When I first heard that Liberty Private Works had closed, I was pretty taken aback, since this had been one of my all-time favourite restaurants and one I had recommended countless times to people looking for a special dining experience. Thankfully it wasn’t a complete closure, but rather a renovation, reopening under the name Twenty Six by Liberty.
Under the new name, the restaurant is still owned by the same group as before, yet it is now led by Michelin-starred Chef Bjoern Alexander, formerly at Whisk at The Mira. Chef Bjoern brings with him his own personality and Taoist philosophy, both of which are reflected in both the décor and cuisine.
Located on the 26th floor and seating only 26 people (hence the name), Twenty Six by Liberty offers an urban, loft-like ambience with floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the city and hand-painted murals on exposed brick columns. The three pillars of Taoism – reality, universe and life – are displayed in neon lights above the lifts.
One of the things I always enjoyed at LPW was the interaction between the chefs and diners, allowing the diners to watch as each dish was put together right in front of them. This is still the case at Twenty Six – there is only a countertop separating the diner from Chef Bjoern and his team, so you can watch in awe as each plate becomes a work of edible art.
The 10-course tasting menu also reflects Chef Bjoern’s philosophy. The menu we tried is inspired by the life of a tree, divided into ‘young sprouts’ (starters), ‘branches’ (mains) and ‘roots’ (desserts).
After a beautiful amuse bouche of scallop carpaccio on a black rice cracker, the first of the ‘young sprouts’ was manioc (or cassava), prepared two ways. The first of the two presentations involved shredded and fried manioc served with mushrooms, chilli and crumbled truffle, creating a beautiful medley of textures and subtle, earthy flavours. The second part of this dish came as little balls of deep-fried manioc, presented on a manioc tuber. Again, there were lovely textures and flavours at play here, setting the bar high for the rest of the meal.
To follow, came a stunning boxed garden of oysters and seaweed. We were advised to first eat the ‘salty finger’ (a type of seaweed) and chase it with the oyster, which came marinated in coconut milk. The combination of salty versus sweet flavours was incredibly interesting.
The octopus that followed was another creative dish served with salted egg yolk, dehydrated coconut and deep-fried tapioca that resembled octopus tentacles. Perhaps my favourite of the starters was the potato, served with caviar, yoghurt and dill. Despite being deep-fried, these little balls of potato were not heavy in the slightest and had this gorgeous clean and satisfying flavour.
Moving onto ‘the branches’, the avocado consisted of a burnt avocado shell that was not designed to be eaten, covering a delicious concoction of salmon roe, puffed millet and viola flowers with a sprinkling of curry powder.
We watched in excitement as Chef Bjoern blowtorched a langoustine beautifully arranged on a stone, with a rosemary stalk as a skewer, and then topped it with pickled rose petals and anise flowers. It was just as exciting to eat!
The last two main courses were both equally as impressive. The crispy pork with black garlic and chilli was heavenly, offering an amazing balance of salt and sweet with a satisfying hint of chilli. The kobe cheek, meanwhile was melt-in-the-mouth tender, having been slow-cooked for 72 hours, and paired beautifully with the beetroot (prepared in multiple ways) and the jalapeño paste – I loved how Chef Bjoern wasn’t afraid to add chilli to his dishes.
Finishing with ‘the roots’, the first of the desserts was the hazelnut with eggplant, a gorgeous medley of aubergine, hazelnut purée, marshmallow and meringue that was lovely and light, although a little too sweet for me.
I much preferred the krapfen, which were little German doughnut balls, sprinkled in icing sugar and served with an incredible rum raisin sauce and matcha powder, which altogether created a lovely end to a stellar meal.
A ten-course tasting menu at Twenty Six by Liberty is priced at $900, with an optional $550 add-on for wine pairing. The menu as a whole changes every two months, yet the presentation and cooking techniques within each dish may change daily, depending on what Chef Bjoern feels like doing. I can imagine this keeps his poor sous chefs constantly on their toes
I was very impressed with Chef Bjoern’s menu and, since the dishes were all pretty clean and light, I didn’t leave with that uncomfortably full feeling in my stomach. I was pleased to see that Twenty Six by Liberty was just as good, if not better, than Liberty Private Works and I will continue to recommend this place to anyone looking to celebrate a special occasion, or just to enjoy a faultless and delicious meal that’s about more than just good food.
Twenty Six by Liberty
26/F, Stanley 11
11 Stanley Street
Tel: +852 5186 3282
Open for dinner only Monday to Saturday.