Back in the 90's, where fine-dining French restaurants were a rarity, Les Amis, the pre-eminent trailblazer in the local F&B arena, brought a certain je ne sais quoi with its slick, polished approach to French cuisine. Since then, the grandfather of French fine-dining has had an illustrious 20-year history. Like a fine vintage that ages beautifully, Les Amis has managed to stay on top of the game, even with heavy competition from the many Michelin-starred chef-led restaurants.
We recently had the 5-course Menu Découverte ($95) and the 6-course Menu Épicurien ($125) for lunch, and found the Japanese-influenced food absolutely smashing. There was such a refined symmetry and harmonized composition in the flavours.
Fantastic food aside, the service was terribly disappointing. Thing is, I used to love the service at Les Amis. Maybe it was because I was always with towkay-type regulars. This time, though, it was different. While the junior waitstaff were all smiles and exuded genuine warmth, the senior ones hid their snobbery beneath a stiff veneer of chilly professionalism. I know they're capable of warmth; they were talking up a couple of middle aged-types like old chums, but, in stark contrast to us and other customers, emanated frost, so the blatant favouritism was acutely felt. It seemed, to me, that the Les Amis service protocol has different standards for ostensibly different classes of patrons. To exacerbate matters, my coffee never arrived! The waiter had asked me for my preference for coffee or tea, but neglected to return with my coffee. This, for one of the bastions of fine dining in Singapore, is unpardonable. Sushi Ichi, where we dined that very same night, was so much more personable.
Menu Épicurien, Pour Le Déjeuner (Lunch Epicurean Menu)
Caviar en duo avec des cheveux d’anges glacées au vinaigre de Xérès; a gorgeous bundle of refreshingly chilled angel hair
dressed in truffle oil and sherry vinegar, was finished with Osciétra caviar for a burst of intense brininess.
Foie Gras de Canard glacé au sésame japonais; a custardy smooth pan-seared foie gras
was glazed with toasted Japanese sesame seeds, drizzled with Goma sauce and sided by a bold grapefruit
apple compote. This was accompanied by a wonderfully delicate dashi broth.
Langoustine de Cornouaille, servit croustillante, salade folichonne; a
plump cornouaille langoustine swaddled in a crisp pastry sheet was balanced with a folichonne side salad
studded with seaweed and anchovies.
The Le Bar de Ligne des
côtes bretonnes, sauce caviar; was a moist, flaky line-caught seabass from the Brittany coast crested with caviar, crispy leeks, and a luscious fish bone sauce.
Boeuf du Filet de boeuf de Omi, maturé à point et grillé, aromates et
asperge, jus de viande & léger voile de miso blanc;
was a meltingly delicious grilled dry-aged Omi beef tenderloin with
white asparagus, edible shiso flower, bitter herbs, capers, mixed
bell peppers, shallots, garlic and onion chips, tempura chip, and an opulent miso emulsion.
To finish, the Crumble de Pomme verte glacée, crème brûlée au calvados; an icy Granny Smith apple crumble was juxtaposed with a warm Calvados apple brandy crème brûlée.
Menu Découverte, Pour Le Déjeuner (Lunch Discovery Menu)
I don't like foie gras terrines, so I swopped out the Le Foie Gras option with a pair of succulent Garlic Butter Scallops, done teppanyaki-style, and adorned with a fried shiso flower.
The La Creme D’Huitres aux pointes d’asperge verte; was a velvety egg yolk cream emulsion freckled with fat Brittany oysters, ikura, and grilled green asparagus.
The Crabe de Mer épicée aux aromates; was a sweet Japanese snow crab spiced with an array of seasonal aromatic vegetables, asparagus and carrot confit, and pooled with an aromatic orange earl grey reduction.
The Sakura Ebi sur des cheveux d’anges, piments doux d’Espelette et touche de parmesan; al dente angel hair pasta dotted generously with lobster dice, crispy sakura ebi and parmesan shavings.
The Le Fruit de la Passion dans un soufflé chaud, glace à la noix de coco; was a light-as-air purple passion fruit soufflé served with a young coconut milk sorbet.
To finish, we had a couple of complimentary Lemon Madeleines, gloriously buttery, perfectly dense and moist.
No French meal is complete without bread, and Les Amis' Bread Basket of Cranberry Walnut bread, Sourdough, Cheese Buns, and Mini Baguette was a home-run, totally awesome and a recommended must-eat (yes, I'm talking to you Atkin-dieters). These were lovely smeared with the famed Normandy Bordier butter and sea salt.
1 Scotts Road #01-16
Tel: 6733 2225
Open Mondays to Saturdays from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch; 7pm to 10pm for dinner;