(Hosted) At first glance, all seems to be the same at the ever elegant Three MICHELIN-Starred @lesamisrestaurant. But look a little closer and you will notice that the wallpaper has been replaced by fresh white marble powdered walls that are beguilingly cool to the touch and that you feel comfortably cool anywhere you are seated thanks to a new air-conditioning system. Lighting has also been re-designed to enhance the look and feel of the space. And in the Private Dining Room overlooking the kitchen, there is a custom-built, state-of-the-art cellar to hold their retail stock which includes French cheese, caviar from @kavisri_paris caviar (Les Amis is one of their biggest customers in the world) and the restaurant’s own line of housemade ice-creams.
Naturally, Executive Chef Sebastien Lepinoy has given their menu a revamp too. My host, Merissa Goh who heads Marketing and P.R. for the restaurant, and I had the “Le Menu Été Classique” ($375++ per pax) for lunch. With recommended pairings by Sommelier Fabien and the always top-notch service by Manoj Sharmahm and the team, it was nothing short of exceptional. Here is how it went:

1. Canapés and amuse bouche - Smoothly paced out were three stellar variations of the seasonal “Le Jardin de Rabeleis” tomato starting with a bavarois with bell pepper on an airy-light cheese puff pastry. The second, a favourite of mine and Merissa’s, had the tomato confit in extra virgin olive oil and seasoned in basil and thyme. The final variation was a chilled veloute that layered tomato soup seasoned with peppercorn and EVVO and cucumber in jelly and diced form. It came with a cute anchovy and basil croissant.

2. Bread and Butter - The legendary bread trolley of Les Amis does not quite fit in the Private Dining Room so a tray was brought in. I adored all the breads but the Sea Salt Brioche stole the biggest chunk of my heart. It’s so buttery it didn’t need any of the creamy and clean-tasting @beillevaire unpasteurised butter but that’s fine - more to spread on the other breads 😋😋.

3. Caviar - Resident Caviar Master Patrick Esteves had me hyperventilating with his trio of kaviari_paris caviar. Seems my visit couldn’t be more timely as the new Italian Sevruga caviar of which Les Amis has the lion’s share globally, had just arrived too. Patrick scooped generous helpings of each on mother-of-pearl spoons for us to savour in this sequence: the Oscietre (most briny), the Kristal (creamy and nutty) and the Sevruga (these tiny pearls which were the most complex and intense in flavour, comes from sturgeon fish found only in the waters of Italy).

4. “L’œuf poché en robe verte au caviar, navets glacés” - The other reason for the caviar sampling exercise was so I could choose one (I went for the Sevruga) to add to Chef Sebastien’s stunning new dish. A spin on an old classic that culinary students had to learn to perfect, it featured an immaculate poached egg with a “fountain of watercress” and crunchy turnip beneath.

5. French Sea Bass - Prepared in the Japanese-style of Ikejime to ensure its flesh is at its peak of tenderness and flavour, the fish was covered in paper-thin slices of mushrooms and served in Marinière sauce, surrounded by succulent mussels from the Mont-Saint-Michel Bay.

6. Wagyu Tenderloin - I found this utterly fabulous as the buttery tender beef was given brightness and crunch through a layer of aromats (think capers, mixed bell peppers, shallots and crispy onion rings). Enhancing the dish even more were a natural beef jus, the sweetest French carrots and salad of mixed herbs.

7. Cheese - After Resident Cheese Master Manoj presented the best of the season’s selection, we trusted him to curate a plate for us. And as always, it was perfect especially when accompanied by @chef_sebastien_lepinoy’s olive oil, some freshly baked bread (I love the new round fig rolls!) and the “off dry wine” Fabien chose.

8. Ice-cream - The flavours served in the restaurant are different from those you can buy to take home. So I had the Yogurt, the Pineapple & Rum (this had a strong alcoholic kick) and the Mixed Herbs with Lemon (very bold, it had quite a face-puckering effect on me - amazing palate cleanser though).

9. Dessert - A new creation, the almond-sprinkled Almond Soufflé with Cherries Jubilee (cherries in kirsch liqueur) and almond ice-cream was spectacular. I’d say it’s the best soufflé I’ve had there.

10. Petit Fours - Our 4-hour lunch came to a reluctant close in the loveliest way with in-season apricot tarts, canelés and housemade milk and dark chocolates.

Thank you so much Merissa for the invitation and for gracing me with your company.

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