“We opened a restaurant, because we were kids with ADD – we can’t just fucking sit still,’’ says Bjorn Shen, who is the owner of Artichoke.
Artichoke opened first in 2010 and has since become one of Singapore favourite café restaurants. Located on Middle Road, Artichoke enjoys a cosy central location.
What is Artichoke?
“We have to mess with it. We have to keep changing things up.” Owner Bjorn Shen makes it very clear that passionate and creative people operate Artichoke.
“I like the challenge. No one else was messing about with Middle Eastern food.” Trying something new, Artichoke managed to revive traditional food and offer it to a new audience. Sitting down for a meal on any given evening, one will meet young and old from all walks of life. While the interest in Middle Eastern food was rather limited before the arrival of Artichoke, today the demand has grown drastically.
Trying to pinpoint what Artichoke really represents, owner Bjorn Shen knows what they stand for. “Artisanal, Middle Eastern new food – that is Artichoke. It probably sounds like over the top, but referencing Middle Eastern food, using artisanal ingredients.”
When it comes to food Artichoke offers a wide variety of delicacies. No matter whether you are a meat lover or vegetarian, the creative menu provides for anyone equally well – ranging from the signature Artichoke Fried Chicken and the Lamb Shakshouka to Garlic Broccoli Salad and Housemade Feta Burrata. However, one will, of course, also find freshly made Hummus, Babaganoush, and Tzatziki spreads.
A Home for Fun
“We threw away all constraints,” says Bjorn Shen. “We never wanted to create a traditional atmosphere. We are that sorts of loud, boisterous kind of place. It’s a fun place to work at. It’s a fun place to come to.” Artichoke doesn’t pretend to be a Middle Eastern restaurant, using quirky unauthentic décor.
Artichoke is most of all a social place. The lively atmosphere is undeniable. Walking into Artichoke’s courtyard, one is immediately greeted by a certain vibe. Hidden from the streets and the noise of the city, the cosy and open space is extremely inviting, making it easy to settle for the evening.
Although Singapore’s dining scene is evolving rapidly and changing constantly with new trends emerging every other month, Artichoke aims to stay true to itself and what they represent. “We know who we are and we are not going to change that.”
When going up and down the delicious menu of Artichoke, it is easy to get overly excited. However, before indulging on too many starters, you really should keep some space for some of their wonderful signature desserts. A simple but impressive choice is the Neh Neh Pop, which comes in different flavours and with various creative toppings, such as strawberry ripple or even mango sticky rice.