Review: Curious Palette, Prinsep Street
The narrow cave barely allowed passage,
But after a few tens of paces
The world opened into spacious brightness…
— Tao Yuanming 陶渊明 (365-427), ‘On the Peach Blossom Spring’
It’s almost like they’re trying not to be discovered, the folks at Curious Palette. Along a stretch of shophouse bars and cafes with all the tried and tested lures dangling out – upper-floor signboards, greeters at the gates – they’ve opted for a waist-high blackboard with the shop name thinly chalked in, placed to the side of the glass door, half hidden behind a step. It’s almost like they’re hiding in shame, and it turns out they are, as I order the seven spiced chai latte and the svelte server is forced to divulge their terrible secret.
‘Um, our cinnamon hasn’t actually come in yet, so would you still like your seven (six) spice chai latte?’ Quelle horreur.
Well, every new restaurant needs a little while to get things in order, and Curious Palette is very new indeed. The fourth cafe by Ryan Tan of Papa Palheta and Strangers’ Reunion, its feel is more stripped down, adapted to the long, narrow space it’s taken over – skylights for abundant natural lighting, fishbowl lamp bulbs and strategically placed staghorn ferns. Inside, the long counter forms the centrepiece of the setting; where it’s sleek and unadorned, the dishes and drinks that issue from it are big, generous affairs.