Sunday, June 15, 2014

Restaurant Review: Nur

Location: 1 Lynhurst Terrace, Central
Type of food: Nordic
Rating: ** (2.5 out of 5)

It is almost impossible to say anything negative about Nur. Located on the third floor of Lynhurst Tower in Central, the new restaurant grows its own herbs and sources much of its produce locally. Fewer food miles means fresher ingredients and a cleaner planet. The restaurant itself is an intimate space where the open kitchen blends seamlessly with the minimalist dining area of white walls, hardwood floors and an abundance of lush indoor plants. Half way through the meal, the master chef Nurdin Topham (who hailed from London/Copenhagen) will even come out to greet patrons and discuss his culinary philosophy. The kale, he will explain, has only taken 40 hours to go from farm to table. Impressive.

So what’s not to like about this place?

Nur on Lynhurst Terrace

Let’s just say Nur is not for everyone. The restaurant has no a la carte menu and you must choose between the nine-course “Feast” ($988) or the six-course “Light” ($788) prix-fixe. I decide to go with the more expensive option but quickly discover that it is anything but a feast. The portions are small and some of the courses, though innovative, feel like mere palate cleansers. The “Tomato” course, for example, is literally three tiny peeled cherry tomatoes in tomato water. Likewise, the “Salmon” course is a small piece of smoked fish next to a paper-thin slice of beet.

To be fair, everything is beautifully presented and the contrasting tastes of key ingredients are carefully balanced. Most of the dishes taste good – especially the crabmeat with pomelo and lemongrass – and at least one of the courses – wagyu beef with black garlic – feels somewhat substantial. The restaurant will probably appeal to those who value lightness and freshness enough to spend four figures on a modest meal. Most people I know, however, will expect more bang for their buck.

Beautiful tomatoes, but tomatoes nonetheless

Nur has good intentions and lofty goals, but the execution leaves something to be desired. To me, the idea of charging top dollars for a socially responsible meal is somewhat self-defeating. I would have written off the place as experimental or even pretentious, if I hadn’t met the unassuming Chef Topham in person and learned about the changes he was trying to bring to the local food scene. Nevertheless, if the restaurant were to survive the cut throat competition in Central, he is well advised to rethink the price point, expand the menu and perhaps get some tablecloths.

Nice guy, but he needs to rethink his strategy

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