3.8.15

Saint Pierre

Saint Pierre is going down as one of the best eats of 2015. The venerable French restaurant is fronted by Emmanuel Stroobant, a prolific chef whose shocking-platinium locks and muscular frame are perhaps toasted to as much as his food. I mean, the guy looks like Popeye, just blonder.

Saint Pierre's food is classic, exquisitely crafted and beautifully dished up. We had the Classic Menu ($128), relished over a languid 3 hour dinner that was mind-blowingly flawless, and absolutely smashing. I loved the genuine honesty about Saint Pierre's food, and I think, their philosophy of utilizing not more than 5 flavours is integral to its uncluttered, straightforward appeal, and maintaining the integrity of the produce.

Compared to its former CBD-fringed locale, this Sentosa reincarnation of Saint Pierre has a more relaxed, mellow ambience. Less austere and more accessible (in terms of price points), I feel. (Note there's still a smart casual dress code for dinners) Some say it's become a shadow of its former self, which may explain the lack of a full-house on a Friday night, but I think its reinvigorated menu should bring the long-timer back into the spotlight.

Dinner kicked off on a high note with a trio of Amuse Bouche, sitting pretty in a row.

The grapefruit-sided Chilled Shrimp with seaweed pearls and a fruity jam was clean, crisp and refreshing.

The Salmon Cream stuffed in a sesame-d cone was just scrumptious, the sweetness of the salmon was enlivened by the aromatic black sesame.  

The opulence of the light-as-air Foie Gras Mousse was countered by the wine-soaked maraschino cherry and shaved almonds.

The dramatically presented Crevette Cocktail of poached sweet prawns amid an avocado herbed emulsion, globs of pineapple reduction, and blobs of thousand island ice was inspired, and tasted as good as it looked.

The Classic Foie Gras (supplement $20) pan-fried to a luscious melty perfection, and paired with a piquant caramelized green apple compote, flaky pastry puff, and aged port sauce, walked the fine line between the fruity and sweet and savoury

The Japanese-influenced Cabillaud au Miso, a succulent black cod marinated in white miso and swaddled in a daikon wrap, was served alongside a mushy jade eggplant, kinome rice ball, sauteed spinach and poached shitake, and drenched in a delicate dashi consomme. I love the restrain displayed here.

The Boeuf "36 Heures", fork-tender short ribs painstakingly braised for 36 hours was contrasted against a chewy honeycomb tripe. A smear of pink garlic, pureed green tea, black salt sprinkles, and velvety beef jus lent complementary accents to the sticky honeyed glaze, while charred heirloom carrot, green asparagus, and grenaille potatoes, lent crunch and texture.

Although we were stuffed to the gills, we couldn't resist sampling from the expansive Cheese Trolley (supplement $20).

We got shavings of a delicate nutty mimolette and stronger pungent camembert, paired with fresh honeycomb and table crackers.
The finale was the Chariot de Desserts, a dessert trolley replete with plating service.

A signature, Grandma Stroobant's Famous Flourless Belgian Chocolate Cake, with vanilla ice-cream and creme fraiche lived up to the hype. This was glorious and rich and nuanced.

The Mango Eclair was at once fruity and sweet, served with a mango cheesecake and strawberry sorbet. 

The Salted Caramel, coupled with a chocolate ice-cream, was as decadently sumptuous as you'd expect, but surprisingly finessed, so this was finished without a sugar headache.

No meal at a French restaurant is complete without filling up on bread, and the Sourdough and Walnut Breads were addictively good, especially with that silky fragrant smoked butter.

Saint Pierre has as extensive a wine list I'd ever seen, and what better to pair French food than with a bottle of French red? At the sommelier's recommendation, we got a 2003 Chateau Saint-Pierre ($180), a Bordeaux blend medoc hailing from the Saint-Julien appellation. The smooth plummy notes made this a easy-to-drink wine.



Saint Pierre
Quayside Isle #01-15
31 Ocean Way
Tel: 6438 0887
Open for weekend brunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm;
Dinner daily from 5.30pm to 9.30pm
Website: www.saintpierre.com.sg

2.8.15

FOC Restaurant by Nandu Jubany

A food-loving colleague had told me about FOC, raving about its Catalan cuisine. 

A collaboration between a couple of Michelin starred chefs, FOC is amongst a new wave of hip swanky restaurants revitalizing the once-sleepy Hongkong Street. Inspite its impressive pedigree, I liked that the restaurant has a sense of grounded hospitality, made inviting by the warm gracious staff. I've never met chirpier, or bouncier, wait staff; I swear they were on prozac. For a new-ish restaurant, FOC is already running like a well-oiled establishment. The staff knew the menu inside-out, so they were able to make spot-on recommendations; the arrival of our courses were timely; and our water glasses were kept topped up with big smiles.

As for the Catalan food at FOC, it was indeed superb - traditional but executed with an effortless flair so while dishes seldom deviate from the classics, flavours are rich, hearty and soulful. It's pricey, but no more expensive than any other Spanish restaurants around.

A big plus about FOC: the ridiculous amount of eye candy amongst its ridiculously good-looking stable of chefs. For this reason alone, FOC makes for a brilliant girls' night out. [*mental note to organise any hen's night beginning with dinner here at FOC*] By the way, reserve the counter seats for maximum ogling pleasure at the hotties cooking up a storm. There's one who actually looks like Gerard Pique. Seriously.

A big down-side about FOC: it's like the business-district, night-time version of Tanjong Beach Club on the weekends (think beefcake expats, tanned SPGs and young-girls-sporting-their-sugar-daddy-sponsored-designer-bags). Of course, I hated the crowd. I mean, if the overly tanned, auburn-bleached, long-haired, overtly made-up chick next to us batted her Kim-Kardashian-esque falsies any harder at the chef, the tealights at my end of the counter would have been blown out. And just when my eyes just about rolled off the top of my head, her geisha-looking posse arrived, flirting desperately with their fake, bit-British-bit-American-complete-halfassed accents. 

Our favourite dish was the Heuvos Estrellados con Chorizo ($10), a breakfast hash of fried potatoes, chorizo balls and a just-cracked egg, still sizzling on the hotplate. Smoosh it all together, and you get a glorious mess of runny eggy delight.

The Croquetas de Setas con Jamon ($10 for 4) was a mixed platter of mushroom croquettes and Spanish ham croquettes, bursting with creamy goodness, and tempered with the contrast of the soft mash and crunchy breadcrumbed coat.

One of their recommendations, the Tortilla Abierta con Trufa y Pimientos del Piquillo ($26), an open tortilla with blistered red peppers, truffle strips and aioli was simple but done fantastically. It was just the right balance of rich aioli, aromatic truffle, sweet peppers and eggy pancake.

The Gambas al Ajillo ($18), a classic of sauteed prawns in white wine and garlic, was notable for 2 things: the copious use of really good white wine, which made this the most heady rendition ever - I think I got a little high from this; and incredibly sweet prawns still with shells on, for maximum flavour infusion to the sauce. A tip: get bread to mop all the deliciousness up.

The (Asian) force is strong in this one, the Vieiras a la Brasa con Caldo de Bonito y Caviar de Soja ($16) was a couple of fat succulent scallops grilled to a beautiful caramelization, and dunked into a delicate bonito stock and topped with soy beads.

From the mains, the Costillas de Cerdo a la Brasa con Pure de Calabaza Ahumada ($30) was seriously good, premium iberico pork ribs, burnished with rosemary, were grilled to a juicy smoky finish, and sided by a smoked pumpkin puree.

The Arroz Negro con Mariscos y "All I Oli" ($24) was perhaps the best squid ink paella I've ever had. The moreish squid ink was nuanced and countered with the creamy bite of aioli. You can't quite see it, but there was as much rice as there was squid dice, so that's really amazingly generous. That said, best not order this if you're on a date, the squid ink gets all over your mouth and in-between your teeth. It's really not a pretty sight. BUT, if your date still wants to kiss you after having eaten this, he's a keeper!



FOC by Nandu Jubany
40 Hong Kong Street
Tel: 6100 4040
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 11am to 1am; Closed on Sundays
Website: focrestaurant.com

1.8.15

TWG Tea Salon & Boutique

Did you know that noted luxury tea purveyor TWG also offers confectionery for sale? Their macarons, laced with their exquisite teas, are pretty fantastic. If you like bittersweet flavours, you're likely to love their macarons.

The Macarons ($2 each) are nicely textured, soft but delightfully chewy. From left to right: 1983 Black Tea & Blackcurrant; Matcha; Napoleon Tea & Caramel; Bain de Rose Tea; Grand Wedding Tea, Passionfruit & Coconut (my favourite); and Earl Grey Fortune & Chocolate.


TWG Tea Restaurant
Republic Plaza #01-22
9 Raffles Place
Tel: 6538 1837
Open Mondays to Fridays from 10am to 8pm

28.7.15

The Disgruntled Chef

We stopped by The Disgruntled Chef for desserts after a smoking hot meal at Samy's Curry. The Dempsey-fixture recently refreshed its menu, so I thought it about time for a revisit.

Cheese aficionados will love the Roquefort Magnum ($10), an unexpected but ingenious marriage of the stinky blue cheese with honey and dark chocolate. But like how opposites attract, this icy heady concoction worked!

A mainstay, the Chocolate Fondant ($16) with vanilla ice-cream, was, unfortunately, a smidge overdone, so even the glorious peanut butter laced chocolate goo couldn't quite mask the charred undertones. That said, the lava was sumptuously nuanced, and torched banana brulee excellent.


The Disgruntled Chef
26B Dempsey Road
Tel: 6476 5305
Open Tuesdays to Thursdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Fridays & Saturdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 11.30pm for dinner
Sundays from 12noon to 4.30pm for brunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner
Closed on Mondays
Website: www.disgruntledchef.com

27.7.15

Saint Pierre

Saint Pierre, arguably Singapore's finest French restaurant, has just launched a new brunch menu, featuring the season's best. Located at the balmy Quayside Isle, Saint Pierre is a little slice of nirvana, away from the bustle of town. I can't think of a better place to while away a lazy Sunday afternoon. And, it may surprise you to know that, for a seemingly fancy restaurant, the prices are affordably competitive and ambience is casually breezy. So yes, you can actually walk in bermuda-shorted and sandals-clad. Coupled with the picturesque surrounds, honest-to-goodness food, and exceptional service, this is one hidden gem of a brunch spot.

An off-menu dish, the Smoked Salmon ($18), was a game-changer. I was never a fan of smoked salmon, but the wild Scottish salmon, smoked in-house at Saint Pierre, was sublime. It was impossibly fresh, and cured with just the perfect amount of soot for that salty-sweet balance. The accompanying cream was enlivened with a touch of lemon, and chives. Best smoked salmon I've ever had in my life. Truly a must-try.

The perfectly poached Eggs Benedict ($24), draped in an effervescent champagne hollandaise, and generously layered with glorious ribbons of iberico bellota ham, atop a buttery crusty brioche, was seriously delicious. This took the crown of best eggs benedict from reigning champ Choupinette.

The Poached Eggs with Pulled Braised Duck Leg Confit ($24) with pickled cherry tomatoes and toasted sourdough was another winner. The duck confit was meltingly luscious, made even more sumptuous by the runny egg slobbering all over. The meat-loving Hubs practically inhaled this. 


Saint Pierre
Quayside Isle #01-15
31 Ocean Way
Tel: 6438 0887
Open for weekend brunch from 11.30am to 2.30pm;
Dinner daily from 5.30pm to 9.30pm
Website: www.saintpierre.com.sg

26.7.15

Zest, Conrad Koh Samui

Zest is the in-house buffet restaurant at Conrad Koh Samui. For a resort this remote, it's surprisingly bustling. While the buffet selection was abysmal, the ala minute fare was commendable, and the eggs were far better compared to The Edge.

I liked the fusion of Thai flavours into eggy classics; think spicy curries slopped on poached eggs, so where possible, drench eggs, potatoes, bread, and the like, in any of their curries. It's the magic sauce that makes everything so much better than it was.

The Thai Egg Benedict was our favourite of the lot, with creamy paneang curry slathered over poached eggs with pork floss wedged in-between.

The Eggs Florentine with spinach was nicely done, but a tad heavy on the hollandaise.

From the eggs and pancakes live station...

You get Scrambled Eggs, with peppers, corn and ham; this was also well done, fluffy and moist.

The Omelette, with all the fixings - peppers, cheese, and ham.

Eggs Sunny Side, fittingly runny.

Waffle - drizzled with excellent maple syrup

Pancake - dusted with icing sugar and zigzagged with chocolate sauce

Noodles Live Station

The bao-ga-liao version, with cabbage, meatballs, sliced pork and minced pork, dunked in a lovely robust broth.

The curated minced pork balls and kailan version

Porridge - give this bland blend a miss

Green curry chicken - punchy and heady, fantastic stuff

Stir-fried pork with peppers and steamed white rice - despite its mussed-up look, it had a homecooked appeal

Rosti - ask for this to be freshly made, it's much better than what's left out in the buffet

Bread and pastries - mostly mediocre, save for the somewhat passable fruit danishes

Charcuterie - generic turkey ham and pork bolongna

Salami and Chicken Bolongna

Pass on the cheese (cheddar, edam, emmental) platter too, these weren't very good. Or they'd been left out too long.

Roasted ham and bacon - pedestrian

Pork sausages - love its chunky texture and beautiful charring

Sushi hors d'oeuvres - unimpressive

Mackerel in tomato sauce- cause of death: drowning by mayo

Fruit salsas and compotes, muesli and yoghurt with a selection of luxury olive oils and flavoured salts

Salad station - unremarkable

Fruit Juices- freshly squeezed and scrumptious

The small-ish but sunlit restaurant interiors, the tables facing the floor-to-ceiling glass panels are the best in the house

Alfresco-lovers who appreciate being tanned while at breakfast would probably prefer these tables on the outdoor terrace instead.



Zest
Conrad Koh Samui
Open daily from 6pm to 11pm
Website
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