Lewin Terrace has been on my to-eat list ever since Vin's lovely wedding at the picturesque location a year ago. Once the home of the fire chief during the colonial era, the historic black-and-white house has been conserved and now serves as a dining premises. Nestled amongst lush greenery at the foot of Fort Canning Hill, the restaurant is romantic and serene and gorgeous. But that's where the superlatives end.
The fusion Japanese-French cuisine at Lewin Terrace is a mixed bag of hits and misses. There was some refinement, and the plating was top-notch, but the execution came across as clunky at times. And where the food was supposed to be harmonious and seamless, we struggled to see the symmetry. Overall, the meal easily passed muster, but it was unremarkable.
Also, the service was well-meaning and gracious, but needed more polish. Our waiter could barely muck out the memorized descriptions of the dishes, we almost felt bad for him. The timing of the dishes, too, was unwieldy, and a good number of our dishes arrived tepid, when we would have preferred them piping hot.
The 4-Course Lunch Tasting Menu ($78), started off with a chilled gazpacho of sorts, the Prawn & Squid Marine, strewn with Japanese radish, and a blob of golden dashi jelly. Refreshing, with clean and clear flavours.
The highlight was the Seabream, plump and infused with prawn butter, and sided by a par-boiled Japanese choy sum, borlotti beans, and spring pea puree. Best dish of lunch.
The third course was a fork-tender Wagyu Beef Cheek Stew, swimming in a red wine gravy flecked with carrots, beetroot, cabbage, lentils, and pickled radish squares. Nice, but I've had better.
I thought the smooth-as-a-baby's-bottom Soy Flan, served with vanilla ice-cream, caramel, sweet corn and biscuit crumbs, was the best dessert of the various menus.
The 5-Course Omotenashi ($118) looked better on paper, but paled in comparison to the 4-course menu. The entree of Smoked French Duck Breast, shitake, spring bamboo, and green chilli was served chilled, but would have been more well-received if it was warmed instead.
The Hokkaido Hairy Crab blanketing the avocado chawanmushi, was spiked with smoked paprika for a subtle heat, while chrysanthemum petals lent a soft floral fragrance. This was stellar, and one of the best offerings here.
A side of Parmesan Puffs was a chewy and flavoursome nibbler.
The Sauteed Sakura Seabream, plastered with sakura prawn crisps, was lackluster. The prawns drew attention to the fishy notes of the fillet. I liked the asparagus swaddled in filo, as well as the spring green sprouts, and thick pea puree. The fish option in the 4-course was markedly better.
The Tiger Beer Wagyu Beef Brisket, burnished with cristal potato films, and a drizzle of dry figs and apricot sauce, was melt-in-your-mouth, but stodgy.
The Chitose Strawberry Meringue, with blanc mange, and abutted by martinique syrup, was pretty but unexceptional.
The Vegetarian 4-Course ($78) kicked off with a beautifully crunchy Red Cabbage & Beetroot Slaw, bestrewn with violet flowers, and mesclun leaves.
The Tomato Garlic Cheese Spaghetti with baby corn, mushrooms, broccoli, was commendable.
The Black Sesame Tofu Steak crusted with portobello, with roasted brussels sprouts, broccoli, sugar snap pea, and Japanese yam, and carrot puree, was inspired and delicious.
For dessert, the Raspberry Sorbet & Fresh Fruits of strawberries, blueberries, orange, raspberry, and sweet melons, made a simple and nice finisher.
A robust Latte for the coffee/tea course to round off the lunch.
The complimentary Bread, warmed atop hot stones in burlap pouches, and served with a miso-yuzu coulis and soya butter, was delicious. Very very good confectionery here.
21 Lewin Terrace
Fort Canning Park
Tel: 6333 9905
Open Tuesdays to Sundays from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6.30pm to 11pm for dinner;
Closed on Mondays