Sunday, November 24, 2019

Artichoke @ Middle Road - The Least Authentic Middle Eastern Restaurant


Nine years and still standing tall is Artichoke in the heart of Singapore's Arts and Heritage district. The restaurant in Middle Road is helmed by chef-owner Bjorn Chen, offering Middle Eastern inspired cuisine, which is the least authentic Middle Eastern restaurant. The funky take of the cuisine draws inspiration from Middle Eastern flavours and ingredients while injecting the element of fun and creativity into the dish.


Our dinner commences with a couple of small plates. We have the Turkish Eggplant ($12). Hummus & Iraqi Spiced Mushrooms ($14), Sea Asparagus ($12) and Beetroot Borani ($12). My favourite is the Hummus & Iraqi Spiced Mushroom. There is something different about the hummus here. On top of the nutty chickpeas, we got to know from chef Bjorn, he added miso to brighten the flavours, elevating the taste profile.

Sea Asparagus 3/5

The Sea Asparagus is a new item on the menu. Usually, the ingredient is used as a garnish in Singapore, but it is served as a dish here, just like the way it is eaten in Middle East. As the sea asparagus is grown in salt mash near the seas, it is naturally briny in taste. Hence I would recommend having it together with the labneh and crispy fried buckwheat to tone down the saltiness.

Crab Toast 4.5/5

The crowd favourite has to be the Crab Toast ($16). On top of the fresh house-baked brioche is blue swimmer crab mixed with Greek yoghurt, mayonnaise, chopped chives, chopped and degorged cucumber. This is complemented by the deep-fried chicken skin and ikura topping. It is the sort of dish that you just need to pick it up with your fingers and pop it into the mouth to get that explosion of flavours.

Falafel Salad 4/5

Same same but still different is the Falafel Salad ($20). Cooked and chopped vegetables are added to the chickpea blend for a fluffier texture to go along with the butter lettuce dressed in fruity sumac dressing. It is further served with mint, pomegranate, dill, tomato and onion slices.

Housemade Hashbrown 4.5/5

The Housemade Hashbrown ($14) topped with sour cream, and fresh za'atar (wild thyme in Middle East) is probably the best hashbrown I ever have eaten. It uses Russet potatoes that have been steamed, grated and seasoned with cornflour and salt. It is then baked at low temperature at 150 degrees Celsius for an hour, giving it a soft interior complemented by the crispy exterior.

Cuttlefish Shawarma 4.2/5

Green Harissa Prawns 4/5

From the seafood section of the menu, we tried the Cuttlefish Shawarma ($25) and Green Harissa Prawns ($38). The cuttlefish is grilled over the mangal grill, suspended naked over the flame for even heating. It is dressed in a delicious special dressing of chicken fat, lime and soya sauce. As for the Green Harissa Prawns, I find it similar to Thai green curry with huge crunchy prawn.

Charcoal-Grilled Duck "Shish Taouk" 4.5/5

For the meats, we have the Charcoal-Grilled Duck "Shish Taouk" ($30) and the Steak of The Day. I love the Charcoal-Grilled Duck "Shish Taouk" which has been marinated in yoghurt, onion juice and spices for a minimum of two days and cooked on charcoal grill with olive oil and lemon. The duck breast cubes are tender, juicy, flavoursome and in a way addictive. I can't stop going back for me.

Steak of the Day 4.2/5

The Steak of The Day is the Australian Black Angus Rump Cap seasoned with salt and grilled over woodfire to medium-rare. It is a prized cut commonly used in South America, especially in Brazil but not in Singapore. Being not a lover for A5 wagyu, I prefer my beef to have that textural bite. Hence the beautifully cooked rump cap is the right cut for me for that satisfying bite.

Malabi 4/5

Moving to dessert, we started off with the Malabi ($16). Underneath the pile of passionate granita is a silky smooth avocado pudding. In fact, this is their third version, garnished with Thai basil leaves and meringue pieces for an Asian feel to it.

Baklava Cheesecake 4/5

The Baklava Cheesecake ($22) is soft and fluffy. It has all the original elements of baklava retained in a cheesecake form,

Date Pudding 5/5

You definitely have to leave some space for the Artichoke's Date Pudding ($16). The plate comes with a date pudding drenched in a pool of smoked mil. It is finished off with coffee jelly, cashew praline, cashew nut brittle, cracked sea salt and cocoa powder. Though messy looking, this is the best date pudding I have eaten. Definitely a mush order here.

Chicken Urfa Kebab 4.2/5

Besides checking out the new dinner menu, we also tried some items from the weekend brunch. One of their popular weekend brunch items is the Chicken Urfa Kebab ($28). The minced chicken thigh is grilled to a delightful tender texture, packed with beautiful aromatics. The cabbage salad tossed in tahini and amba, orange, mint and a dollop of garlic sauce brighten up the whole enjoyment.

Crispy Lamb Floss 3/5

The Crispy Lamb Floss ($28) comes topped with a sunny side-up and hummus on the side. Using lamb shoulder, it is braised, shredded and cooked to crispy. The hummus has also been thinned down.

Cauliflower Kushari 3/5

The Cauliflower Kishari ($24) consists of deep-fried cauliflower, rocket leaves, onions, lentils, mint, puffed corn and fragrant basmati rice. It is then tossed in shallot oil, and seasoned with salt and amba. For brunch, it even comes with a marinated Japanese ramen egg.

I have always known Artichoke as a brunch place, and it never occurred to me that it is a Middle Eastern restaurant, serving delicious but yet not so authentic Middle Eastern cuisine. After nine years and it is still around, it speaks a lot of their food, isn't it?

Note: This is an invited tasting.

161 Middle Road
Singapore 188978
Tel: +65 63366949
Nearest MRT: Bugis (DT Line, EW Line), Bencoolen (DT Line, EW Line)

Opening Hours:
Hang Time: 4pm - 6pm
Dinner: 6pm - 945pm
Brunch 1130am - 245pm
(Closed on Mon)

1) Alight at Bencoolen MRT station. Take Exit E. Walk down Waterloo Street. Walk to destination. Journey time about 5 minutes. [Map]

2) Alight at Bugis MRT station. Take Exit C. Walk to junction of Victoria Street and Middle Road. Turn right onto Middle Road.  Walk to junction of Middle Road and Waterloo Street. Cross the road. Walk to destination. Journey time about 8 minutes. [Map]

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