After feeding a loyal stream of diners at its Ann Siang Road restaurant, Lolla branches out to The Working Capitol with its new offshoot, Lollapalooza. The name doesn't so much reference the indie music festival as the word's ‘things out of the ordinary’ dictionary definition, though on visual inspection, it doesn't quite seem to be the case.
The décor has an almost New Nordic serenity with a palette of light pine, cold marble tables and moss green coverings for the banquettes in the dining room. These look out to the narrow and long open kitchen and the heaving applewood fire oven, where ex-Kaixo chef/owner Isaac Lee commands a local team. To the side, a warmer toned room with an 8m-long communal table serves as Lollapalooza's equivalent of Ann Siang's community table/private room in the basement.
The date-stamped menu, refreshed daily, is where things start to go off the beaten path. Just like its sister restaurant, throwing weird off-cuts and farmer names at you is par for the course. It's certainly intriguing to muse with a dining partner what a dog cockle ($30) or saltwort ($14) might be, or if by tuna eye ($44), the kitchen really sends the face of a fish glaring at you – they sort of do – but the higher prices don't necessarily encourage experimentation. Same with the boutique wines, which start at $18 for a glass, $58 a 500ml carafe and $80 for a bottle of Rhone Valley Syrah, and peaks at $54.80 a glass, $179 a carafe and $249 a bottle of organic Burgundy.
Our small bowl of firm dog cockles – a neat, pale beige clam that's a cousin of the sea hum, brought here from Australia – feels a little warmer than chilled, and our first bite is crunchy with too much salt. The safer bet of an egg omelette, garnished with a generous mess of explosively salty salmon ikura orbs ($28), takes the meal into comfort food territory.
Tender corned veal's tongue ($45) has a Chinese vinegar bite to it and arrives as a visceral lump with a side of white wine vinegar-strong salsa verde. Eating it requires minor surgery on your part to strip the leathery skin off the fibrous meat, which you'll happily do – the thick-handled Opinel steak knives feels almost like a sharp tool you can't wait to go stabby-happy with.
At times during our visit, the room felt like it had come on with an onset of eye-watering PSI 50 haze. After sitting through the blanket of campfire smells in the room, we get a taste of the wood-fire flames in the lukewarm chop of Dingley Dell pork from Suffolk ($38). The meat arrives in a gradient of doneness, not in the shade of pink promised on the menu, but co-owner Thaddeus Yeo handles the complaint like a pro, offering to comp it from our bill with a cute 'Lolla loves you' note on the receipt. On one end, the meat is plain, but the pink flesh closer to the bone is sinfully juicy and almost beefy.
Despite hearing never-ending praise for Yeo, Pang Hian Tee and Lee Chin Sin's two ventures, a really good meal seems to always elude us at Lolla and Lollapalooza. We're not quite ready to write it off yet. Their thesis of menus changes daily and preparing odd cuts in palatable ways is certainly what Singapore's diners can benefit from. We just wish they'd reward adventure with more forgiving price tags.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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