Thursday, September 2, 2010

Au Petit Salut: top 3 French restaurants in Singapore?

Au Petit Salut is one of the standard bearers of fine French cuisine in our little city. Housed now in its own building...which used to be the Junior Flying Club...in the hip Dempsey area, the restaurant features a fine dining space, a private dining area and a bistot in Holland Village.

I attended a sampling during an event held by Vacheron Constantin to showcase their ultra thin heritage and the new 2010 Historique watches - the Ultra-Fine 1955 and 1968. See here for a look at these wonderfully elegant watches.

We started dinner, with champagne...of course. Its only the proper thing to do. And during the dinner, fine burgendy whites and reds flowed. I neglected to shoot the bottles, and from memory cannot recall the exact wines served...but they were excellent...delicious and complements the food.

First off the fat, and quite large serving of foie gras



Pan seared...as usual, just a tinge of searing to make the skin a bit crispy, but not enough heat to destroy the fatty liver within. The liver remained juicy, milky almost, super rich tasting...and just about explodes in the mouth as the tongue starts to press it against the palate. The richness of the foie gras is usually offset with the sauce, and in this case its Xeres vinegar and red onions with a sprig of baby spinach.

We next were served a bowl with a ravioli, and the waitress carefully poured a ladlefull of lobster bisque into the bowl...almost submerging the ravioli.



The flavour of the lobster bisque was quite good...intense, concentrated. I would have liked to have some lobster bits within, but the soup was smooth and creamy. A few drops of truffle oil completes the wonderful aroma. The dumpling had a rather nice lobster filling. But if I were to critique, the skin pastry of the ravioli was a tad tough...almost like a dumpling from dim sum...and perhaps a finer skin pastry would be more elegant to set off the lobster.

A wild berry sorbet was next served as a palate cleanser



Well chosen by the chef...the sorbet was at once sour, and sweet...the texture of the icicles were alluring, and was a great cleanser for the palate to prepare for the main event.

I had the Pan Roasted Beef Tenderloin with Sauteed Wild mushrooms, mashed potato and a red wine sauce.



As usual, I had ordered my steak to be charred on the outside, and medium rare on the inside. The chef could definitely deliver a nice, wonderful medium rare...



but the exterior was not the least bit crusty, crispy or charred. Nevertheless this was an excellent steak. If I hazard a guess, this was a Black Angus, probably grass fed, but corn fed for the last days of its life to give the characteristic lean, slightly chewy sinews, but tempered with nice marbling from the corn during its final days. Nice.

The mashed potato made a bed for the steak, and stands for special mention. It was rich, creamy, and smooth to the palate. I know of one other mashed potato which is better, but Au Petit's offering is certainly top 3. BTW, Damian Da Silva (formerly of the Big D Grill, and now Soul Kitchen in the National Museum) makes my benchmark gold standard.

The dessert was rather unusual from a cursory reading of the menu card. 8 Hours oven baked apple, ligh calvados custard cream, vanilla and crumble...it read.



8 hours! wow...this is veering towards Fat Duck territory, where dishes sometimes call for 12 to 24 hours in the oven. The result from Au Petit was marvellous. The apple had been rendered almost to a pulp...though not quite. The calvados custard cream was divine. Smooth, rich...ultimately sinful...but who's counting calories when dining at Au Petit? The vanilla added the characteristic flavour, and the crumble was a good balance of texture to the rich cream. Quite a successful pairing, I must say.

Au Petit Salut once again proves its mantle as one of the best French restaurants in Singapore. I have not yet tried Guy Savoy's outlet at Marina Bay Sands...doubtful I will as I have already met and sampled his cooking in his flagship Paris restaurant. But together with Iggy and possibly Les Amis which I have not had a recent tasting, Au Petit Salut can reign at the peak of French cuisine here.


40C Harding Road
Singapore 249548
T: 6475 1976
F: 6475 1966
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