Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno
An “offally” good, gastronomic adventure for some; an alternative dining experience for others. Whatever the case, the opening of new and unpretentious 50-seater restaurant Dehesa sparks a new outlook for Singapore’s ever-evolving food scene.
For serious and curious foodies, and perhaps those seeking something different from the mainstream food offerings, Dehesa (which in Spanish means “grasslands” – home of the Iberico pig) is an escape from the ordinary, with its commitment to whole animal usage (alternative cuts, offal and not forgetting the well-loved classic cuts) to create distinctive, made-from-scratch and robustly flavoured delicacies.
The restaurant itself is laidback and welcoming in its air, a place where diners can not only expect complete nose to tail eating, but an original and personalised experience. At the helm of this innovative, long-awaited venture is Chef-Owner Jean-Philippe Patruno (affectionately known as JP), whom highly skilled and proficient in the culinary art of preparing and cooking alternative cuts, is set to unleash a unique repertoire of food and service that is at once unexpected and welcome with unadulterated glee.
The restaurant now welcomes diners for lunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm from Mondays to Fridays featuring some of chef’s bestsellers, alternative delicacies, wet rice and sandwiches served with homemade salty chips. Items that are exclusively served for lunch and not featured on the dinner menu include the pulled pork sandwich; sardine, poached egg and pancetta sandwich; pequillo peppers and aioli sandwich; seafood or chicken and chorizo rice; beef onglet with bone marrow; and pork belly with coco beans.
Chef JP’s upbringing in France by his Italian father and Spanish mother is the foundation of his culinary talent. From his humble beginnings 29 years ago as a kitchen apprentice, much of his career was spent in London over 22 years where the city’s famous food scene thrived with innovation and glorious variety. During the two decades, he trained under legendary three-Michelin-starred Nico Ladenis. However,
it was his tenure at highly acclaimed Quo Vadis under the tutelage of undisputed “Kings of Soho” Sam and Eddie Hart that his love for alternative cuts and offal flourished. It is from here that chef’s inspiration for Dehesa is definitively drawn.
The sumptuous menu waves goodbye to convention, with Dehesa’s signature platter of cold meats ($25) featuring delights such as pig’s head, scratchings and fifi pate, as well as milk- fed lamb sweetbreads and Iberico jowl set to be certified favourites. “At Dehesa, there is no half-way in the food we offer. Our rebellious nature against food of the norm will keep diners addicted and coming back for more. If we choose to cook a particular meat, whether a pig, cow, lamb or fish, we use the whole animal to honour this ingredient.” JP proclaims and adds: “This is an opportunity to show what real food is all about. At Dehesa, what you see is what you get – no hidden gimmicks, no tricks, just skill and pure passion for food and cooking. It’s as simple as that!”
Duck hearts on toast is a popular favourite at this new restaurant. Pan-fried in a wine reduction to create the flavouful sauce, the duck hearts is cooked till perfect with bursts of flavours. There’s frit mallorquin too, a classic Majorcan dish that features morsels of lamb liver, kidney, heart, and lungs, all served alongside silky potato purée.
While the restaurant does beckon one and all to come dine with the alternative cuts, diners can also savour a range of JP’s classic dishes, including suckling pig membrillo, salt-crusted sea bream and octopus lardo ratte. I know chef for his signature paella at UNA, so I was little disappointed to know that they don’t do it here. However, their Seafood Rice ($22) will make you happy. Using short grain Cebolla rice, it has the ability to absorb flavors and remain firm. Filled with prawns, mussels, and clams sourced from Pulau Ubin, every grain of rice was infused with the umami-rich flavour from the sea.
Served with homemade salty chips, the Pulled Pork Sandwich ($18) features delicate shredded pork sandwiched in fluffy soft bun that is homemade as well.
For those with a sweet tooth, chef also adds a surprisingly delicious flavour combination of Caramel Flan ($5) with smoked pancetta for a winning dessert to keep the day going. The slightly bitter caramel compliments sweetness of the custard wonderfully, boosted with the intriguing flavor of smoked bacon, making this a dessert that will have you coming back for seconds!
Nose-to-tail dining is not new but Dehesa’s offerings are a great way to introduce the world of animal innards to the uninitiated. The dishes here are simple yet well executed. For those wanting to stretch their lunch into a leisurely afternoon affair, pair your meal with a good wine from Dehesa’s delectable wine list.
Address: 12 North Canal Road, Singapore 048825
Tel: +65 6221 7790
Opening hours: Monday to Friday 11.30AM to 2.30PM; and Monday to Saturday dinner from 5.30PM till late.