On the lookout for gorgeous French food in Singapore? The EL team splurged on top notch cuisine across the island to bring you this quick round-up to brilliant French grub (it’s a tough job, oui?)…
Nicolas Le Restaurant
10 Teck Lim Road
Traditional French, with Mediterranean influences inspired by international produce sourced from Provence, Spain, Italy and even Japan. The menu changes every two weeks according to the season, and Nicolas uses no cream; rather, he creates natural jus and emulsions for flavour.
Nicolas Joanny founded the restaurant in 2007 after years of experience working in Michelin-starred restaurants in France, Italy and Singapore; he is a graduate of the Culinary Institute in Burgundy. Hailing from southern France, he was raised in a family of food lovers, and moved to Asia 15 years ago.
The quality ingredients in the eight-course set menu shine, and paired with Nicolas’s cooking, are a gastronomic treat. The Ibérico presa is his signature: the small Spanish pig is raised on acorns, and the result is unusually red flesh that is best served medium-rare, after being seared and then lightly oven-baked in hay. Another highlight is pigeon breast from Brittany with provençale-stuffed ravioli, which is satisfyingly moist and flavoursome.
The seafood entrées deserve a mention for their delicate emulsions: both the Spanish prawn in saffron and the masago-crusted codfish are delicious. Fromage-lovers will find it difficult to select from the expansive cheese platter, and those with a sweet tooth will revel in a trio of desserts that includes redcurrant ice cream.
Choose from four ($78), six ($98) or eight ($128) courses, but do splash out on eight at least once. The French are renowned for their sophisticated wine and food pairings, and Nicolas’s 400-bottle cellar does justice to the combination and price ($188). A three-course lunch is $42; five courses is $68.
80 Collyer Quay
This Parisian-style brasserie specialises in traditional comfort dishes, from steak frites and foie gras to rich onion soup and crème brûlée. The menu is also sprinkled with Italian-inspired dishes, like black truffle garganelli and risotto options, all with a French twist, of course.
Clifford’s signature duck confit ($44) is prepared to tender perfection, and accompanied by creamy truffle potato mousseline, garlic sautéed broad beans and a side of mixed greens. Another hands-down favourite is, of course, the steak and frites ($58) – a 220-gram piece of Angus beef entrecote, served with tasty truffle fries and beurre maître d’hôtel (parsley butter).
If you’re a fan of onion soup with melted Gruyère cheese croutons, Clifford’s soupe à l’oignon gratinée ($22) won’t let you down. It’s everything you’d expect from a tasty, piping hot bowl of this traditional French favourite. The signature apple tart tatin ($32) for two – which feeds more like four – is another treat worth saving some room for. Served in a warm skillet with vanilla ice cream on the side, the caramel-coated apple chunks and buttery crust are a gooey goodness that shouldn’t be missed.
The cuisine here doesn’t come cheap, but portions are generous enough to feel satisfied about it – especially on a special night out. That said, pace yourself; while it’s hard not to fill up on bread and duck rillettes, you’ll want space for an appetiser and dessert, and perhaps a side of truffle frites. You’ll also want to linger over a bottle of wine in the beautifully decorated, bayfront setting.
31 Ocean Way
#01-15 Quayside Isle
Having maintained its lofty standards since it first opened in March 2000, Saint Pierre is a splurge worth making, and – for us mainlanders – a trip worth taking. Overlooking the yachts moored at Quayside Isle in Sentosa, you can enjoy modern French cuisine that’s on par with its luxurious surroundings. Yet the atmosphere and service are neither stifling nor pretentious. In fact, this intimate 60-seater venue is ideal for a romantic rendezvous, while also welcoming casual groups and families.
From the scenery to the artworks, everything here is easy on the eye – and that includes the photogenic chef! Celebrity chef Emmanuel Stroobant studied and trained at various Michelin-starred establishments in his home country, Belgium, and ran his own successful Le Bal restaurant before conquering both Australia and Malaysia. In 2000, he settled in Singapore with his wife Edina and began building their famous Emmanuel Stroobant Group empire.
For the full Saint Pierre experience, we recommend the five-course tasting menu. Capturing Emmanuel’s whole-food philosophy and strong advocacy of fresh produce, this menu features light portions with nevertheless decadent flavours. Standout dishes include the cabillaud au miso: black cod with shiitake, dashi consommé and kinome rice ball; and the 48-hour-braised boeuf aux echalottes with caramelised tamanegi broth and salted-butter-braised greens.
If, like me, you declare the date your “cheat day”, you could add on the sinful foie gras classique supplement ($28), or simply forget the guilt and savour every last bit of the gâteau au chocolat, a recipe passed down from Stroobant’s grandmother.
The à la carte starters are from $32, whilst the mains are all around the $50 mark. If you opt for the five-course menu ($128), there’s great value and quality in the wine accompaniment ($78), which features grapes from all around the world.
Rhubarb Le Restaurant
3 Duxton Hill
After their shared experience at the popular Au Petit Salut in Dempsey, executive chef Paul Longworth and manager Jerome Desfonds are now serving just seven tables – an opportunity to advance in a “higher-end” direction, they say. This complex, modern French cuisine deserves deep and leisurely appreciation, so don’t be in a hurry.
Paul Longworth is from London (“just west of Paris”), and first started to specialise in French cuisine at Racine in Knightsbridge. Though he respects classical French cuisine, his own ethos is one of innovation and creativity, without gimmickry. That said, you can expect a fairly high foam quotient.
Quinoa-stuffed squid with squid-ink aioli and piquillo pepper froth is a work of art on a plate. Japanese scallops with confit of pork belly come with cauliflower and white chocolate sauce, and topped with crispy chicken skin. And the signature of signatures? Plump breast and confit leg of pigeon with sesame-crunch grapes and rose-scented rhubarb purée.
Our smoked chestnut and mushroom emulsion with black truffle dressing – “just give it a little stir” – is rich, pungent, yet light as air. Save space for the chocolate and peanut butter torte served with hay-smoke-infused ice cream. (Though Chef is a great fan of hay, he insists that there’s no point in coming up with something new just for the sake of it; it has to taste good, too.)
Starters range from $16 to $32, mains from $28 to $64. We lunched à la carte, but I’d opt for the appealing three-course business lunch ($42) next time. A few days later, we came back with a party of 10 to christen the lovely private dining room upstairs; at $138 per head, neither the splendid five-course set menu (including a generous chunk of foie gras) nor the immaculate service could be faulted.