What dish is a good representative of Aussie cuisine? Sweet tooths will know Lamington and Pavlova and seafood like fried battered fish, raw oysters and abalone come to mind. To experience the essence of Australian cuisine, head over to Blackwattle at Amoy Street in Singapore to taste a contemporary take on Down Under fare.
Opened by award-winning Australian chef Chef Clayton (of Automata) and a collaboration with Loh Lik Peng's Unlisted Collection, this 60-seat restaurant and bar serve contemporary Australian-influenced three and five-course menus along with à la carte options over lunch and dinner. These dishes reflect Clayton’s global travel experiences, which showcase interesting, quality ingredients and bold flavours in a modern, yet fuss-free way.
Taking cues from its Aussie sister, Automata, Blackwattle uses Australian culinary finesse and combines cooking techniques with local food culture. Notable dishes which exemplify this includes charred octopus, fennel, squid ink, XO & red vinegar and pumpkin seed sorbet with burnt meringue and freeze-dried plum.
Esquire had a chat with executive chef Wells to know why he chose Singapore for his first restaurant outside Australia and embracing local ingredients from the market.
ESQ: What made you choose the name, Blackwattle (a tree native to Australia)?
Clayton Wells (CW): When the tree is flowering, it’s my favourite smell. It is a nice little reminder of home for me.
ESQ: Why the foray into Asia, and Singapore in particular?
CW: Singapore has a thriving food scene and we come here often throughout the years. We also have a strong connection to Singapore as we are part of the Unlisted Collection, therefore it was an easy decision. I love the diversity here and the strong sense of community.
ESQ: How did the collaboration with Unlisted Collection come about? Is it from Automata or before that?
CW: It actually goes way back before Automata—to London over 7 years ago when I worked as sous chef at another Unlisted Collection restaurant Viajante (now the Typing Room).
ESQ: The marriage of Australian (sea) and Asian (unique/exotic to Asia) flavours are distinctive in your dishes. What made you choose this culinary direction?
CW: In Australia, we are so spoilt for choice in terms of beautiful ingredients, namely seafood. I have always had a big appreciation for Asian ingredients, and I especially love working with different types of seaweeds and ferments. As I only like to have a few different elements on a plate, these ingredients help bring so much depth and complexity.
ESQ: Where and how do you usually get your inspiration when you’re in the kitchen and not travelling?
CW: I love when my suppliers send me new ingredients they have come across for me to experiment with.
ESQ: Tell us the brainstorming process in creating your dishes. Do you involve the team in the selection too?
CW: I like to give my team the time and means to experiment. In Sydney, we let the guys order in ingredients (within reason!) to experiment with their own ideas. We get them to present to the team and we discuss. I think it keeps everyone inspired and keeps us all learning. I can’t wait to do the same with the team here in Singapore.
ESQ: How does Blackwattle differ from its sister restaurant, Automata? Is it the ingredients used or the concept behind the menu?
CW: The style of food we will be serving at Blackwattle will definitely be similar to Automata, the differences will lie in the produce that we will use and how we use them. For instance, we are currently experimenting with more local ingredients such as ginger flowers, Indian gooseberries, hibiscus flowers and working them into our style of cooking.
ESQ: The list of bar snacks looks atypical compared to the usual ones served in bars. What made you use these unique ingredients which work well with the cocktails and drinks offered at your bar?
CW: I wanted a bar snack menu that is still representative of what we do in the restaurant. We have many types of Amaro, so I wanted food that would pair well with them and other classic cocktails.
ESQ: Is the course menu seasonal and will you expand it in the future by giving it a local twist to certain dishes?
CW: Yes, we try to keep it as seasonal as possible, and aim to change the menu monthly, if not weekly at times.
ESQ: What is your favourite meal of the day and why?
CW: The family meal. We always make sure to stop and share a meal and relax before service.
ESQ: What can we expect from Blackwattle in the future (in terms of culinary breakthrough or defining and refining Blackwattle’s signature tastes)?
CW: Obviously we are wanting to explore more local flavours and ingredients, incorporating it into our own signature style. Singapore has such a prolific food culture, and we want to be respectful of that while still doing our thing.
Blackwattle is located at 97 Amoy Street, Singapore 069917. For more inquiries, call 6224 2232 or e-mail at email@example.com