Housed within the newly opened Hotel Vagabond along Syed Alwi Road, 5th Quarter Restaurant is the latest establishment of the Unlisted Collection. Like several other Unlisted Collection’s outlets – such as Ember, Esquina, Majestic and Provision Shop – 5th Quarter Restaurant is in a neighbourhood where the process of gentrification is starting. 5th Quarter’s location and its decor may be somewhat offbeat. What is spot on is the meaty menu of Executive Chef Andrew Nocente, an Australian with Italian heritage, featuring house-cured charcuterie, grilled meats and other delightful dishes.
There are so many new restaurants and cafes in Singapore. How do you stand out from the crowd? One sure way is to look different. 5th Quarter Restaurant’s interior design is certainly distinctive. No chic industrial theme decor, no minimalism and no monotone colour scheme. Instead, the decor of 5th Quarter is decidedly rich with deep colours of red and gold, heavy drapes and plush velvet chairs. How about ceiling height golden trees and a life-size bronze rhinoceros sculpture as accent pieces? The look and feel of the expansive dining room and bar is borderline satirical. But that is why 5th Quarter is not likely to be quickly forgotten nor considered run of the mill.
We wondered about the name 5th Quarter. We asked and were told it was derived from the “fifth quarter meats” of Roman cuisine. What are fifth quarter meats, and how can you get five out of four quarters? Apparently in ancient Rome, the first quarter of a butchered animal was given to the nobles, the second to the priests, the third to the rich bourgeoisie and the fourth to the soldiers. So what about the rest of the ordinary Romans? Well they got the offal and other less-appreciated parts of an animal, which were called “quinto quarto” or fifth-quarter meats. Co-incidentally, fifth-quarter meats comprise about a quarter of an animal’s entire bulk. Roman cooks created many good delectable dishes using fifth quarter meats. Over time, quinto quarto dishes had evolved into food for connoisseurs and served even in restaurants frequented by the modern equivalents of the nobles and bourgeoisie.
As you can see from the menu below, 5th Quarter does offer “quinto quarto” items like tripe, beef tongue and pork tail. However, they also have seafood, vegetables and regular cuts of meat.
5th Quarter has a dinner menu and a different menu for lunch. There are only a dozen items available on the lunch menu. Each item is $10. We are told that the menu would change every 2 weeks or so.
We ordered 4 savoury plates and a dessert to share. The food came beautifully plated. They tasted as good as they looked.
Whipped Ricotta & Beetroot – the whipped ricotta was smooth almost like ice cream and with the sweetness of the beetroot the dish felt like a dessert. A very nice start to our lunch.
Smoked Crab, Apple & Walnut – an excellent dish with flavourful crabmeat which combined well with the refreshing and crunchy apple slices and a host of other ingredients.
Japanese Corn Spiced Cheese & Chives – the simple corn was transformed by the grilling and the spiced cheese sauce into something quite exceptional and marvellous. It was the best tasting corn we have had for a long time.
Grass Fed Sirloin and Polenta Chips – the beef was well cooked; juicy and flavourful. The green parsley moss did not look very interesting but it actually had a very nice smooth texture and great taste.
Hibiscus Cherry & Creme Fraiche dessert – combination of hibiscus parfait, cherry compote, Creme Fraiche and meringue was interesting and delicious.
We enjoyed our lunch at 5th Quarter very much. We would return to try the many other treats they have to offer. The service was professional and friendly. They were not so snooty as to offer only “sparkling or still water” but free iced water was served from a beautiful wine decanter. The menu was interesting. The refined dishes were beautifully presented and, most importantly, the food was delicious and enjoyable. The ambience was certainly unforgettable. They have a bar with cool music in the evening and a great wine list too. Whatever the nobles or bourgeoisie may think, the ordinary patrons say the 5th Quarter is probably the most fun and accessible restaurant to open in Singapore recently.
Food : 5
Service : 4
Value : 4
Atmosphere : 5
Overall Rating: 5 TOPs
5th Quarter Restaurant (Moved to 12 Purvis Street in June 2016)
39 Syed Alwi Road
Tel : +65 6291 1936
Tue-Sun: 12:00 pm-2:30 pm; 6:30 pm-10:30 pm