[Paris, France] L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile – A Slight Disappointment

16 10 2013

If you are on the streets using googlemaps, the entrance to Joel Robuchon Etoile couldn’t be harder to find. We were looking out for some indications of a posh looking restaurant but there was nothing that even vaguely hinted to where the restaurant was. We finally discovered it was inside a bookstore, very much like how there used to be a cafe inside the now-defunct Borders bookstore at Wheelock place. Truly an unexpected location for a restaurant holding two Michelin Stars.

Lounge area

Set lunches are priced fairly at 42 Euros / 62 Euros / 82 Euros for 3, 4 and 5 courses (exclusive of the amuse bouche course) respectively.

The kitchen operates on an open concept to allow patrons to better appreciate the efforts taken to prepare their food. It also allows for easier interaction with the friendly servers.

One of the few noteworthy dishes of the meal was our amuse bouche, a 3 layered shot of warm foie gras mousse topped with port wine sauce and parmesan foam. Definitely a winning combination with a well thought out layering sequence for a perfect transition of flavours. As the spoon entered my mouth, I first detected the rich fatty liver mousse, subsequently complemented by sweet port sauce, with the journey ending off with a savoury airy foam. One of the most blissful few seconds in recent years.

The Mackerel appetizer was one of our server’s recommendations and that’s what I got. My friends took quite a liking to it but personally, I was severely disappointed. While the flesh was rather tender, the skin lacked an adequate sear and turned out soggy. The belly portion wasn’t as fatty as I would have liked either and the fish was rather cold by the time I dug in (which could also be the reason why the skin was soggy). I guess the plus points for the dish was the delicious mustard sauce and visual vibrancy.

M got himself the Maine Lobster with Sugar Lettuce (11 Euros supplement). I preferred this to the fish but again, it didn’t stand out much.

I also had a side order of the Foie Gras with French Sourdough (29 Euros). I found the texture of the foie gras pretty smooth compared to the ones I have at more casual diners during my trip but I didn’t fancy the accompanying compote.

For main, I had the Chicken with Tuna Sauce. The chicken breast was sliced thinly and awfully tender. The tuna sauce was unexpectedly smooth as well. While the execution was flawless, it did seem a little simplistic for such a reputable French restaurant.

M had the Iberico Pork (11 Euros supplement) which was extremely tough. He feedbacked that the sauce was marvelous though.

Another well-executed but simplistic dish was the Deep-Fried Whiting Fish. It was the best “Fish without the Chips” that I have had with outstanding freshness of the fish and extraordinarily light batter.

All mains were served with a heavenly velvety mash.

Desserts as a whole was very meh, especially the Mango Mousse and Yoghurt with Papaya Coulis.

I made the correct choice picking the Coffee dessert, comprising of a Coffee Jelly base, Cocoa Crumble, Chantilly Coffee and Coffee Ice Cream. What I liked most was the playful integration of textures.

Mango Mousse

Yoghurt with Papaya Coulis

Frankly, I’m on the fence about this one. The food is by no means terrible but my elevated expectations were not met during this luncheon. In my humble opinion, for the same price paid, there are better alternatives in Paris. On the other hand, raising the pot and opting for their degustation menu might produce significantly better results.

PS: There is a small booth near the restaurant entrance selling Pierre Herme macarons which perhaps warrants dropping by if your desserts don’t turn out as well as planned. The Arc de Triomphe is a 3 minutes walk from the restaurant, so plan your itinerary accordingly if you are a visiting tourist.

L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon Etoile

133 Avenue des Champs-Elysees

Tel: +33 0147237575
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[Hong Kong] Caprice – A Michelin 3-Star French Luncheon

3 08 2012

Located at The Four Seasons Hotel, Caprice is one of the 2 French restaurants in Hong Kong that have been awarded the prestigious Michelin 3-stars (the other being Atelier de Joel Robuchon).

Few can dispute that Caprice is undeserving of such an honour, not after setting foot into the restaurant. Greeted by a team that is attentive and well versed with the restaurant’s offerings, one is led into opulent settings where Swarovski chandeliers hang overhead. As one enters the restaurant, the first thing that catches the eye is the open kitchen with the chefs all hard at work and as you look around towards the windows, you catch a gorgeous view of the Victoria Harbour. It does seem that Caprice spares no expense in ensuring that the ambience is right for that special occasion.

If one should decide to dress up for a meal, this would be the time to do so. Nothing is going to be much fancier than this.

Given the posh setting and accolades, it is no surprise that meals here don’t come cheap. The more “affordable” set lunches are priced at 460/520 HKD for 2 or 3-course meals respectively while dinners can work up to easily 3 times that price without wine.

We were served an “Anchovy Cake” as our amuse bouche, which tasted much like warm fish keropok. It’s tasty but I expected something a little more sophisticated.

Of the 4 varieties of bread (from top left anti-clockwise – Olive, Baguette, Sourdough and Sesame), it was clear that the Sesame was our favourite. It’s done very much like a croissant, just much airier. Not wanting to stuff myself prematurely, I was the only one on my table who had the discipline to stop at 1, while my counterparts were so taken by this that they downed an average of 5 each!

We were also given Bordier Butter (salted and unsalted) to go with our bread, a premium French hand-churned butter that is considered by many to be the finest in the world.

My friends Joyce and Randall had the Rockfish Consomme, Saffron Infusion & Fish Rillette for appetizer. The taste of the broth seems so surreal to me now as I merely sampled a mouthful of its umami goodness. I was distraught after I tasted it, realizing that my appetizer didn’t even come close in terms of execution and flavour. The Fish Rillette was just so-so compared to the consomme, tasting like a crabcake mash.

Kenneth had the Marinated Salmon, Avruga & Lime Caviar, Tarama, Bottarga & Salmon Roe. Personally, I thought it was just an over-glorified piece of Cured Salmon that was no doubt tasty but overly simplistic.

I had the Paimpol White Bean Veloute & Duck Foie Gras Tartine. The word veloute stems from the french adjective velour, which means “velvety” but this white bean veloute was far too heavy and starchy to be described as such. Served on the side was the Duck Foie Gras Tartine, comprising mainly of white beans with slivers of foie gras terrine on a thin toast. While it had an appetizing sourish zing to it, I couldn’t appreciate its pairing with the veloute.

While there were 7 choices of mains to choose from, it so happened that all 4 of us chose the Free-ranged Quail Stuffed with Foie Gras, Mushrooms & Spinach in Civet Sauce, which sounded the most authentically french and hardest to replicate amongst the other choices. It was a good call indeed as this turned out to be the star of the meal.

I have had bad experiences with foie gras stuffings, such as the DB Burger from DB Bistro Moderne where the foie gras stuffing turned out tasteless and dry but the stuffing for the quail wasn’t like this at all. There was no pungent aftertaste and its flavours managed to infuse into the tender juicy quail meat that had been cooked perfectly to a light pink hue. The civet sauce tasted similar to a red wine sauce you would get off a coq au vin, but perhaps been thickened slightly with the addition of blood.

For wine, we requested a bottle of semi-dry red to go along with our quail and the sommelier suggested the Chateau Rollan de By, 2006 (780 HKD). It’s from Medoc, a wine growing region in Bordeaux and made up of a blend of 70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Sauvignon & Cabernet Franc, and 10% Petit Verdot. I found it very drinkable with a medium fruity body which indeed complemented the quail.

For desserts, I had the Saint Honore of Chocolate Trio & Cinnamon in Spiced Mexican Sauce, comprising 3 chocolate profiteroles & varying degrees of chocolate mousses on a filo pastry which is then finished with an extra layer of chocolate sauce. So much chocolate must have made this dessert cloying right? Wrong, the chocolate mousses were really light and there was sufficient pastry to soak up all the chocolate sauce.

Joyce and Randall both got the Cherry Marmalade & Sandalwood Cream with Griotte Sorbet, very much a sandalwood panna cotta topped with Cherry Sorbet and Marmalade.

Kenneth had the Caprice Cheese Cellar, a very generous platter of 4 types of cheese. I wasn’t paying much attention when the server was going through the cheeses as I was desperately trying to take some quick snaps of the other desserts that had meltable features but 1 cheese did catch my attention – giraffe cheese. It wasn’t my cup of tea though, as I prefer milder cheeses.

We ended off the meal with coffee, tea and petite fours (Strawberry Macaroon, Banana Chocolate, Irish Dark Chocolate) at 4pm. Time had whisked by so quickly but the staff didn’t seem annoyed that we had unknowingly stayed past lunch hour.

Good food, chichi settings and superb service. If there’s only 1 thing more I could ask for, it’s probably a little more creativity.

Caprice

8 Finance Street, Central, Four Seasons Hotel

Tel: +852 3196 8888





Forlino II – A Peek into their Restaurant Week Menu

23 03 2012

Forlino was named after its former head chef Osvaldo Forlino. After leaving Forlino, he has since set up 2 Italian establishments over the past 2 years, No Menu Singapore and Osvaldo Ristorante, both of which I’m dying to try. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves and just focus on Forlino for today.

I was here just over a year ago and fondly remembered that the food was palatable, though the experience was not impressionable enough to lure me back till now. Accompanying me for this Restaurant Week Lunch, priced at $40++, were fellow food bloggers Christine from Crunchy Bottoms, Jing Wen from The Dirty Stall and Issie. I’m relatively easy to please but I can’t say the same for my fellow guests, who are definitely more discerning when it comes to their nom noms.

When I saw Stuzzicappetito as the first course, my mind drew a blank. Had no idea whatsoever what that meant. Googling it after I got home, I discovered that it is the Italian equivalent of an appetizer, and means to tease the appetite. We were given a warm bread roll each with cheese shavings. Crunchy Bottoms bakes her own bread from time to time and postulated that the bread we got was machine-made, which is a bummer. The cheese was awesome though, tasted like a mild cheddar though I reckon it’s probably a type of cheese whose name is long and unpronounceable.

Anyway just some side info on cheddar cheese since I’m on the topic. Have you ever come across the terms “mild”, “tasty” or “vintage” no your cheese packets and wondered what the different styles of cheddar actually mean? Well, these terms refer to how long the cheeses have been aged with mild being the youngest and vintage being the oldest and carrying the most pungent flavours.

My favourite course of this meal was the Tagliolini with Spanner Crab, Sweet Peas and Tarragon Cream. The Tagliolini was cooked towards the softer side, with a light tomato base sauce (which I assume the crab was cooked in) whose tanginess was downplayed by the green tarragon sauce. The portions were large enough to qualify as mains and I was adequately satiated by the end of the course to retire for the day. Then again, the pasta was so good that I was quietly anticipating what was to come next.

Crunchy Bottom’s Mediterranean Seabass Fillet with Braised Artichoke and Apricot Sauce was very well executed in my view. The fish was fresh and moist, going well with the foamy apricot sauce, which was only subtly creamy so as not to musk the natural sweetness of the fish.

I was rather disappointed with the Crispy Duck Leg Confit with Vin Santo Sauce. For duck confits, it is usually the case where either the duck skin is pure decadence or the meat is moist and succulent. You seldom get the best of both worlds. In this case however, the duck confit failed on both accounts. The skin was moderately soggy and the duck meat was stringy and excessively salty. Vin Santo is a type of sweet dessert wine and together with the lentils, they helped to alleviate the saltiness somewhat. I guess I was going through this course with a very unsatisfied look, like I just scored a B+ on a test. B+ is an Asian F 😀

For desserts, we had the Amaretti & Duck Chocolate Pudding, Vanilla and Wild Berry Compote. Amaretti means Macaroons or Cookies in Italian, which I guess is what was sprinkled on the top of the chocolate pudding. The pudding wasn’t very smooth, as I could still see air bubbles like pimples scarring the surface of the pudding. Taste-wise, I didn’t really enjoy it and felt that the berry compote was not the ideal complement for the pudding. My tastebuds might be part of the minority though, since accounts from my friends who have visited Forlino for restaurant week paint a very different picture.

I’d say Forlino might be a little overrated. They do a decent job with their pastas and possibly foie gras dishes, but they should leave the duck confits to the French.

Forlino

1 Fullerton Road, #02-06

Tel: +65 6877 6995





Le Saint Julien – French at its Finest

23 03 2012

We all have meal spending thresholds. Most people will try to stick within the range of $5-$10 for daily routine meals, $10-$25 for gathering-type meals and perhaps $25-$40 for celebratory occasions. This is probably the reason why I have trouble sometimes finding lunch kakis’ when I want to go out for a nice lunch out of the blue.

I guess it’s because of this blog and my routine uploads of food pictures on facebook that leave many people assuming that my meal spending threshold is non-existent but sadly, that is purely a myth. That is why Restaurant Week is so important to me. While not every participating restaurant offers a huge discount off their usual set meal prices, some do take the effort to cater to the humbler than usual crowd and Le Saint Julien is one of the latter.

Before today, I would never dream of dining at Le Saint Julien without a reason to celebrate. An ala carte meal without wine would probably set you back $150-$200! Prices of their 3-Course Set Lunches and 6-Course Set Dinners are slightly more palatable at $46++ and $168++, though I would still think think twice if it were just a regular meal to catch up with friends. After lunch today however, I have to admit my propensity to spend at Saint Julien has been elevated somewhat.

There’s a nice lounge and bar area to have an aperitif should you arrive ahead of your guests. I was browsing through Saint Julien’s website when I came across their wine outlook, where I saw the phrase “$60 for 750ml”. At the back of my mind, I was like “Wa, that’s super reasonable for a fine dining restaurant!”. Then reality struck, it was the corkage charges…

Walking into the main dining area, what you see is sleek furnishings and a high ceiling. This is important so that it doesn’t get too noisy as the crowd starts streaming in. Ms Edith Lai, wife of Chef Julien Bompard, whizzes around the restaurant ensuring everything is in order. She has after all been in the hospitality industry for much of her career and given the level of professionalism and training of her wait staff, we know we are in good hands.

Diners aren’t given much flexibility for the Restaurant Week 3-Course Set Lunch Menu. Appetizers and Desserts are fixed, while there are 2 choices for Mains. An extra course can be ordered at an additional price of $26-$32++, depending on which additional course (Foie Gras, Lobster Bisque or Escargot) is chosen. I decided against it as I have already overkilled my dining budget for this and next week.

We started off the meal with the Slow Cooked Egg with Foie Gras Emulsion, Mushrooms and Black Truffle Oil. Initially, I thought the Foie Gras Emulsion was the white liquid in the cup but it was actually the thin layer of brown paste coating the brioche and it totally blew me away. The white liquid is actually just the whites of the Slow Cooked Egg. I wasn’t paying attention when the wait staff explained it to us, but I’m certain this is no normal soft boiled egg as the yolk is semi-solid while the whites are extremely delicate and runny. Typically for soft boiled eggs, it would be the reverse. I could definitely detect the traces of truffle oil in the egg cup as well, which is an added treat.

We are lucky that Aries chose the Roasted Daurade Fish with “Arbois” Wine and Avruga Caviar Sauce as her main, as it makes for a lovely picture. Daurade is more commonly known as Sea Bream or Tai, a mild tasting fish. I would say that on its own, it is unspectacular, but with the creamy gravy, we swooned. This just highlights the importance of synergizing different elements of a dish. Just fyi, Arbois is a type of white grape found in France and is considered one of the less acidic grape types. I haven’t really heard of it before because it’s a minor grape, compared to the ubiquitous Chardonnay and Chenin Blanc.

For the rest of us, we opted for the Braised Pork Belly with Sauerkraut in Filo Pastry, served with Apple Calvados Sauce instead. We all wondered how Chef Julien managed to transfer the pork filled filo pastry onto the plate, as the pastry crust was paper thin, shattering upon light proding. The pork belly was savoury and flavourful, balanced well by the sour zing from the Sauerkraut (fermented cabbage) at the base of the pastry, as well as the mildly sweet apple brandy sauce.

The Parfait with Banana, Chocolate and Pralines came with slightly disjointed elements, especially the Chocolate Almond flavoured (for want of a better word I shall just use) biscuit, whose presence I thought was totally unnecessary. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed the Parfait which was banana flavoured. The caramelized banana was nice, tasted more alcoholic than sweet (perhaps soaked in alcohol before caramelizing?), but still just an accessory adorning the main attraction (the parfait).

Despite being a discounted Restaurant Week lunch, this experience was definitely memorable enough to justify adding Le Saint Julien to my list of favourite restaurants. After all, if $47 bucks got me all this, just think what a $168 set dinner will get me?

Le Saint Julien

3 Fullerton Road, The Fullerton Water Boat House

Tel: +65 6534 5947





Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar – Very Meh

14 12 2011

Now that holidays are here, I have been trying my best to spend more time with my non-SMU friends whom I might have neglected through the school term. This term has been a trying one for me, but which term hasn’t? One thing’s for sure though, I had definitely spent more time in the library and less time with the nom noms this time around. So now, it was time to go on an eating spree to make up for lost time… 

I arrived ahead of C, excited to be dining at what was considered to be one of Singapore’s leading Italian fine dining restaurants. The service was impeccable, and the maitre’d saw to it that I wasn’t too bored, coming over to chat a while I waited for C.

When C arrived, we were served with complimentary freshly toasted Dried Tomato Focaccia Bread. First impressions count and Garibaldi nailed it as this was the 2nd best complimentary bread I have had so far (the best being from Private Affairs which has recently shifted out of its Joo Chiat premises). C even got himself a third slice!

Their 3-Course Set Lunch is priced at $38++, a huge discount from the ala carte prices which would probably set you back by about $100ish.

For appetizer, C chose the Cocktail Di Gamberetti or Poached Shrimps with Romaine Lettuce in Cocktail Sauce. They are quite generous with the shrimps, and the shrimps were fresh and springy so no complaints here. It does remind me of the cold dish prawns you get at wedding dinners.

For myself, I opted for the Soup of the Day which happened to be Asparagus & Crab Soup. It’s quite starchy, so I think they might have blended in some potatoes to thicken the soup a bit. Overall, it was meh.

For Main, I had the Spaghettini with Calamari, Black Olives and Fresh Tomatoes, thinking that a fancy Italian restaurant would definitely get their pastas right. Yet again, I was left disappointed as this was forgettable.

C’s Stewed Red Snapper served with Grilled Polenta and Green Peas fared slightly better, though severely lacking a wow factor. Polenta is made from cornmeal and supposedly looks a bit like mash potatoes which I don’t see any of. Perhaps it is the toast lookalike behind the fish.

For desserts, diners get a choice of what they want from a cart of homemade cakes by Sweets Garibaldi.

Diners can also choose if they would like a sauce (Chocolate, Vanilla and one more I can’t recall) to accompany the cake.

C got a Chocolate one which I didn’t try.

For myself, I had a Hazelnut Flavoured one which on first bite tasted like Kinder Bueno with the soft hazelnut cream and crisp praline base. I thought it could have been better if the sponge was lighter and more airy.

The set lunch comes with a choice of coffee or tea. The coffee was fragrant and robust despite being quite bitter (typical of french and italian coffees perhaps?)

Overall, I wasn’t impressed with the food but felt the service made up for it.

Bon Appetit!

Garibaldi Italian Restaurant & Bar

36 Purvis Street

Tel: +65 6837 1468





Stellar @ 1-Altitude – A New Star?

29 08 2011

*This dinner was sponsored by Stellar @ 1-Altitude

I was pleasantly surprised when I received an invitation to a tasting session to Stellar @ 1-Altitude last week. This was my first time dining there and I was glad that several other food bloggers were invited as well. It’s always interesting to find out what makes food bloggers tick and their impetus for starting their food blogs in the first place.

1-Altitude is the latest venture by the One Rochester Group, which also operates its flagship gastrobar One Rochester, Coast @ 1-TwentySix and patisserie 1 Caramel (if you haven’t already found out, I hate to break the sad news to you but the outlet between Cathay and Plaza Singapura has relocated to One Rochester quite recently). Perched on level 62 of OUB Centre, be astounded by the panoramic and breathtaking 360 degree view of the Singapore CBD/Marina Bay skyline.

1-Altitude actually manages levels 61 to 63 of OUB centre, with each level catering for different functions and crowds. On level 61, 1-Altitude runs 282 and Citygolf, a sports bar and indoor golf simulator. On level 62 is the fine dining restaurant arm of 1-Altitude, Stellar. Lastly located on the top level is 1-Altitude Gallery and Bar, which is the World’s highest rooftop bar at 282m.

Stellar is helmed by Group Executive Chef Christopher Miller, who in addition to being Stellar’s head chef, also runs his own Thai eatery Sweet Salty Spicy around the Bukit Timah area. He tells us that while Stellar’s modern cuisine carries with it a high level of sophistication, Stellar aims at providing diners with a fun dining experience rather than evoking stifling and rigid fine dining rules.

While Chef Miller specializes in Modern European cuisine, Stellar’s menu isn’t limited as such. There’s food here that caters to most palates, from Japanese, fresh seafood like Sashimi and Oysters, Grilled meats, and even a Charcuterie section (cured meats) but Chef Miller made it clear that Stellar doesn’t serve fusion food.

Our tasting session started off with Stellar’s Twice Baked Gruyere Souffle. For traditionalists who believe that souffles should only be left for dessert, I bid them to try this rendition. The gruyere souffle is served alongside additional servings of 2 different melted cheese sauces (gruyere and blue cheese), meant for those who want an extra cheesy kick. The cheese sauces complemented the souffle as much, if not more, than the typical vanilla sauce to a chocolate souffle. I believe that I would have no qualms eating this for breakfast, brunch, lunch, high tea, dinner or supper 😀

The Seared Hokkaido Scallops and Octopus was a pretty sight. The octopus is cooked in a sous vide style, adding a softer texture to the normally elastic rubbery bite.

The Sashimi: Omakase Taster is an assorted tray of fresh Tuna Belly, Salmon, Tai, Hamachi, Swordfish, Scallops, Ikura, Caviar, and Surf Clams. Typically, “omakase” means entrusting your meal in the chef’s hands such that he would normally bring out the freshest or seasonal ingredients to whip up your meal. Therefore, its probable that one might not get the same types of sashimi everytime, but that’s just my guess. I found the quality and freshness of the seafood laudable given that Stellar isn’t a full fledged Japanese restaurant. After all, who can complain about Tuna Belly?

The Sushi(Spicy Tuna, Swordfish, Lobster and Salmon) was done delightfully well too. I especially liked the Swordfish Sushi (2nd row from top). In addition to the inner sushi fillings of diced swordfish, the sushi was also topped with a slice of creamy swordfish smeared with a rich mayo sauce which was subsequently seared. Really yummy.

There was a small side of lightly seared Ocean Trout and Swordfish Tataki which I found so-so.

There’s so much variety within the Charcuterie Taster that it’s hard to keep track. Apart from the 2 different types of Jamon hams (can’t remember their exact names though), there’s also a fowl terrine which I found too bitter and strong-tasting for my liking, cured sausages of duck and pork which were so-so, and a creamy foie gras parfait which was my favourite mini-item of this Charcuterie Taster.

Transiting to Mains, I harboured ambivalent feelings towards the Truffled Risotto with Poached Maine Lobster. While I liked the texture of the risotto and fresh sweetness of the lobster, I found the use of Truffle oil excessive which threatened to overwhelm the dish’s naturally mild flavours.

The Slow Roasted Suckling Pig with Iberico jamon and Fig Stuffing was pretty decent but objectively speaking, I’m just too much a fan of fat meats to be that reliable.

The Grain Fed ‘Tomahawk’ Rib Eye served with Bone Marrow is sourced from Australian cattle, which according to Chef Miller is what Australian cattle are good for (US cattle are better for their sirloin according to him). If I recall correctly, this Rib Eye was dry aged for 120 days, which is quite long. Just to recap on the similarities and differences between wet aging and dry aging, both types of aging carries with it the same purpose; to allow the beef to become more tender by allowing its natural enzymes to break down the proteins within the beef. The main difference is that for dry aging, the beef (usually of higher quality) is hung and allowed to air while for wet aging, the beef is sealed in a vacuumed plastic bag (hence retaining more water and tasting a bit more bloody). Another tidbit of info regarding food aging that I found out from Chef Miller is that aging of egg whites (for 2 weeks!) is crucial in making a light and airy souffle!

Utterly seduced by the Chocoloate Seduction, I loved every aspect of this creation, from the velvety chocolate ganache to the crunchy praline base, not to mention the Moist Chocolate Cake (much like a chocolate lava cake) at the background. I just think that while 1 chocolate cake is good, 2 is always better.

Topped with Coconut Ice Cream, I’m not an ardent fan of the Tropical Vodka Trifle, which while still passable by usual standards, was dwarfed by the other desserts.

Whenever I used to visit 1-Caramel, I never fail to order the Strawberry Shortcake which is airy and not too cloying. I was simply beaming when I saw it present among the Trio Fraise, which also comprised of Champagne Jelly and Chocolate Dipped Strawberries.

The Tropical Teaser comprised of a citrus cheesecake and Lemon Sorbet, effective as a last dessert for cleansing the palate after such a heavy meal.

While there was a mix of hits and misses, I generally enjoyed my dining experience at Stellar. After our dinner, we took a short stroll up to the rooftop bar and gallery. Having been to a few rooftop bars in Singapore like Helipad, Orgo and New Asia Bar, I believe that 1-Altitude’s ambience and view is the best of these few. Of course, I won’t be as hasty to say that it’s the best rooftop bar in Singapore, as I haven’t been to LeVel 33 or Ku De Ta etc yet.

Many thanks to the One-Rochester Group and Stellar @ 1-Altitude for their kind and gracious invitation.

Bon Appetit!

Stellar @ 1-Altitude

1 Raffles Place, Level 62 OUB Centre

Tel: +65 6438 0410





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








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