We ordered a set lunch, which offers a very interesting menu, priced at only $58++ per person for 3 courses, including a bottle of water. As a matter of fact, on the day I was served 5 courses as 2 complimentary dishes were served by the Chef.
We were first served an elegant version of assorted bread sticks with squid ink and Parmesan cheese. These were accompanied by butter and olive oil. They had an interesting texture and the Parmesan ones in particular were crispy and flavoursome.
Next, we were served our starters. That's when it became obvious that chef André has mastered the artistic skills of food presentation. The Panache De Fruit De Mer was not only stunning to look at, with its composition of vivid colours and assorted textures. It was described as a "Panaché of seafood in multi textures, toasted brioche and potatoes, tapenade de Provence". I felt like I was feeding from a Miro' painting. Every single element positioned on that plate was of superb quality in terms of texture, flavour, and it perfectly combined with the sauce. The mini calamari and salmon were of particular interest.
The second starter we ordered was a Tartine De Tourteau Effiloche, a "Citrus scented stone crab effiloché on Ratte potato confit and fresh herbs with Lukewarm potato mousse". This was presented on a large and beautiful plate, with the potato mousse in the middle of it, and the crab scattered around the plate. I was impressed by how the subtle flavour of the crab was brought out and combined with the rest of the ingredients. The 4th piece was actually a fish tartare, once again creating a contrasting but well paired flavour that added further depth to the dish.
We were then offered a complimentary dish. A seared tuna toro on tartare and potato. I am a big fan of toro in its rawest form. This dish actually served it in a fusion version, almost like a French Nigiri. The toro was served crossing the potato, which reminded of the rice base of a nigiri sushi. In between the two, a layer of fish tartare to provide a subtle level of acidity, and a basil sauce at the bottom to smoothen the texture of the roasted potato.
Such a delicacy deserves two views. Beauty on a plate.
It was with our great pleasure that we were then served yet another complimentary dish! Unfortunately, I have no record of its official name as it was verbally announced, but I would describe it as a Foie Gras jelly topped chawanmushi. An egg custard topped with a jelly with an intense flavour of foie gras, enriched by a subtle but distinct aroma of truffles. This is an apparently simple dish that can easily go wrong. It was absolute perfection. Well dosed, brilliantly balanced flavours, elegantly presented in a coffee cup! Quite a statement.
With such an escalation of beautiful presented dishes, I was looking forward to the moment I would be staring, photographing and eating my main course. My Macaroni De Boeuf, a "Thirty-six hour braised short rib, duxelle macaroni and crispy vitelotte chips and shallots", proved again an incredible attention to detail with a display of vivid, seasonal colours, shapes and textures. I would suppose that Chef André has been influenced by the most prominent French modern art in order to come up with such delightful arrangements.
I started by tasting the macaroni, filled with an aromatic cream of black mushrooms.
Gently poking the beef with my fork was sufficient to break it down into succulent layers of juicy meat. The long stewing process melted the fad throughout the beef, making it absolutely tender and penetrating the flavours. The sauce is also the result of a long and elaborate process that successfully brought out the flavour of the meat. I found the clove of garlic carefully positioned on top of the meat of particular interest. This must have been slowly roasted in its own skin for a very long time in order to achieve such a result. I could easily squeeze out the pulp by gently pushing with the side of the knife. The offensive flavour of the garlic was totally removed from the pureé, which worked particularly well with the meat. This is a classic example of how such basic ingredients can be prepared with simplicity and combined to create more complexity of flavour and textures.
The Joue De Kurobuta Grille, a "Char-grilled Kurobuta cheek and romaine, caramelized baby onion and smoked basil oil" was our second choice. The slices of pork were lightly flavoured, but balanced by the sweetness of the baby onions and the texture of crispy bacon sticks and a soft potato puree' enriched by thin juliennes of zucchini and a crumble on the side. Overall, I personally preferred the beef between the two mains, due to the tenderness of the meat and the uniqueness of the mushroom filled macaroni.
I chose a Chocolat as my dessert: a "Classic Ngyanbo chocolate palet, Tahiti vanilla ice cream “à la minute”". Once again, a three-dimensional painting, a sculpture that I would have probably left untouched if it wasn't that it's meant to be eaten! A mildly sweetened block of chocolate ganache with an inner layer of crunchiness and an outer dark chocolate skin, cleverly pierced by thin, crispy wafers, accompanied by a clear scoop of pure vanilla ice cream sitting on a variety of crumbles and nuts. The amount was perfectly calibrated to maintain interest throughout the dish, leaving me with a feeling of enjoyment and satisfaction until the end.
Finally, a dessert that had me puzzle since I first read through the menu: the Snickers. You would find it quite paradoxical to see such a name on a menu of this sort... the description simply states "Snickers bar version 2009", which left me with an even bigger enigma. This is obviously a snickers-inspired dessert, which is nothing like the well known version. A soft ball of chocolate is filled with contrasting textures just like the commercial version of this snack. Dusted with a fine crumble and decorated with bits of caramel jelly... Honestly, I could have had a few more of these. It's such a playful but elegant dessert, that any chocolate lover would appreciate without a doubt. Once again, the selection of the tableware and the composition were outstanding.
The bill for 2 people, including the complimentary dishes and a bottle of sparkling water, was only $136 in total. The staff were kind, attentive, unintrusive, and they had good knowledge of the menu.
When a stunning restaurant venue is complemented by an impeccable service, artistically beautiful and mouthwatering food, I can only be enthusiastic and return. I hope that the Singaporean dining crowd will have the culinary maturity to sustain excellence and reward it as it deserves. Having been to a number of French and fusion restaurants in Singapore, ranging from Saint Pierre to Iggy's, this is the first time I can say with confidence that if I was a food critique, I would not hesitate to award this place with a well deserved Michelin star.
This restaurant was also reviewed by a fellow blogger here, and also by Chubby Hubby.
Location: 70th floor Swissotel the Stamford
Telephone: +65 6837 3322