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Food review: Californication of cuisine with a dose of conviviality at Rosemead

Jasmine Alimin
Jasmine Alimin • 7 min read
Food review: Californication of cuisine with a dose of conviviality at Rosemead
Find out what's cooking at all-new modern Californian restaurant Rosemead
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The latest buzzword in F&B is fine-casual cuisine — now offered by a new breed of restaurants like Jigger & Pony Group’s Rosemead, a modern Californian dining concept that’s big on conviviality

You would never guess by the blackened exterior of The Quadrant on Cecil — a neo-classical building once home to banks in the 1920s and more recently The Black Swan restaurant — that its interiors are bright and airy with a whole lot of personality belonging to all-new modern Californian restaurant Rosemead, by the Jigger & Pony Group.

Awash in rustic earthy-coppery colours with pops of sky grey, Rosemead gives us serious contemporary country home vibes, with its indoor-outdoor feel matched by deliberately unfinished walls and soft furnishings — a stark contrast to the monochromatic humdrum of the corporate world outside. Even the diners are not all just the typical lawyer-banker types but made up of anyone and everyone, from socialites and influencers to couples and retirees.

“The nature of fine dining is changing,” observes Rosemead’s general manager James Moon. “Especially in today’s context, we want less formality and instead seek out comfort while still pursuing a high level of refinement in our dining experiences. At Rosemead, we aim to make our guests feel at home — a place where they strengthen their connections with people that matter to them the most, and where time seems to fly.”

The heart and soul of the 80-seater restaurant is a brass open hearth kitchen which offers a visual feast to complement the lively atmosphere of the dining hall where patrons bond over fine food and great drinks.

See also: Restaurant JAG relocates to STPI Robertson Quay, delving further into the realm of vegetable gastronomy

At the main entrance, there is a bakery counter (opening late-Feb) where one may pick up pastries, cakes and breads, or simply stop by for a quick coffee. Out back, there is a charming 40-seater al fresco patio, perfect for after-work drinks or weekend brunches. And the basement — once a bank vault — is home to a cosy 10-seater private dining room.

The mezzanine level will soon be occupied by Jigger & Pony’s rum-focused cocktail pub, Sugarhall, which has been on hiatus since 2018. Watch this space for more news on its opening slated for March.

Seasonality, diversity, simplicity

See also: Lip-smacking festive bites to check out this holiday season

At the helm of Rosemead is co-owner and chef David Tang (from Caffe Fernet, also by the Jigger & Pony Group) and Moon (formerly from Esora and Mozza, Singapore) — both Asian Americans who hail from California. The pair have known each other for 10 years, having worked at Wolfgang Puck Fine Dining Group.

Rosemead — named after Tang’s hometown in California — showcases some of the chef’s greatest culinary influences from his time in Los Angeles, bursting with natural flavours and fresh seasonal tastes, many of which are masterfully woodfired over orange and lychee wood embers.

Trained at multiple Michelin-star restaurants such as the two-star French Mediterranean restaurant Mélisse in Santa Monica and during his long stint under Wolfgang Puck, Tang seeks to use his skills not to showcase what he can do, but simply to make people happy. “I’m just trying to feed people and build a community,” he enthuses.

The menu is anchored by Tang’s culinary philosophy of using local and sustainable ingredients as much as possible, paying particular attention to seasonality and with an emphasis on maximising the natural flavours of the produce. Not only will the menu change from season to season, a dish you might have eaten yesterday might not be available tomorrow, depending on what’s available in the kitchen.

“Singapore is similar to California in that both are omni-seasonal all year round,” says Tang. “We are constantly discovering and adjusting to local seasonality as well as in other parts of the globe. Rosemead gets the best of both worlds.”

As much as possible, Tang sources from local and regional suppliers, alongside seasonal ingredients from global producers such as France and Spain. From Singapore, he works closely with BlueAcres Aquaponics, Edible Garden City, Crab Lovers Farm and Ah Hua Kelong; and from Malaysia, farm collective Weeds & More and Chitose Farm, both in Cameron Highlands. In his dry goods pantry, he stocks local brands such as kampot peppercorns from Hong Spices and Kwong Woh Hing artisanal soy sauces.

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Additionally, Tang takes great care to ensure that certain specialist ingredients and finishing touches to Rosemead’s cuisine are made in-house — whether it’s milling its own flour, preserving fruit that will reappear later as condiments, or fermenting its own chilli.

Californication of cuisine

For its debut, Rosemead’s concise one-page food menu is neatly divided into Chilled, Vegetables and Grains, and Cooked Over Orange & Lychee Wood Embers, offering something for everyone.

Right off the bat, the first thing that touched my lips — the House Rolls & Shiitake Cultured Butter ($19) — impressed me. These fluffy pull-apart shokupans (Japanese milk buns) are cottony on the inside and coated with an addictive smoky mushroom-bacon glaze on the outside. It comes with a side of whipped shiitake-infused butter for a dose of umami, but even without it, the bread is good to eat on its own.

Mangrove Crab Tartine

Chitose Farm Tomato

From the Chilled section, every dish sounds mouth-watering, from the Hama Hama Farm Oyster ($27) to the Grassfed Wagyu Tartare ($52) and Caviar D Eden Broche Waffle (from $255). I sample a very photogenic Mangrove Crab Tartine ($38) delicately rolled with thin strips of avocado, offering some Japanese influence from the yuzu dressing.

Swordtip Squid

For Vegetables and Grains, we highly recommend the Slow Roasted Heirloom Carrot ($26) and Embered Kent Pumpkin ($29), which is buried in embered coals in Rosemead’s open hearth. Charred on the outside and with sweet, smoky, tender flesh on the inside, the organic pumpkin is served with a Mexican mole sauce made from the charred squash and its seeds, guajillo chile, golden raisins and chocolate.

For Cooked Over Orange & Lychee Wood Embers, we were served sharing plates of Roasted Hand Dive Scallop from Hokkaido ($98), Wood-Fired Lamb Shoulder ($120) and Roasted Whole Spanish Turbot ($280). The wood-firing method really brings out the natural flavours of the meats which hardly need any seasoning at all. If I had to pick, I’d return for the seafood and also try the melt-in-your-mouth Slow-Cooked Wagyu Short Rib ($65).

Chitose Farm Strawberry

For dessert, we recommend the Chitose Farm Strawberry & Heirloom Beetroot ($18), a play on strawberries and cream using Cameron Highlands-grown strawberries of “Japanese quality” and beetroot. This sweet is a Rosemead signature dessert from pastry chef Elena Pérez de Carrasco, who has worked with Joël Robuchon and Jason Atherton in Europe, as well as Singapore restaurants like Iggy’s, Artemis Grill & Sky Bar and Preludio. Chef Elena is also responsible for the bakery’s selection of breads, tarts, cakes and more.

Savour American wines

If you’re wondering if there are wines from Napa Valley here, the answer is yes, and more. Rosemead’s wines are sourced from around the world with a focus on small American producers. Singapore-born and bred principal sommelier Marcus Tan, one of the city’s youngest head sommeliers, leads the drinks programme. At just 29, Marcus has worked at Odette and Euphoria, and has put together a diverse wine list of over 170 labels and growing.

As a Jigger & Pony brand, Rosemead does not disappoint in the cocktails department. Bar manager Davide Boncimino — who has eight years’ experience behind the bar in London, Bangkok and Singapore — has curated a tight menu of eight to 10 cocktails that emphasise freshness and seasonality. We tried the Trigona Honey Bellini ($28++) that uses trigona honey puree gathered from stingless bees in Johor, kinkan (Japanese kumquat) and Jansz Premium Cuvee. A non-alcoholic option is the thirst-quenching Good Ship Lollipop ($18++) made from Melati, wood fire grilled plum, ginger, orange and soda.

From its warm and welcoming space to the easy hospitality that characterises Californian dining, and most importantly, the comforting fare filled with bold, honest flavours and impeccable technique, Rosemead marries everything so well to create a lively dining experience that’s refined, relaxed and celebratory — all the things that we’ve been missing these past couple of years.

19 Cecil Street
Singapore 049704

Email: [email protected]

Opening hours:
Tuesdays to Sundays | 6pm – 10.30pm
Closed on Mondays

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