In Short: Cavalier 2.0 is an innovative dining experience. There are items in there that are familiar favourites but most of the items in the menu have what I now like to call a “Harry Twist”, where owner Harry Kolotas has made his own interpretation of a traditional dish, and increasing the level of deliciousness. The vibe is casual and friendly, making this a perfect dining location for all occasions, business and pleasure included.
Usually when something is referred to as version 2.0, it usually means that it’s the new and improved from the previous instance. In the case of Cavalier 2.0, this is especially true. As you can tell from our previous review, we at Coco and Vine were already a huge fan of the original Cavalier. But with Cavalier 2.0, we are even more excited and looked forward to doing a review of both the new food offerings and its brand spanking new laneway premise.
While there is not much of a view of the outside, the inside of the bistro is a beautiful spacious outfit that makes you feel like you have been transported to a whole different world once you step inside. There is so much to love about the deco of the place, from the wooden feature against the white wall, to the spacious brown sofa that is so comfortable and aesthetically beautiful. My favourite item though is the giraffe statue, quietly sitting in the corner of the space, but is immeidiately visible once you walk into the restaurant. It is such a conversation piece and an indication of the many surprises that comes with dining at Cavalier 2.0.
The kitchen is so spacious and inspiring, with the eclectic multicolored pastel tiles on the kitchen wall and the intriguing array of jars of pickled items, that’s stand in an overhead shelf over the kitchen front. With each item nicely labeled, dated and identified, it is no wonder that the people here is inspired to come up with new food items based on the house pickled items.
From the old menu, Cavalier 2.0 has carried over some of the classics, like the cheeky jaffle, which was one of my favourites from the previous menu as well. But it’s the new items that hads us excited.
When I first saw the menu, I was not able to decide on what I felt like eating. But while chatting with co-owner Harry Kolotas and co-partner Sara (who also happens to be his wife!) at the front counter, I noticed that he had 2 blackened heads of cauliflowers, cooling on the top of his oven. I was so intrigued by it that I decided there and then, that’s what I was having on this visit, the Roasted Cauliflower with ranch dressing, yumai and pickled cabbage. I don’t even usually like cauliflower, but if anyone would be able to make a cauliflower convert out of me, it would be Harry! When my lunch was served, what first struck me was the way that it was displayed. The blacken cauliflower that I saw earlier is now cut up and served in an interesting bowl, with the contrasting colours of greens from the vegetable, and white from the pickled cabbage and ranch dressing. The hero of the dish though is definitely the cauliflower. The flavours that Harry managed to pack into the simple cauliflower is amazing. The most prominent and familiar flavour for me, is the kecap manis or sweet soy sauce. So that’s how he got it to be blacken, caramelized, sweet and savoury all at the same time. The strong flavours from the kecap manis is then mellowed by the creamy ranch dressing and vinegary flavours from the pickled cabbage. If this is how cauliflower is meant to taste like, I am having this every day for every meal !
The other dish that is a standout at Cavalier 2.0 is their 18-hour beef cheek, served with capsicum, almond and ong choy. The flavour of the beef cheek is rich, meaty and oh so tender. Harry also got the portion correct, which means that the portion of the beef cheek was a sufficient size for lunch, and leaves a tiny space for sweet endings. When I first saw the word ong choy, I was quite surprised that a vegetable that usually appears in Asian cuisines is showing up here, in Cavalier 2.0’s menu. Ong Choy is the Cantonese word for water spinach. It is also commonly referred to as eng chai or kang kong as well, and in Singapore, it is commonly and simply fried with a sambal belacan paste, one of mine and Coco and Viner Sacha’s all-time favourite vegetables dishes. I was really surprised to see it make an appearance here next to a more western dish of braised beef cheek. But It really works, because the vegetable is easy to prepare and because of its hollow stem, it has an amazing ability to soak up a lot of flavours from the sauces that it has been cooked with. Besides its vivid green colour, it also has a crunchy texture, which is a great contrast to the dark brown soft beef cheeks and sauce. The other highlight of this dish is the little mustard seeds that has been pickled for 9 months, probably in one of the many pickle jars that Harry has on display in the restaurant. They sit like delicate brown jewels on top of the dish and makes the dish so fun to eat as you try to pop each little bead of the seed in your mouth and be greeted with a flavour explosion as you do that. Very innovative dish and delicious to the core.
No meal for me would be complete without dessert. There is a good selection of pastry and sweets at the front but there is only 1 dessert that is mentioned in the menu and that is the Tiramisu 2.0, which makes this a must-try item. Just like the traditional tiramisu, this one is made with mascarpone cheese and the coffee flavours is derived from coffee made with Marvell Street Roasters coffee beans. However this is where the similarity ends, as this tiramisu is light, airy and chocolaty, without the heavy cakey aftermath, making it the perfect light and sweet way to end a meal without feeling like you have over indulged. This is one of the best tiramisu I have eaten and is a definitely must-try at Cavalier 2.0.
To chase down a delicious dessert, I sampled a flat white. Coffee form has not waned in any sense and I really enjoyed the blend from Marvell St Roasters. I left the milk chocolate and caramel notes. Precise milk work ensured a silky smooth texture and made for pleasant drinking.
In the IT world we talk about iterative processes to improve quality. Similarly, with Cavalier 2.0, the next iteration has seen Cavalier evolve from specialty café to a bistro/restaurant. It is with so much love and pride that Harry finally has the space and resources to fully showcase his skills. and to be able to do it with his partner in life as well, is perhaps the best icing on top of the cake. We are privileged to have seen Cavalier’s evolution from the original Cavalier to the now Cavalier 2.0 and can’t wait to see where this culinary journey goes from here.