Novus Restaurant II – Avant Garde Contemporary European Cuisine

30 07 2011

*This tasting was paid for by Novus Restaurant

Summer hols. A time for work and a time for play. It has always given me ambivalent feelings. I had always wondered what was it’s purpose exactly? To give undergrads the opportunity to toil away doing internships to boost their CV, or simply a few months break before racing for that elusive illustrious GPA once again? It has always been a compromise, the use of one’s time.

For some friends I know from the SMU Gourmet Club, they have struck a fine balance between both, embarking on a project to publish a food guide during this summer hols, where work meets play. It might sound simple but really, it’s no mean feat, from literally walking the grounds to filter out restaurants to be covered, to getting sponsorships and writing reviews. Having spent most of summer overseas, I was eager to get back and lend a helping hand.

One of the places we are going to cover in our food guide is Novus Restaurant, a fine dining eatery located in the National Museum of Singapore, just opposite the SMU School of Economics and Social Sciences.

Specializing in avant garde Contemporary European cuisine, the absence of the same boring ubiquitous European dishes in Novus’s menu comes as a breath of fresh air and is sure to leave one tingling with anticipation of what’s to come next. A fine dining restaurant with a modern chic interior, Novus’s 2-Course and 3-Course set lunches are priced reasonably at $32 and $40 respectively, a small price to pay for mind-blowing novelty.

Novus bakes their own bread. Kudos to that.

For our complimentary amuse bouche, we were treated to a cooling drink of Beetroot and Ginger with Creme Fraiche.

My favourite starter is the umami-rich and hearty Duck Tea, a clear consommé chocked full of enoki mushrooms, smoked duck breast, quail egg and truffles. This western take of our chinese Bak Kut Teh is great when you are having a hangover.

While Parma Ham is more commonly found in many Singapore restaurants, Novus’s executive chef Stephan Zoisl believes that it is the Joselito Iberico Ham which is the best meat product around the world, as it is aged for 4 years to attain a truly umami flavour. Served with assorted olives, char-grilled capsicum, toasted bread and gazpacho, lovers of Portuguese and Spanish cuisine will definitely take a fancy to this dish.

I’m a fan of all things raw, with no exception to the Black Angus Carpaccio. The raw beef is thinly sliced and sprinkled with summer truffle, truffle scented buffalo mozzarella, chives and topped with a poached egg.

Another appetizer that stood well with me was the Foie Gras Anglaise, but well, I’m a sucker for anything foie gras. It’s served as a custard, like a western chawanmushi, made with duck consomme, goose liver parfait, ginko nuts, truffle, stuffed morels, duck confit, and slices of foie gras that had been previously cooked sous vide style before being pan seared and then incorporated within the custard.

For mains, the Boneless Crisp Duck Confit  is served with organic Quinoa (a grain like crop grown mainly for its edible seeds), black summer truffle, leek, baby spinach and baby turnip. However, I felt the meat was on the tough side and the skin could be slightly more crispy.

Compared to the duck, I much preferred the Snow Cod & Zucchini Flower. Covered in sliced zucchini arranged like scales of a fish, the pretty looking cod cooked in a sous vide style had been only lightly seasoned, allowed its natural flavours to be accentuated. The Zucchini flower served alongside the cod was stuffed with aubergine, tomato and char-grilled capsicum, tasting much like salsa.

Chef Stephan has free reign in the kitchen in naming and experimenting on new dishes, always ensuring his cuisine remains playful and fresh. The Black Angus Beef Meets Black Summer Truffle is a clear indication of his playful wordplay, where black angus tenderloin meets wild mushroom duxelles, black summer truffles, rocket cress and a side of triple cooked fries. The beef is pretty standard stuff, but what enthralled me was the fries. Its preparation is no simple task. The potatoes are first rinsed in cold water, boiled till soft and chilled, then fried to attain a crisp outer crust and chilled a second time. When ordered, it is then deep fried at high temperature to finish. I’m not sure if some truffle oil was used in the deep frying or was the earthly flavour a result of being fried twice, but this is possibly the best fries I have ever sunk my teeth in, with contrasting textures between the crisp outer shell and mashy inner flesh.

My personal favourite dish here however, is their signature Valrhona Chocolate Test, comprising tasting portions of 5 chocolate desserts, namely mousse (38% cocoa), soufflé (55% cocoa), crème anglaise (66% cocoa), truffle (72% cocoa) and sorbet (85% cocoa). It’s best savoured according to the increasing cocoa contents, which effectively minimizes the risk of any high-cocoa desserts from becoming too cloying.

We managed to sample 2 new additions to their dessert menu as well. The Snowball & White Peach Sorbet was a crisp snow ball Meringue stuffed with Pistachio Ice Cream, served atop white peach sorbet and shreds of pomello fruit.

The other new addition was the Verrine of Nectarine, Green Tea & Sauternes, which is daintily served in clear glass, showcasing the multiple colourful layers of sauterne jelly at the base, green tea panna cotta in the middle and nectarine espuma (espuma means foam) at the top, with a blob of vanilla ice cream just lazing away atop a thin biscotti.

Credits to S for taking most of the pictures 🙂

And thanks to Novus for sponsoring this meal for SMU Gourmet Club’s summer publication!

Bon Appetit!

Novus

93 Stamford Road, #01-02 National Museum of Singapore

Tel: +65 6336 8770





[Vancouver] Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar – The Food Orgasm

11 07 2011

Summer School came and went in the blink in an eye and despite spending the most carefree days of my life here in Vancouver, I had been left high and dry in my pursuit for yumyums due to the packed schedule and inertia to travel too far off campus. And as a result of gastronomic imbalances, I found myself a victim of my cyclical PMS (Peter Mood Swings) towards the end of the month.

It starts at Phase 1: The Guilt Trip. That occurs after a flurry of heavy consumer spending, be it on food or shopping. One feels utterly guilty and decides to hold off the splurging temporarily, eating economic rice and at home, forefeiting restaurant meals.

In Phase 2: The Mount of Annoyance, one feels increasingly annoyed because of the absence of nice meals. Economic rice starts to get really monotonous.

This annoyance comes to a climax in Phase 3: Deprivation and Frustration. Some time has passed since the period of excessive spending and one is ready to go out for a posh meal. However, one finds it hard to do so given one’s (or one’s meal buddies) hectic schedules, leading to deprivation. Alternatively, some hyped up meals turned out disappointing, leading to frustration.

In Phase 4: The Food Orgasm, a meal finally hits the spot, but the hefty price tag brings you back to Phase 1: The Guilt Trip.

I haven’t really been having really great food during this Vancouver trip, so dinner here at Blue Water Cafe was definitely Phase 4 for me.

The PMS (Peter Mood Swings) Cycle

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar specializes in seafood, which is prepared in a “east meets west” fusion nature. The ambience is classy, though no compulsory dress-code is enforced.

To diversify their risks as first time diners here, R and Nana opted for the BC Tasting for 2, comprising tasting portions of 4 appetizers (Dungeness Crab Salad, Scallop Ceviche, Tuna Tatare, and Smoked Salmon Terrine) for 2 pax.

BC Tasting for 2 (C$37)

Cooked within White Asparagus Panna Cotta and topped off with Green Apple Foam, I found little symphony between the mild individual flavours.

Dungeness Crab Salad

Ceviches’ are what I consider to be Central America’s answer to Japanese sashimi. My 2nd favourite amongst the 4 BC Tasting appetizers.

Qualicum Bay Scallop Ceviche

Very similar to the Ahi Tuna I had at the now defunct Raw Kitchen Bar (which has now reopened under the new name “Kilo”), though I find the Albacore Tuna to be much fattier and hence tastier.

Albacore Tuna Tartare

The Smoked Salmon Terrine was served with “Golden Caviar marinated in Sake, Green Onion Creme Fraiche, Pumpernickle & Toasted Filberts”. I was amazed at how “chim” the description was when I read it myself. Pumpernickle is a type of rye bread, and filberts are a type of hazelnut. While this scores average on the taste-o-meter, it does look pretty, no?

Smoked Sockeye Salmon Terrine

Baked with Tomatoes, Olives, Capers and Thyme Lemon Butter, I took pleasure in every bite, wishing if only the scallops could be larger.

Gulf Island Swimming Scallops (C$15.50)

Since its a seafood restaurant, it isn’t surprising that the Kurobuta Pork Cheeks wasn’t up to standard. Cooked in a “Milanese style with Cauliflower Couscous, Golden Raisins, Hazelnuts and Brown Caper Butter”, most of us felt that that the pork cheeks were insufficiently marinated and hence bland. We were slightly appeased as the portion turned out fairly large for an appetizer portion though.

Kurobuta Pork Cheeks (C$16.50)

Noticing that every table had a bowl of sliced lemons, it became clear that one of Blue Water Cafe’s strengths lies in their Oyster Menu, which offers almost 20 different breeds of oysters, originating from British Columbia in Canada, Washington and the East Coast of the US.

Based on the waiter’s recommendations, we tried the Effingham Oysters which the white larger ones and the Kumamoto Oysters which are the dark small ones. R and Nana preferred the Effingham ones which started off with a strong saline taste, before giving way to a subtle sweet aftertaste. I preferred the Kumamoto ones because I’m a fan of distinctly sweet rather than salty oysters and these ones.

Effingham Oysters (C$2.75/piece) and Kumamoto Oysters (C$3.75/piece)

Served with Morel Mushrooms, Artichokes, Pearl Onions and a Madeira (a type of fortified sweet wine) reduction, I found the risotto to be excellent, with the sweet wine complementing the cheesiness well.

Pearl Barley Risotto with Okanagan Goat Cheese (C$24.50)

Given that the lobster was uber fresh and really sweet, this was probably the best lobster dish I have ever tried. A light dip into the cream base and taking a bite out of that crunchy pincer is simply orgasmic.

Poached Live Lobster (C$60)

I’m not really into Halibut because I find the meat too firm and chewy that reminds me of the fish served in airline meals. Still, the crisp pan fried exterior provided some consolation.

Day's Special: Halibut

My first time eating Arctic Char. I found the flesh rather lean and flaky, which is possibly best enjoyed with a light seasoning to appreciate its natural delicate taste. Although it has been touted as an alternative to Salmon, I still prefer the latter which possesses a richer taste and is fattier too.

Arctic Char (C$29.50)

During the past 2 months of traveling, I learnt that there are quite a few species of cod around the world. In Singapore, the “cod” that is usually served is actually Chilean Seabass. In Europe like London, Spain and Portugal, the “cod” used is usually Salt Cod aka Baccala (in Italian) or Bacalhau (in Portuguese). As for Black Cod, it is also known as Sablefish and it was what I had for my main. Glazed with Miso and Sake, this is the best Miso Cod I have eaten, where the flavourful miso had been infused well into the cod without being used over excessively.

West Coast Sablefish (C$36.50)

Although the mains were filling, going at how well the meal had progressed so far, we decided to order a side of Truffle Fries before moving on to dessert. Nothing much to comment about though, apart from the fact that truffle fries seem to taste the same everywhere and loses its novelty quickly. I started feeling kinda “gelat” after about 20 fries. So, this is best for sharing.

Truffle Parmesan Fries (C$9.50)

Finally, time for desserts!

While the desserts weren’t bad by a long short, it didn’t give me the same “oomph” factor that I got while eating the sablefish or lobster mains.

Mandarin Cheesecake (C$12.50) & Warm Dark Chocolate (C$11)

Warm Dark Chocolate (C$12.50), Lemon Tart (C$11.50) & Raspberry Creme Brulee (C$11.50)

Complimentary cakes given to us after we finished our desserts 😀

Truly impressive world-class fare!

But after blowing C$100 on this well deserved meal, it’s time to move back to Phase 1: The Guilt Trip again.

Bon Appetit!

Blue Water Cafe + Raw Bar

1095 Hamilton St., Vancouver, British Columbia V6B 5T4, Canada

Tel: 604 688 8078





[London] Rhodes W1 – A Modern Take on French

22 05 2011

I was quite pleased with myself when I managed to secure an online booking for lunch at Rhodes W1, especially when it was a 5-Course Spring Tasting Menu at just 25.50GBP. I can’t remember which website I used to make the reservation but I discovered that one of the more dominant reservations sites within the UK would be Toptable. It’s a restaruant booking website (very much like diningcity) which frequently offers diners specially priced set menus, and 50% off restaurant bill deals for diners who choose to make their reservations via toptable for selected restaurants. Why doesn’t Singapore have such a website?!

Awarded 1 Michelin star, Rhodes W1 came across to me as being excessively posh, with a chandelier overhanging each and every table and Molten Brown liquid soap & hand lotion and nicely folded cloth towels in the toilet! (and yes, in case you are wondering, I did what normal kiasu Singaporeans would do and spammed some hand lotion before leaving). Despite being labelled a contemporary French eatery, I believe that much of what Rhodes W1 conjures up derive influences from an eclectic mix of different cuisines.

I’m more of a focaccia person that a ciabatta.

Courgette (Zucchini) Mousse, Goat Cheese Ice Cream with Balsamic Jelly. I liked how the palate cleansing balsamic blended well with the creamy mousse.

Braised Octopus Carpaccio, Chorizo Croquette, Fennel and Lemon. Nothing mind-blowing about the octopus but I did like the Croquette which was well fried though I couldn’t really discern the taste of chorizo from the potato.

As G doesn’t take Octopus, the chef obligingly replaced it with a Pigeon Pate, which ironically I found more tasty and substantial.

I just had a Guinea Fowl Confit at Bistro Du Vinlast week which wasn’t exactly spectacular and concluded that Guinea Fowl is just a lesser poultry, short on taste and texture compared to duck or chicken. However I was proved wrong after tasting the Slowed Cooked Guinea Fowl, Baby Leeks, St George’s Mushrooms & Foie Gras Emulsion today. The cylindrical pieces of meat came from the breast and was stuffed with what I gathered was egg, sunflower seeds and some other ingredients. As for the rectangular piece, it consisted of the thigh portions. Both were succulent and juicy.

Pina Colada. Coconut mousse atop pineapple sorbet.

Carrot Cake Cream Cheese Ice Cream. A sweet ending to the stellar meal.

The bill arrived in an envelope labelled “The Damage”. Very cutesey…I like.

Bon Appetit!

Marble Arch
London W1H 7DL, United Kingdom
Tel: 020 7616 5930





Dozo – “Please, go ahead”

16 05 2011

People normally stare at me in disbelief when I tell them I like the SMU culture. In their minds, the SMU culture comprises of a ridiculously competitive and cut throat community of backstabbers and bootlickers vying for that elusive A+. But to me, I perceive the SMU culture very much differently; it’s one where curriculum time is kept at a bare minimum (averaging 13.5-15 hours/week), leaving students free to explore other avenues of self-development. Even our summer holidays are the longest among the local universities. For this year’s summer hols, I have been bestowed 17 weeks!

And of course, I haven’t be wasting this precious time, except for the 1st week of hols which I wasted getting wasted. For the remainder though, my itinerary is well planned out.

At the time of writing , I’m currently holidaying in UK and will be proceeding on to Spain and Portugal shortly. After which, I will be flying over to Vancouver for a 1-month summer study program before heading to New York which is my last holiday destination. As such, this will be my last post on a Singapore restaurant for the coming 2 months…

I have visited Dozo and its 2 other sister restaurants Tao’s Restaurant and Ju Ju Hokkaido Hot Pot on multiple occasions and so far, I have not yet been disappointed. With a 6-Course Set Lunch serving Japanese Fusion priced at $39.80++, I find it pretty affordable considering that 3-course set lunches at most fine dining establishments are around that price range too.

The seating arrangements here are really spacious, with tables being set rather far apart from each other, and there are quite a few private rooms available too for larger groups. It’s definitely a great place to bring your special someone out for a nice long meal.

There’s 3 different flavours of Bread Sticks for diners to munch on before the appetizers are served.

The pre-meal Yuzu Sorbet is a common feature among Dozo and its 2 other sister restaurants. This citrus drink promises to stimulate your tastebuds and aid digestion.

The Chef Selection of Assorted Platter (Seared Scallop, Foie Gras, Smoke Salmon) is really the holy trinity of appetizers. While you will be able to find better renditions elsewhere at their individual level, but the variety is indeed commendable. Personally my favourite was the Foie Gras which was really oozing with flavour but I would have preferred it if it was served slightly warmer.

Foie Gras Chawanmushi topped with Black Truffle Slice. While I felt the black truffle slice was totally unnecessary, the subtle infusion of foie gras into the steamed egg added both flavour and smoothness to the chawanmushi. I would highly recommend this!

Gratinated Escargots topped with Yuzu Butter. The escargots were cooked in 2 ways, one was grilled with cheese and the other was to be left in its shell and cooked with garlic butter (I didn’t sense the yuzu). I much preferred the latter.

Crab Bisque Cappuccino Style. I dare say this is the best seafood bisque I have ever eaten. It’s just so concentrated and bursting with umami-ness.

If the crab bisque is a sprint, then the Double Boiled Beef Consomme would be a marathon. It’s also umami rich but in a more sustainable way that does not overwhelm, leaving you wanting for more.

I found a slight Indian influence in the Kurobuta Pork Cheek with Onion Jam, especially with the herbs used to encrust the pork cheeks. Having tried half of Dozo’s mains, I would conclude that this main is currently my favourite by a long shot.

Baked Atlantic Cod Fillet was merely pleasant, dwarfed by the many sensational dishes served. I would suggest being more adventurous in your choice of main when dining here.

The fruit teas are always what I look forward to when visiting Dozo and its 2 sister restaurants. We had the Iced Fruity Refresher & Iced Mellow Apple Melody which are the more popular teas among diners. Sadly, I found it slightly diluted this time compared to my previous encounters with it.

French Cream Cheese Cake. It’s on the softer spectrum for a cheesecake, being slightly mousse-like.

Dozo’s Freshly Baked Warm Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream. Some chocolate fondants are served moist throughout, but the one served here demonstrates a nice differentiation between the crisp outer layer and molten chocolate core. Very well done.

My previous visit to Dozo was to celebrate my birthday but I don’t think it’s possible to visit Dozo only once a year. And oh, did I mention that service was impeccable?

By the way, Dozo means “Please, go ahead”. You don’t have to tell me twice.

Bon Appetit!

DOZO

491 RIVER VALLEY ROAD, #02-02/03 VALLEY POINT

TEL: +65 6838 6966





Restaurant Ember – The exception to “hara hachi bu”

22 04 2011

I came across the japanese term “hara hachi bu” recently. It’s an Okinawan tradition which means to eat only till 80% full. While it’s a good strategy for avoiding obesity and living a healthy lifestyle, I find it useful and relevant in the art of food appreciation as well. I find that the most memorable meals are the ones where hara hachi bu comes into play, where you leave a restaurant only partially full and left wanting for more. Ever so often are we guilty of attending a buffet and gorging ourselves to get our money’s worth, only to be left unsatisfied and empty at the end of the meal.

However, Restaurant Ember proves to be an exception. Filled to 110% of my bodily capacity, I still found it to be one of my most memorable meals ever.

Despite being situated in what I’d consider to be the most competitive dining environment (the Tanjong Pagar and Outram area) to be found locally, Restaurant Ember still manages to keep up a fully booked reservation list on a day to day basis, which says a lot for an eatery that has already been around for the past 8 years.

At Ember, you can rest assure that there’s no hocus pocus, smoke or pyrotechnics used to impress diners. It’s a place where ambience and service is kept to a respectful minimum, and the the focus is really on the food. I reaffirmed this fact when I received a call confirming my reservation by a staff member who had an uncouth singlish accent, a far cry from the usual dignified “ang mor” accent we are so used to hearing from western eateries.

A warm toasty focaccia kick started our meal.

We were also given a complimentary mocktail each, a promotion for patrons paying with DBS/POSB cards.

3-Course Set Lunches here are priced at $39.50++, though some dish choices (like the foie gras) do require slight additional top-ups.

Pan Seared Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples & Clove, Port & Raspberry Glaze (additional $6 supplement). Me, I’m just a sucker for foie gras. This wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, with the classic light tinge of sour acidity from the malic and ascorbic acid from the apples to help provide some balance for the fatty goose liver. Pity it was slightly overcooked.

Roasted and Poached Foie Gras with Mirin, Shoyu & Shitake (additional $6 supplement). One of my most enjoyable foie gras dishes ever! As opposed to the sweet-sour combi with the previous foie gras dish, this dish was pure savoury goodness.

Marinated Cod with Black Miso, Sweet Peas & Herbed Potatoes. Unlike the previous Miso Cod I had at Greenwood Fish Market, I preferred Ember’s rendition which has a cleaner and lighter taste.

Crispy Duck Leg Confit with new Potatoes, Caramelized Onion & Thyme Jus. Very impressive duck confit they conjured up here, one of the best I have had. The skin is really crisp and somehow devoid of any excess frying oil, the duck meat is moist and supple, and the gravy heavy probably from the duck fat residue but flavourful nonetheless.

Homemade Sticky Date Pudding with Grand Marnier Ice Cream. For the longest time, Sticky Date Pudding has been my favourite dessert but I think I’m starting to tire of it. The Date Pudding here oddly resembles a fruitcake in terms of taste and texture. Personally, I’d prefer it more moist and I think it would have paired better with just a plain old Vanilla Bean Ice Cream instead of the yoghurt tasting Grand Marnier Ice Cream.

Warm Valrhona Chocolate Fondant with Vanilla Bean Ice Cream. I’m sure this would be a hit amongst dark chocolate lovers. The Vanilla Ice Cream is also to die for.

As you can see, Ember just puts a smile on my face. It just might be is my new favourite restaurant. Bon Appetit!

RESTAURANT EMBER

50 KEONG SAIK ROAD, HOTEL 1929

TEL: +65 6347 1928





Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Event @ Fullerton Hotel

28 02 2011

I have always aspired to attend a fancy dinner party, the type where everyone comes in their prom-like dresses and tuxedos, walking gracefully down a flight of white marble steps donned with a red carpet into a grand ballroom, where waiters go around with silver platters of petite-sized nibbles and glasses of champagne. No doubt this imagery stems from watching too many glamorous Hollywood events on television, but still, a boy can dream…

Though Time Out’s Dine Out Tasting Event was located in Fullerton Hotel’s Grand Ballroom, it was far from the fancy dinner party I had in mind. No tuxedos or prom dresses, I even spotted a guy in shorts! Still, with 14 eateries (actually 13 because Zento was a no-show) showcasing their unique culinary styles, I knew that I was in for a treat. Just think about it, as every eatery prepared roughly 3-4 dishes, we had over 40 dishes to choose from, talk about a spread! And what’s more, it’s a buffet with free flow wine (more than 10 types to choose from by Baws Winery and Magma), Margaritas (by Cafe Iguana) and whiskey (by Baws Winery)!

Starting off with Fullerton Hotel’s own Town Restaurant & Bar, I had their Laksa which I thought was very well done, very thick and rich broth. They also served Bak Ku Teh and Chicken Rice which I didn’t try (who eats such stuff at a standing buffet anyway?).

Jim Thomson evokes an imagery of perhaps a whiskey or bourbon label, but definitely not a Thai restaurant! Located near Dempsey, it is one of the more expensive Thai eateries in Singapore. An ala carte meal would probably set you back by $60 per pax. That night, they had something like a kueh pie tee, some mince meat over a fried shell. I also tried their Rice Crackers with Spicy Meat. I felt that these dishes were somewhat forgettable. Didn’t manage to make a round back for desserts so I didn’t try the Mango with Sticky Rice.

One of the most highly raved about Italian joints in Singapore, Ristorante Da Valentino whipped up 2 simple Italian dishes, Beef Lasagna and Chicken Pasta in a tangy tomato base. The Lasagna was pretty good, but the chicken pasta had a zing which was a tad too sourish for my liking.

My favourite dish that night had to be from Magma. In France, they call it Tarte Flambee, but in Germany, it’s known as Flammkuchen. Cooked ala minute, these thin crust “pizzas” came out piping hot topped with sour cream, lardons and onions. I couldn’t get enough of it and this was probably why I didn’t manage to try more of the offerings from the other restaurants. Very savoury and palatable, I thought the Flammkuchen went well with one of the sparkling red wines from Magma (can’t remember the name but will definitely find out soon. I can only recall it costs $29, really affordable!). That same sparkling red happened to be my favourite wine of the day!

Another eatery worth mentioning is Vanilla Bar & Cafe. I really enjoyed their mini Vanilla Dirt Cakes. Cream Cheese layered with Orea Crumbs, high on taste and aesthetic appeal!

As for the rest of the restaurants, namely Krish, Al Qasr, Perla’s, Moghul Mahal, Cafe Iguana, Nazt and Marble Slab, I shall I let the pictures do the talking…

Had a wonderful time at this tasting event and will am already looking forward to next year’s.

Bon Appetit!





DB Bistro Moderne – A Winning Gamble in MBS

20 02 2011

If you are looking for “atas”, posh and excessively ostentatious, DB Bistro Moderne will probably not be the place for you. It really is simply a bistro, which according to the dictionary means, “a small informal restaurant serving wine”. Yet, such a phrase definitely doesn’t do justice in describing DB Bistro Moderne, the latest of Daniel Boulud’s (of famed New York 3-Michelin Star restaurant Daniel) creations.

While DB Bistro Moderne supposedly serves French American fusion (easily detected from the furnishings), apart from their Burgers, I find it quite difficult to see where the American influence fits in within the menu. As for the ambience, the feeling I get here is casual and cosy, the staff are polite, attentive and more than able to answer any queries about the food. Lunch Sets are available for $38/$48 for 2/3 Course but this time I was here for dinner (mid terms finally ended today yay!). My friends and I got here before 6.30pm on a Friday night and there were only counter seats available for those without reservations, so do make a reservation to avoid being turned away.

And here, Chef Boulud in the flesh!

Dinner started off with a few variants of warm complimentary bread.

We shared a Tarte Flambee($16) which resembled a thin-crusted pizza. Topped with Fromage Blanc (a creamy soft cheese), finely diced bacon (aka lardons) and onions, we found this to be a really pleasant appetizer.

For our other starter, we had the Foie Gras Terrine($26). Normally, I’d prefer foie gras to be pan fried rather than to be made into a terrine but this one here really got me thinking. Creamy, dense and slightly briny, I could just eat it alone but it goes even better when eaten with the brioche and who can forget about the mildly sweet quince (fruit related to apple and pear) which also complemented it really well.

For Main, the Barramundi Grenobloise($35) was really awesome. The skin of this Asian Seabass was pan-fried till a nice shade of crisp golden brown and the meat had a very delicate and simple flavour which was paired nicely with a brown butter sauce. While I usually stay away from cauliflower, DB Bistro Moderne does a fine job converting my dislikes into likes.

Although it was a tough decision, I felt that the Coq Au Vin($31) edged out the Barramundi slightly to become my favourite dish of the night. Coq Au Vin is a tradition french classic of chicken braised with wine, mushrooms, onions and pork belly and the one here was served with a side of noodles, albeit of a French nature. What I loved most about this dish was the gravy and the chicken skin. Even as I ate, I could not figure out how to best describe the gravy. There were just so many flavours interacting and complementing with each other simultaneously that it’s almost impossible to decipher the individual constituents or describe the resulting flavourful amalgam.  My only grouse was that the chicken meat could be a tad more tender but apart from that, it truly was an amazing dish.

Chef Boulud was seriously being overindulgent in creating the Original DB Burger($38), tucking a thick sirloin patty filled with Braised Short Ribs and Foie Gras between 2 halves of a parmesan bun (whose interior was brushed with some wasabi). While the idea is a novel one, I found it to be more style than substance. The short ribs was unsensational and foie gras overcooked and almost tasteless.

For Desserts, I was attracted to the sound of Coffee Rocky Road Ice Cream present in the Profiteroles Au Cafe($15). I liked it how the waiter started pouring hot chocolate sauce on the profiteroles only upon serving such that the ice cream would not melt so quickly. Apart from that, this was run of the mill with the coffee rocky road proving to be just a slight deviation from the norm.

The Clafoutis Tout Chocolat($15) or more commonly known Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake came served with Chocolate Sorbet and Vanilla Ice Cream. The chocolate cake was topped with some berry jam glaze which I thought was a nice touch. Didn’t care so much for the chocolate sorbet as I did the full flavoured vanilla ice cream. However somehow, flourless chocolate cakes don’t give me the same oomph I get from “floured” ones.

My dinner experience here was truly remarkable and I can’t wait for a revisit.

Bon Appetit!

DB BISTRO MODERNE

10 BAYFRONT AVENUE, #B1-48 THE SHOPPES MARINA BAY SANDS

TEL: +65 6688 8525








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