COL’s Chef-Owner Colin Buchan has a glowy reputation. Back in the UK, he spent over a decade in the kitchens of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and has also been the private chef for Victoria and David Beckham. Here in Singapore, he’s been the Executive Chef of food programming at private member’s club 1880 since he joined the pre-opening team five years ago (a role he continues to maintain).
COL is his first foray into resturant ownerdom and perfectly encapsulates his favourite eateries in East London, offering fuss-free fine-dining in a welcoming, cosy and buzzy atmosphere. The decor oozes hip urban cool with the 50-seater dining area flanked by a mesmerising open kitchen and two bustling bars – chic spots for a Nero Negroni, Coconut Highball, or Bobby Burns, COL’s interpretation of an espresso martini.
The uncomplicated decor allows the food to do the talking. Working closely with Head Chef Dennis Smit, Chef Colin presents a humble menu with a fine-dining spin and eclectic European accents; reimagined classics come with bold new flavours and an emphasis on seasonality and healthy eating.
The starters set the bar high with dishes that are delicious, unstuffy, and seriously moorish. The uninhibited Wood-Fired Bread slathered with whipped feta ($22); Irish oysters with calabrese peppers and preserved lemon mignonette (six for $48); and the Hand-Dived Roasted Scallops served with seaweed butter, shiso leaves and a grapefruit marmalade ($46) were so mouthwateringly original, they could have been supersized and devoured as fabulous mains.
But not to worry, the actual mains of Bucatini pasta with girolle mushrooms, arugula, pine nuts, tarragon and pecorino ($30); a juicy aged beef burger dressed in yellow mustard, pickled cucumbers, bacon, and raclette ($27); and grilled whole prawns, harissa butter, burnt lime ($42) did not let us down. Expertly marbled cuts of Sanchoku Wagyu Prime Rib and Black Opal Wagyu Entrecôte grilled over Japanese coal and brushed with Wagyu beef fat also maintained the excellent standards. Miso-roasted cauliflower ($25) and Ratte potatoes ($18) made for decidedly different and memorable sides.
Just when we thought it couldn’t get better, COL hit us with a COLPOP, a thick bar of raspberry rose parfait on a stick, coated with Opalys white cocoa and raspberry ripple ($18). Move over Mr Whippy and stuffy fine-dining establishments be warned – there’s definitely a new kid in town.
VERDICT: COL is a unique and refined concept bringing good times, delicious food, and culture together. Come here for casual fine dining and straightforward fun – who doesn’t want a bit of that?