Update November 2015: The restaurant has closed down, and replaced by Folks Collective.
Friends know that I generally stay away from any new restaurant, until after its first year of operations. By then, the so-popular-have-to-make-reservations-one-month-in-advance crowds would have dissipated, and the restaurant would have ironed out any kinks in service and food. However, I broke my visit-a-restaurant-only-after-passing-first-year-survival-test for La Cantine, the newly opened three-Michellin starred Bruno Menard's second foray into our local shores (the first being &Made). I think it was really because the restaurant's within easy walking distance from my office, which made it a really convenient spot for October's L.A. Lunch.
For a restaurant that's just opened in September, I was surprised by how much they've got their act together. Service was unbelievably smooth, genuinely friendly, efficient, and worked seamlessly like a well-oiled machine. And, despite our large lunch group of 20, the food was churned out really quickly.
We ALL loved the food (yes, even the fuss-pot Professor gave his stamp of approval). For a set lunch (it changes daily depending on whatever's available in the market to ensure freshness) that only cost $39++, we were all stuffed and left with satisfied, sated bellies. Possibly the most value-for-money set lunches around, boasting both quality and quantity.
I'm glad I broke my visit-a-restaurant-only-after-passing-first-year-survival-test for this. It was truly a pleasure to witness, first-hand, the early days and making of a success story that is La Cantine. If this is what it can do in its early days, just imagine what they can do in the future, given the benefit of time and experience.
We kicked off lunch with a teacup of Asparagus Gazpacho & Shrimp Tartar, thick and smooth in consistency, refreshing with a crisp finish.
The Roasted Pork Collar was awesome, tender and moist and meaty and flavoursome, slathered in a creamy mustard pickle sauce that was enlivened by arugula and baby parsley. I appreciated that this was portioned just perfectly, generous enough to not feel cheated but not too big that you'd be too full to walk back to the office.
The other option of a Cod with Potatoes was delicate, an exercise in restrain. A creamy, plain-ish sauce dressed the potatoes and cod chunks, while paprika and peppery arugula lent spice to the dish.
The Truffle Macaroni was the best part of lunch. Al dente pasta, with just the right balance of creamy and cheesy, was dressed with truffle oil/salt and parmesan and served in a tiny ramekin. If the pork wasn't filling enough, this would certainly do the trick.
The trio of desserts were delicious as well, from right to left, Vanilla Creme Brulee, soft Chocolate Macaron, Petit Pot with lemon jelly, vanilla espuma & blood orange sorbet. If I had to choose, my vote has got to go to the petit pot. A refreshingly light confection that blended sour, sweet and creamy elements really well.
The Bread Basket with crusty banana-infused (more like banana-scented..we could smell it but not taste it) baguette, refillable, and complimentary of course.
#01-01 Asia Square Tower 1
8 Marina View
Tel: 6690 7567
Open weekdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 6pm to 9.30pm for dinner
Saturdays for private bookings only
Closed on Sundays