“If you’re going to kill the animal, it seems only polite to use the whole thing,” wrote Fergus Henderson in his 2004 book The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating.
This is the book that put roasted bone marrow in restaurant menus all over the world, and it is this book that sprung to mind when I got my hands on Fat Belly Social Steakhouse’s menu.
No, Fat Belly’s new outfit on Boon Tat Street isn’t all nose-to-tail, but it does champion secondary cuts and offals — parts rarely seen at “proper” steakhouses. There’s pig’s ear, deep-fried, spiced and served with pickled cucumber and aioli; grilled ox tongue with salsa verde, jalapeño and shaved fennel; a grilled octopus accompanied by a dollop of stew made with tripe, chickpeas, and end cuts of chorizo from the restaurant’s charcuterie board; and a roasted bone marrow littered with pickled shimeiji and hazelnut in the “Small Plates” section. Underrated cuts like the Flat Iron (from the cow’s shoulder) and the Zabuton (or Denver Cut, also from the cow’s front shoulder) are stars of the menu, served in large formats for groups of three to four.
Penang-born Chef Victor Loy delivers all these and more with the same care and respect as one would for premium ingredients. The meatiness of the grilled ox tongue is balanced with a burst of freshness from the salsa verde. A perfectly grilled octopus tentacle arrives alongside a rich, thick stew that’s a balm for the soul. I’d prefer the roasted bone marrow to have a tad more beefiness, but it’s still good, with a tang from the pickled mushroom and crunch from the hazelnuts. Butter, what?
The Rib Cap and Zabuton are sliced up and served on, literally, a silver platter placed on a pedestal so we can worship. Cooked to medium rare, both are well-marbled and tender. Char is feeble, but there’s enough blood and encouraging flavours. Between the two, get the Zabuton if you like a stronger, riper taste. Amongst the six sauces, the bordelaise sauce, derived from four red wines, bone marrow and vegetables, is a safe bet. But should you have a weakness for crustaceans, the scampi butter maybe up your alley. It’s also a good idea to order the juicy, refreshing and mildly tangy beef heart tomato even though the steaks come with a bunch of a different variety.
Fat Belly may be writing off on fancy cuts, it’s not doing the same for wines. On the wine list are over 70 brands — old world, new world, organic and biodynamic labels from France, Italy, Spain and New Zealand — to fuel your indecision. Don’t worry; the restaurant’s in-house wine experts are on hand to help you pick.
Desserts are heavy stuff — think Eton mess, full of cream and seasonal fruits, a burnt Stilton cheesecake for those who love blue cheese (I don’t, so it’s wasted on me), a pistachio and olive oil cake, and the Valrhona chocolate bruciato with poached pear and yuzu and pear sorbet. But this is a place for convivial communal eating — adhering to current guidelines of course — so heaviness shouldn’t be an issue.
(All images: Fat Belly Social Steakhouse)
Fat Belly Social Steakhouse, 21A Boon Tat Street, Singapore 069620, +65 6227 2247