Perfect for vegetarians, cocktail drinkers, and foodies who love fusion of European and Asian cuisine, PYXIEMOSS is one place that doesn’t play it safe
Opening a restaurant is never a cakewalk; you need grit and a certain hardiness to toil through the terrain. Perhaps, that explains Chef Tim Ross-Watson’s infatuation with moss; he now embarks on his sophomore resto-launching chapter following his Garden of Eden concept that fizzled out in 2012. Four years later, Chef Tim brings PYXIEMOSS to the table, and instead of playing it safe and tip-toeing on shaky ground, he takes a brazen, unorthodox approach on his newest brainchild. Is the risk paying off?
I should urge diners here to keep an open mind; Chef Tim’s creations veer off the trajectory of run-of-the-mill cuisine. At the outset of my lunch here – though PYXIEMOSS is officially open for dinner only – I was presented with a starter that startled. Sticking out via toothpicks from a miniature clay cacti pot stuffed with moss, were two beetroot macaron swirls, that you’re meant to pair with accompanying pickled pig skin with cream cheese wrapped in pork belly and smoked bacon – the Pigaroon, at $3 a pop. The macaron swirls dissolved on my tongue like a brittle meringue, while the porcine treat contrasted with a fatty flavour and heftier texture. And imagine a ‘hot dog’ based on Berlin’s famous currywurst sausages, albeit adapted into a vegetarian version using a char-grilled carrot (behold: the ‘sausage’) coated with gula Melaka and Asian achar. At $5 a piece, these Carrot Dogs were yet another convo starter.
Such is the staggering effect of PYXIEMOSS’ playful treats, and Chef Tim’s daredevil methodology in the kitchen – he himself is an avid biker whose Harley Davidson is often parked outside – is evident. From curing fresh Norwegian salmon with upcycled coffee grinds (Coffee Lox, $18) to swapping diced seafood with gelatinous sea coconut in his take on the ceviche (Seaviche, $8) – make sure you scoop up these zesty goodies with the crispy hickory-smoked corn chips provided – these culinary inventions are full of surprises, and are available at affordable prices no less. Take The Tribbiani – Chef Tim’s tribute to a particular iconic character from Friends; no prizes for guessing who – that assembles a decadently creamy duck liver mousse infused with Pedro Ximenez sherry, and served with crispy duck heart crumbs and focaccia chips glazed with rendered chicken fat. You can mutter “How you doing?” to this gastronomical delight for just $15.
If there’s one confession I have to make with this review, it’s that I absolutely abhor celery – ’tis the bane of my salad-eating habits. So when I was told that Chef Tim’s rendition of the Waldorf Salad, Not Just The Tip ($14), was essentially celery done in six different ways, I anticipated munching on this with a clothes peg on my nose. To my surprise though, this elaborate garden-in-a-bowl was not as offputtingly bitter as I’d feared. Mixed with creamy barley risotto, sweet candied walnuts and milky stilton cheese, this dish didn’t make me object wolfing down the root, leaves, stem and tip of the celery, all prepared in complex ways – the root, for instance, is cooked over minimal heat for six weeks(!), while the skin is dehydrated and turned into ash-like charcoal. Even for a celery Grinch like me, this was shockingly palatable.
For the more carnivorously-inclined, however, the Mother’s Lamb ($18) would suit you better. Naturally, lamb is the primary protein here, but don’t expect any boring ol’ lamb chops. Instead, tandoor-grilled lamb neck and heart take centrestage – the former firmly chewy, while the latter had a softer texture with the gamey taste of liver – and are topped off with crackling, smoked lamb bacon. A meat-lover’s dream, this one.
Desserts don’t disappoint on the creative front either; Chef Tim has one stand-out sweet that will tempt any fan of Snickers chocolate bars. Simply dubbing it Snickerz ($10), he uses a glutinous rice brownie to make up the dense chocolate shell, and switches up caramel with salted gula Melaka cream to up the sweet-savoury combo, and sprinkles Thai basil and caramelised peanuts on top for extra flavour and bite. Close your eyes while eating this, and you’ll be convinced there’s a deconstructed Snickers on your plate.
What Chef Tim has let sprout from PYXIEMOSS, is proof that one can still have the courage to push the boundaries despite prior letdowns. It may hazardously go against the grain, but at least it definitely packs – like moss – the stamina and resilience to stand out amidst a fiercely competitive food scene. Once more, is the risk paying off? I’d like to believe so.
PYXIEMOSS, 43 North Canal Road, Singapore 059299, p. 6532 2171. Open Mon-Sat 5pm-12am, closed Sun.