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Hands up if you’re as clueless as we were about who Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt was, but thanks to lifestyle company A Thousand Tales’ newest project – they’re also behind Bar Stories, The Crostini Bar and Table Manners – we’re finally acquainted with Sir Stamford Raffles’ little-known first wife. But while the lady herself was born in India and raised in Ireland, OCF (for short) the restaurant dabbles in elegant, refined French cuisine. Still, it’s nestled within the historic surroundings of the former Empress Place Building (there’s even a statue of the famous founder outside) by the Singapore River, above homegrown music joint Timbre.
Besides the original colonial-era facade, the dignified space takes on an intimate old-world charm with a grand piano (there are live classical and jazz performances on Fridays and Saturdays) and subdued black furniture at one end, while the other half is occupied by a sleek bar counter and a l’atelier-style open kitchen where chef Jonathan Koh (formerly from The Boathouse) presides over a seasonal, produce-driven menu that currently features a winter theme.
Starters like the Brittany squid with black rice cremeux and mussel vinaigrette ($25) and Hokkaido scallops paired with edamame and green onions are ideal plate-fellows for the mains, including the callote de beouf with root and tuber vegetables ($35) and Maine lobster atop crustacean barley ($38). Otherwise, choose from two degustation menus, aptly christened the ‘Menu Olivia’ ($95, five courses) and ‘Menu Stamford’ ($125, seven courses) for an elaborate experience; oenophiles will also appreciate OCF’s extensive list of European wines, accompanied by a couple of Bar Stories’ signature cocktails, including the pisco passion ($23) and strawberry shortcake ($25).
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