Just when you think Singapore’s thriving dining scene couldn’t get hotter, news about Clayton Wells, head chef and owner of award-winning Automata in Sydney, opening a new restaurant-bar concept here, is announced.
Dubbed Blackwattle, after the native Australian tree, the venture will mark the second restaurant Wells has opened with Unlisted Collection—local hotelier and restauranteur Loh Lik Peng’s umbrella brand that comprises a distinctive league of boutique hotels and restaurants in Singapore, London, Shanghai and Sydney.
“I've long wanted to open something in Asia, but it needed to be the right spot,” Wells tells us. The 50-seater, which will occupy a two-level shophouse on Amoy Street, is slated to open in September. “We have a strong connection to Singapore through my business partner Loh Lik Peng and Unlisted Collection, and when this site became available we knew it was perfect for my next restaurant.”
The timing was another crucial factor, as Wells wanted to be sure Automata was “in a good place” before turning his attention to opening a new restaurant. “Joeri (Timmermans), who has been sous chef at Automata since we opened, will be leading the kitchen at Blackwattle,” he shares.
Wells also confirms that the menu would reflect the same winning style of cuisine that has earned Automata and Wells the praise and accolades they have in the short two years since it opened at the Old Clare Hotel on Kensington Street.
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Some have described his cuisine as one that transcends geographical boundaries, with dishes that display bold favours in an uncomplicated style that is unique to him and his experiences working at some of Europe’s and Australia’s best restaurants.
Blackwattle, he explains, will have the same DNA as his Sydney restaurant. But with a few uniquely Singaporean influences thrown into the mix. Think dishes such as mud crab with braised pumpkin seeds, egg yolk jam, spider crab and white pepper broth. “This dish is inspired by an early trip to Singapore,” Wells shares.
There is also a dish of smoked duck and grilled shoots served with fermented pumpkin and pumpkin seed miso; as well as a dessert of buttermilk ice cream with black sesame, cumquat, tangelo and mandarin. A five-course tasting menu will be available in addition to a selection of a la carte options.
Guests can also dine at the bar on the second level, which will serve cocktails, a small menu of bar snacks alongside lunch and dinner options.
He says is also extremely keen on exploring local influences and producers. “We’ve been meeting many producers in the last couple of months as we plan our menu. I’ve found a great local coffee collective that I intend on working with, and have no doubt we’ll find even more interesting partners to work with.”