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Review: Californian dining gets classy at Rosemead, with price tags to match

If California shares a similar climate with the Mediterranean, then the culinary equivalent is a plate of tomatoes at the new restaurant Rosemead.

It looks deceptively simple: tart cherry tomatoes, charred and blistered from a stint on top hot coals, are tossed in a vinaigrette of spicy nduja sausage and sweet Spanish sherry. Crackling pork skin, garnished like Dippin’ Dots, nestle around basil leaves. Each bite, however, is electrifying, like hearing the Star Wars theme for the first time.

Many aspects of Rosemead are similarly vibrant. The vibe is buzzy. The service is attentive and warm. The decor subtly gleams like an old money holiday home. And the food priorities fresh, seasonal ingredients that are sourced locally as much as possible.

(Image credit: Rosemead / Facebook)

The restaurant calls this modern Californian, but it’s more like a microcosm of the Golden State: coastal, multicultural, moneyed. The menu is heavy on vegetables and seafood, and seasoned with European, Latin, and Asian influences. Prices range between S$24 for the tomatoes to S$498 for a Rangers Valley Angus rib chop. This is, most certainly not, the Taco Bell and Wendy’s of Fresno.

Running the kitchen is Californian native chef David Tang, who employs acid with deft. Marron, a type of crayfish, is brightened with fingerlime. Lacto-fermented Lebanese pickles steal the thunder from a colossal, juicy lamb shoulder.

Tang also does sauces brilliantly. Butternut squash, roasted until tender, sits on a smoky, multidimensional Mexican mole. Plump Hokkaido scallops are spiked with prickly ash, the same plant that produces sansho peppercorn, then cooled with creamy beurre blanc. Less successful is the wagyu short rib with black truffles, which is muddled by honey and soy marinate.

Wood-fired lamb shoulder, tahina and Lebanese pickles (Image credit: Rosemead)

Rosemead’s pastry chef, Elena Pérez de Carrasco, also holds her own. Pillowy Japanese milk bread called shokupan comes with a umami glaze of smoked bacon and kombu. Beetroot adds an earthy layer to strawberries and cream. A malty chocolate tart with torched honey meringue is a playful rendition of s’mores.

This being a restaurant in the Jigger & Pony Group, the cocktails are executed with a studied air of nonchalance, or what the Italians call sprezzatura. Hearth-Side Sour riffs on the classic whiskey cocktail with grilled red cherries and savoury BBQ bitters. Trigona honey brings a floral, piney sweetness to a Bellini. It also burnishes the drink with a light golden sheen, as lustrous as an evening here.

Rosemead is located at 19 Cecil St, Singapore 049704. They currently open only for dinner, but are slated to offer lunch and a takeaway bakery counter by the second half of February 2022. Book here.

Jethro Kang
Jethro enjoys wine, biking, and climbing, and he's terrible at all three. In between them, he drinks commercial lagers and eats dumplings.
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