After a few successful years in Dempsey Hill, Tippling Club has moved to Tanjong Pagar in Singapore in 2013. The restaurant is created in a few historic shop houses south of Chinatown. Chef Patron of Tippling Club is United Kingdom born Ryan Clift. At the age of thirteen he came to the conclusion that school was not really his cup of tea, and he took up a job as a dishwasher in a restaurant in Wiltshire, called The Bell. After six months, when one of the members of the kitchen team was fired, the chef gave Clift an apron and asked him to become member of the team. This was a life changing moment for Clift, who was immediately blown away by the velocity of a professional kitchen. His chef convinced him to go to culinary school to get a professional degree. His teacher at that time, Andy Offland, was impressed by the fact that Clift worked already in a fine dining restaurant at this age, and that he knew all the basic techiques and terminology of a professional kitchen. He became a mentor for Chef Clift and has had an important influence on his further career. It was the same Andy Offland who also introduced Clift into Claridges were he started working immediately after culinary school. After leaving Claridges, he was cooking together with several of the world’s best chefs. Especially being able to work with Marco Pierre White, while he was still daily in the kitchen himself, was one of his best learning experiences.
At a certain point of time, Chef Clift moved to Melbourne in Australia to work in Vue de Monde, where he became chef de cuisine after six months. This was the first time that he was running a complete restaurant operation. It is also during the nine years he was there, that he developed his own style. One day, Chef Clift was approached by a Singaporean lady, who wanted to invest in a restaurant in Singapore. She proposed Clift to step into the project with her. This was the start of Tippling Club in 2008. From the beginning, focus was not only on the food, but also cocktails became an essential part of the Tippling Club concept. At the start of the project, Clift worked together with Matthew Bax. Both were convinced that cocktails match better with food than wine. Even though Bax is no longer involved in Tippling Club, the strong focus on pairing dishes with cocktails has never changed.
The cooking style of Clift is strongly influenced by science. In order to accentuate and strengthen flavours, he uses chemical processes with which he experiments in his test kitchen above the restaurant. He also works together with several flavour companies. This gives him the opportunity to discover new technologies and to experiment in their labs. Focus is always on understanding the science behind the food, and using techniques to further increase the taste of the produce.
A large part of the products Clift is using, are flown in from Japan. He is impressed by the attention for detail and the passion for the product and for the environment he finds there. However, he also created a farming company in Singapore. In order to lower his carbon footprint and to contribute to a more sustainable working environment, he created a company, where seven farmers are growing herbs in rooftop gardens across the island.
Do not expect a traditional fine dining experience when you visit Tippling Club. The interior design of the restaurant is very casual. Clift does not want to create a stiff and snobbery environment. In his opinion, people should be able to enjoy the food in a casual atmosphere where they can wear what they want, where they can talk, laugh, or even cry. A restaurant visit is about emotion, and his focus is on what is on the plate and what is in the glass. And that is very obvious when you dine in Tippling Club. Flavours of most of his dishes are strong and leave a lasting impression. The contemporary style, where techniques and science are never far away, works very well. Even though he claims that presentation is not that important and that it is all about the flavours, the plating is clean, original, and modern. Service is not stiff, even rather casual, but correct and attentive.
With Tippling Club, Chef Ryan Clift created one of the best restaurants in Singapore. If you expect the traditional fine dining experience, you will be disappointed. However, visit with an open mind and be ready to be surprised. You will not regret it.
Written by Johan