[Review] Top 5 Dishes from Artichoke Singapore's Weekend Brunch

November 03, 2018 0 Comments A+ a-

Artichoke has been a permanent fixture of Bugis for 8 years. In an era where even award winning, 3 Michelin star restaurants such as Joel Robuchon Restaurant can close its doors after a couple of years in Sentosa, 8 years is certainly a long time in this business.

Yet despite all these years, the restaurant is not only surviving but thriving in the food industry. Its ever evolving, dynamic repertoire of food from its menu is testament to how the restaurant has managed to stayed ahead of the competition.


Hidden in an enclave behind the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Nafa) , it is certainly easy to miss this restaurant. It's like someone's house in the middle of the medium sized concrete buildings surrounding the city area.

Its friendly and down-to-earth chef-owner, restauranteur, Bjorn Shen, shared with us how the name of the restaurant Artichoke came about. Apparently, he flipped open a cookbook, turned to a random page, closed his eyes and randomly pointed his finger.  The first word that he pointed to was the word 'beginning', which didn't exactly resonate with him. He tried again, and this second time, the word he pointed to was Artichoke, and the name has stuck ever since.

Such is his casual, carefree disposition, and the food itself doesn't try too hard to be too serious either. But more on that later.

Chef-Owner's Philosophy

We had to ask ourselves though. Does a restaurant that serves Middle Eastern cuisine have a place in Singapore? Who would be its audience? Should its strategy be to cater to the locals or the expatriates?

Well, Chef Bjorn, who also happens to be one of the judges of the recently concluded TV cooking show series MasterChef Singapore 2018, and has quite an effervescent personality, seems to be in a buoyant mood these days given the success that his restaurant has found. And he was more than happy to share insights into the secrets of his success.

At the 3 year mark, his restaurant was having an identity crisis. He was wondering whether he should follow the trends of what kind of food that the audience wants instead of merely serving Middle Eastern food. After all, to any entrepreneurial businessman, it may not make much business sense to restrict your market and audience to just those who want to eat Middle Eastern food.

Thankfully, he stuck to his philosophy and principles. He did not want to pander to the market, he says articulately. He did not merely want to follow the trend. He wanted to innovate and be a thought leader in the industry. To create demand where there was none, rather than to just be a follower and be the supplier to what was being demanded.

This is his yard after all. You either enter his house and deal with his nuances, or live life knowing that you missed a great opportunity to try out something different.

My Top 5 Picks

As ambitious as that sounds, it was certainly the right decision as Chef Bjorn followed his passion. And when one does put his heart, passion and soul into the food he creates, with a degree of ingenuity and talent, the food turns out to be nothing short of phenomenal.

The food is also unpretentious and reflects the chef's personality. The food is deliciously fun, novel and doesn't try to take itself too seriously. That's because in terms of presentation, it's kinda messy, it's definitely not Instagram worthy, but it tastes absolutely wonderful. Surely, that's all that matters, right?

So let's cut to the chase and share our favourites from the Weekend Brunch menu. These are the 5 must tries: Fried Cauliflower Salad, Fried Chicken drumsticks marinated with Middle Eastern spices, the Shakshouka that is reminiscent of Spanish eggs, Mezze Platter and the Burnt Honey Sea Salt Soft Serve.

1) Fried Cauliflower Salad (S$24++)

My favourite dish, the cauliflower salad, pushes the boundaries and redefines what a cauliflower tastes like and I would never ever see the cauliflower in the same way again.

Crispy, with a myriad of tastes and spices which blend together harmoniously, this epitomises the chef's innovation and how he manages to infuse his creative juices into a seemingly boring old cauliflower to make it outstanding. The egg's runny texture also offered a nice complement to the otherwise dry salad. 

2) Artichoke Fried Chicken (S$25++)

The chicken drumsticks were just oozing with a multitude of flavours from the various Middle Eastern spice marinates intricately sealed in with za'atar honey, and showcases the chef's mastery in keeping his food simple yet aromatic and appealing. Before sinking your teeth into those (already) flavourful drumsticks, remember to dip it into the cheese dippings too. It's finger licking good!

3) Shakshouka (S$28++)

Here at Artichoke, eggs, synonymous with breakfast, are explored through this dish. Enjoy the eggs slowly simmered in a spicy tomato sauce and thick halloumi cheese. Use the Turkish toast to dig up all that cheesy goodness!

4) Mezze Platter (S$23++)

Consisting of the 4 freshest mezzes (small dishes) served on the chef's recommendation, this classic Middle Eastern dish is a perfect one for sharing. For me, the flavourful falafel quinoa ball stole the show. Together with the chickpea hummus blended with miso and the Turkish bread, this platter made our brunch an exceptionally hearty one.

5) Burnt Honey Sea Salt Soft Serve (S$6++)

End off the meal with a honey soft serve. Surprisingly not heavy on the palate, this dessert was not overly sweet and, in my opinion, a better healthier version of the usual salted caramel version.


In all, our dining experience at Artichoke was casual and laidback, but also positive and refreshing. The food and vibes were just the perfect way to start the weekend.


161 Middle Road, Singapore 188978

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