10 Woodlands Avenue 3
+65 6269 0918
Be it a bookshop, a coffeehouse or an off-off-Broadway theatre production, I am a sucker for anything that veers from the beaten path. But the best of these finds is the hidden-gem restaurant, Cheval.
That’s why I began to take notice when murmurs started trickling through Singapore’s food blogs a while back. The epicurious were abuzz about a new restaurant near Woodlands – “a hidden gem”, they whispered. The name – Cheval Café Bar Bistro. The location – the rolling green hills of the Singapore Turf Club Riding Centre. What’s more, it was serving up a cuisine close to my heart – contemporary Western bistro fare.
I grabbed my MRT card and headed for the northern border. Exiting at Kranji station, I set out on foot. No shopping crowds, no melee – the courteous lot at this station even let me exit the train before they began to board. I love it here already.
As the skies begin to darken, I amble down a quiet, tree-lined street before spotting Cheval. In the sleek yet casual eatery is a mix of locals and expats with a smattering of faces well-known in the horse racing industry.
As the rains hits full throttle, the large outdoor deck empties. But the covered riding centre in full view of every seat in Cheval’s house doesn’t. I settle in with a glass of white wine ($8) and a feta-laden chef’s salad ($9) and watch a horse trainer try to tame a young mare that’s displaying a rebellious side. A group of mums sip Cleopatra’s Champagne and other teas, while keeping a close eye on their children’s equestrian lessons.
From fish and chips ($16) to New Zealand lamb chops ($19), the menu lifts favourites from around the globe. Though the soy-glazed Norwegian salmon fillet ($19) is a tempting choice, I succumb to the call of the crabmeat linguine ($16), a perfectly cooked pasta with sautéed garlic, shallots, red chilli, home-cooked tomato sauce and chunks of tender crab.
On the side, I tack on a portion of shoestring cut fries with garlic mayo sauce ($6), devouring every piece of golden, oily goodness – who’ll ever know?
Safe inside the floor-to-ceiling glass walls, I enjoy being cosily sheltered from the downpour. Further comfort is delivered in the form of a delicate basil-infused banana crepe ($8) and a warm signature chocolate lava cake ($10) with summer berries, raspberry coulis and vanilla bean gelato. Cliché or not – Cheval saves the best for last.
With daily happy hour specials and a dedicated husband and wife team at the helm, Cheval is becoming a favourite in the north. It would be a shame for the rest of Singapore to miss out.