It was about time that I popped by Artichoke again. It’s the rainy season, and the last I remembered, I left my umbrella at the restaurant. That was last November. I’ve gotten drenched more times than I care to remember since then.
No, I’m only joking. I missed the place, and going Food Geek-y chatting with Bjorn. I have been meaning to drop by for brunch before heading off to the cows in Switzerland for my summer study. Perhaps then I’ll finally get round to putting up recipes again. Who knows?
The last time I was at Artichoke for dinner, Bjorn brought out an unassuming slice of toast with a dollop of his homemade labneh (yoghurt and double cream) and drippy chunks of peach jam – one of the new products of his tinkerings in the kitchen. It was sensational, and I all but declared that such a beauty should only be savoured with a cup of strong, bitter coffee. You know, the perfect pairing for a brunch dish and that whole jazz.
Crunchy toast and sweet, syrupy jam to mellow out the tangy bite of the labneh. This was an unnamed, mysterious concoction that surprisingly worked. This is comfort food.
And then this was introduced proper to the brunch menu under an equally unassuming name of Cheese & Jam Toast ($14.00), and served up with a couple of slices of freshly made pita bread, and a thick slice of toasted sourdough. It was great, although less tangy than what I previously tried. Hopefully it’ll regain its kick. It’s a unique combination. Try it.
This is the Brunch Special ($24), also known as Artichoke’s take on the Ploughman’s Platter, with chicken terrine, labneh on the side, eggplant jam, homemade pickled vegetables, green olives, and thick slices of sourdough. It’s one of those iconic English dishes, so you can imagine that I was rather surprised seeing this among Artichoke’s Moorish influences.
I tell you, the chicken terrine is fantastic. It’s a lot lighter than most terrines, flaky, and certainly not mushy. It is seasoned perfectly with a dash of some spices for a beautiful fragrance. This isn’t pâté though, so while you should schmear some on a slice of bread, it is not going to spread like butter, but add a small bit of that sweet eggplant jam (I tasted the caramelized onions more than eggplant, so haters needn’t worry) and you’re good to go. This is essentially a cold dish, so if you’re hankering for one of those belly-warming brunch dishes that’ll send you back to bed right after you wake, you might want to consider their ever-popular scrambled eggs (with sides of mushrooms and feta cheese, or maple-glazed bacon chop, or Moroccan sausage).
Or you could check out the Ful.
Look. At. The. Eggs.
If you don’t like eggs, that’s fine. It just means I get to eat more.
When I saw this on the menu, I couldn’t be sure what to expect, and since I wasn’t feeling particularly adventurous that day, I didn’t order it. Bjorn brought a small bowl out anyway (this was about 70% of the normal serving size), and the sight of the eggs sold me.
It’s an Egyptian dish, a chunky lava bean stew to warm your tummy with gorgeous eggs to boot. I had to know the secret. I just had to. So I asked, and until I replicate the same result, I’ll just continue to keep it a secret first (*wink).
This is the Lamb Shakshouka ($25), which I had ages ago but never talked about here. I’m glad it’s still on the brunch menu. It is out of this world. The crunch from the pistachio dukkah sprinkled on top seals the deal. But this is me, being partial towards lamb. And eggs. And tomato-based stews. And crunchy toppings. The lamb is fantastic, and the eggs as oozy as they come. Here, have a look.
This on a lazy weekend morning? Perfection.
This isn’t on the menu anymore, but the Salmon & Beetroot was a riot of colour on a stark white plate. Artichoke switches up their menu once in a while, so this may make an appearance again. Who knows?
See, I understand that the thought of rolling out of bed to whip up brunch at home – or any amount of cooking after a harrowing week for that matter – is a terrible, terrible first world pain, but as long as you’re able to muster enough strength to pull on some clothes, look decent, and stagger over to Artichoke, everything else is taken care of. Problem solved. Do make reservations though, they run a full house most of the time!
artichoke cafe + bar
161 Middle Road
Inside Sculpture Square
Tel: 6336 6949
Sat & Sun: 11.30am, last orders at 2.45pm, doors close at 4pm
Tues – Sat: 6.30pm, last food orders 9.45pm, doors close at 11pm
Closed on Mon