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European Eats

European Eats

Featuring Firebake - Woodfired Bakehouse & Restaurant, JAAN by Kirk Westaway, Spago by Wolfgang Puck, LeVeL 33, Odette, Iggy's, The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar, OLA Cocina del Mar, Saint Pierre, Maggie Joan's
Veronica Phua
Veronica Phua

G I F T
A few years ago, I was recommended by my French acquaintance Steve Desobeau, to try @fleurdesel_sg on Tras Street, opened by his friend, @chefalexandrelozachmeur. But somehow, I never got around to it, so when the restaurant messaged me recently about sending dinner, I didn’t think twice about saying yes.
Our meal began with a fabulous homemade Foie Gras Terrine to be savoured with onion marmalade on brioche toast. It’s rich and the portion was large, so there was plenty to go around.
Although I enjoyed the sweetness of the ocean’s bounty in the Seafood Boullabaisse (it was served with rouille garlic toast), the Lobster Bisque was the soup that wow-ed me more. A little creamier, it hummed powerfully with the glorious note of that single crustacean.
I was also very taken with the hugely tasty dish of Seared Hokkaido Scallops. Plump and juicy, they were presented on deliciously braised leek with a black truffle chicken sauce. SO GOOD.
I‘ve always been a sucker for beef tongue and have eaten it in different preparation styles but this was the first time I had it cut in such large cubes. And oh man, did they taste marvelous! Cooked with gherkins and baby potatoes in tomato sauce, the large meaty pieces were simultaneously chewy and tender - amazing! If you enjoy tongue, you need to try this.
I realise duck leg confit is pretty commonplace these days but Fleur De Sel’s classic version with its intensely crispy skin and saltyish-in-a-good-way flavour, was impeccably executed. Loved it with the sauteed baby potatoes and lip-smacking mustard sauce. It’s another dish I’d order again at the drop of a hat.
Their Beef Cheek Bourguignon, the epitome of rustic French comfort food, was equally wonderful. Simmered with the pieces of tender meat were strips of bacon, carrots, mushrooms, it was a well balanced stew. In addition, there was a swoon-worthy silky buttery mash to round it off.
A French meal should naturally include a cheese platter, and the restaurant put together a really attractive one with four kinds of French cheese, grapes, dried apricot and walnuts.
Dinner ended on a strong note and I mean that quite literally because the unassuming-in-appearance Rum Baba was potent in alcohol. Paired with the vanilla whipped cream, this dessert had me whimpering in happiness.

You can savour @fleurdesel_sg’s expertly done French classic dishes at home because they are still doing delivery via the popular platforms of Grab Food, Food Panda.

Thank you again Chef Alexandre and Team Fleur De Sel for the generous treat.

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Post-Circuit Breaker and Phase 1 Odette crackles with startling energy. From service to food, there‘s a palpable sense of eager exuberance. And that translated into what I will state for the record as the very best meal I have had at Odette to date.
As usual, nothing matters more to me than how the food tastes, and throughout that evening, flawlessness prevailed in every course at this Three MICHELIN Stars restaurant, which so happens to be sitting pretty at No. 1 on “Asia’s 50 Best” list this year and last. Chef Julien and his team certainly brought their A game and then some.
Dinner commenced with Grignotages which comprised of a modern, elegant gougère with comte cheese, a delicate smoked aubergine tartlette and house-cured sardine cradled in a crisp shell.
The Signature Mushroom Tea with Cep Sabayon blanketed by Manjimup truffles followed. I enjoyed the hit of deliciously-prepared earthy aromas very much.
When the breads appeared, I almost shed a tear of joy, and went at them like my life depended upon, alternating between the very special olive oil and whipped butter to enjoy them with.
Arriving next was Marukyo Uni to be partaken in two ways, with spot prawn tartare and Kristal caviar on a mussel cloud, and a dainty sandwich. I did as told - to start with the former, move on to the latter then return to finish the former. To say this course stunned would not be inaccurate.
Sous Chef Naka Xiong presented the cold Hokkaido scallop with horseradish, dill, and sago seaweed cracker, a dish that silenced our table with its exquisiteness.
It was then General Manager Steven’s turn to play “rainmaker” as he shaved a truckload of truffle over what I term a “Thicc French Onion Soup”, a delectable concoction of caramelly-sweet Cevenne onions, 40-months-aged Parmesan, Amontillado sherry and croutons.
The Limosin Veal Sweetbread (thymus or pancreas of a calf or lamb) which Chef Julien himself brought into our room, was a revelation. Simply roasted with garlic and thyme, and plated with vinjus sauce with a touch of sherry vinegar, it was easily the most delicious rendition I’ve eaten in a long, long time. Apportioned just right, the richness of the sweetbread was countered by a crunchy finish and the sauce. This is the kind of dish that can tip into “jelak” territory in a blink of an eye, so it has to be prepared with sensitivity. There’s no doubt Team Odette delivered.
Anyone who likes crustaceans would be blown away by the Langoustine and Foie Gras Ravioli. And the accompanying sauce, a lavish Laphroaig whisky-laced potion, left us gobsmacked.
I was particularly happy with the grilled Kinki fish plated with tempura zucchini flower and girolles mushrooms that was served next. Again, it was the fantastic sauce that floored me.
Before dinner began, during my chat with Chef Julien, I’d told him I wanted to replace the lamb course if there was one (yes, at that point, none of us knew what he had planned for our menu). But the good man convinced me to give it a try. So I did. Zero regrets. Although there was still a hint of gaminess, I hardly noticed because the perfectly cooked Axuria Lamb Saddle was shockingly smooth and flavourful. The Purple Artichoke, the Menton Lemon and the Jus “Tranché” contributed significantly to my overall enjoyment of the dish too.
When the cheese cart arrived, I couldn’t not indulge in a wedge of the Brie with Truffle and Walnuts, Comte and the sexy-stinky Aged Epoisses. They went well with the mini truffle-topped salad. You bet I was on cloud nine by this point.
The palate cleanser, a precise perfection starring muscat grapes was otherworldly good. So good, one portion wasn’t enough.
Not only were beautiful produce of white peaches from Fukuoka and raspberries used by Pastry Chef Louisa Lim in her dessert but the flavours and textures were artfully combined to the nth degree. I loved it.
Bringing our spectacular meal to a splendid end were petit fours of a lychee and raspberry Ice-lollipop, traditional Canele, sweet Japanese Melon, French Cherries and Chocolate Tart with shaved Tonka Bean.
Odette’s take-home gift, a lovely jam based on Chef Julien’s grandmother’s recipe, is always a welcome treat and a lovely way to extend memories of a meal there by a few days.
In case you are wondering, the total bill for each of us that night came to close to $550 per person inclusive of the two bottles of red wine recommended by Sommelier Vincent. Yes, it’s very expensive but I felt it’s worth every cent.

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G I F T E D
When Chef-owner @aitortxuchef of One-MICHELIN Starred @basquekitchenbyaitor slides into your DMs whispering the magic words to the effect of “let me feed you”, you whoop out loud and give praise.
And when the feast arrives, your jaw meets floor because it exceeds your expectations.
This godsend of a meal comprised of:

1. Basque Charcuterie Platter - The Txorizo and Bayonne Ham (100gms for $25 nett) made the journey without a slice out of place.

2. Artisanal Cheese Platter ($25 nett for 100gms) - There were four: French-Basque Ossau Iraty, Basque Idiazabal, French Sante Maure and South-Central French Bleu D’Auvergne. They came with quince jelly and slices of fruit bread.

3. Iberico Pork Ribs ($38 nett for 500gms) - THE must-have. Coated in a sticky honey glaze, the slow-cooked ribs were tender and irresistibly delicious.

4. Turbot “Salsa Verde” (150gms - $48 nett) - Possibly the healthiest item in that day’s spread as the fish was poached. The sauce was mild, not as acidic or spicy as its name suggests.

5. “Txipirones En Su Tinta” - If you have been following me on Instagram or @Burpple for a while, you’d know I have a soft spot for squid. So this dish which had the squid stuffed with minced meat and onions, and cooked in a sauce of its own ink, was easily one of my favourites. It even came with a side of rice.

6. “Tortilla di Patatas” (100gms for $16 nett) - A thick, soft potato and egg “pancake” that I most enjoyed with the...
7. Piquillo Peppers “Lodosa” ($12 nett) - So silky was the confit peppers from Navarra (medieval Basque Country).

8. Iberico Txorizo Sliders - I was besotted with the baby burgers. Who wouldn’t when you slap juicy, spicy pork patties between impossibly light, soft buns? All house-made, no less.

9. Pipperada ($12 nett) - A traditional Basque tomato and pepper sauce.

10. Classic Mash Potato ($12 nett) - Smooth and silky, like good mash should be.

11. Burnt Basque Cheesecake ($16 nett) - Baked with Idiazabal cheese, this was sublime. So sublime I didn’t want to share it.

You can have a meal just as stupendous at home by ordering it at:

https://basquekitchenbyaitor.oddle.me/en_SG

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This corn was something else. Having been seasoned with smoked ricotta cheese and black pepper, those sweet kernels boldly danced away on our tongues. Easily the unanimous favourite.

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If you are a fan of anchovies, the Pissaladière or caramelised onions and anchovy tart is sure to please you like it pleased me. The crust of the one here is a little more cushiony than crisp and flaky, so it can be pretty substantial. I like that they have black olives strewn on as well. Their delicious saltiness is what I am always hoping to hit.

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Worth every cent this was. And at $17++, it’s not even pricey to begin with.
The Spanish Suckling Pig, a special item available on the Sunday we visited, was chockfull of chopped pistachios, Swiss chard, spinach, pork liver, cured pork fat, marjoram, parsley and chervil. As crisp and tender as the encircling skin and meat were respectively, it was the stuffing that I was more captivated by. Properly seasoned (unlike some places that are reticent about committing to such an important part of what makes or breaks a dish), it was moist and superbly flavourful.
If you like pork and happen to spot the Porchetta when you visit, I suggest giving it a try.

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It’s only been a couple of weeks since @bbrbyalainducasse officially opened at the iconic Raffles Hotel but based on our lunch there last Sunday, it feels like they have settled in very nicely.
I use to visit this venue in its previous incarnation of the “Bar & Billiard Room” quite often, mostly for their buffets. It certainly looks and feels like a different world now as the space is much brighter being predominantly white with accents of reds, copper and gold.
I like how the menu at BBR is designed to cater for whatever you are in the mood for, including a few of their signatures grouped into a Tasting Menu at $128++ per pax (ideal for those who want to try a bit of everything). All diners get served a little snack to start regardless - it was a tasty foie gras and vegetables pastry for us. The appetisers here can double up as small plates for sharing if you prefer a light meal - these are very affordably priced between $9++ and $28++. From this section, we ordered the salted cod fritters, mini sandwiches filled with pesto with parma and the caramelised onions and anchovy tart (to me, it’s more like a thin pizza as the light crust is a bit substantial). The two of us enjoyed them very much, along with the off-the-menu Barbajuan, pillows of pastry stuffed with spinach, swiss chard and ricotta that came compliments of Sous Chef Iswardy.
As the above was already really filling, T.H. and I opted for just one slice of the Porchetta. It’s a special of the day which Head Chef Louis Pacquelin had tempted us with when we were first seated. Served with some fresh salad, the Spanish suckling pig proved uber tasty. I found the generous stuffing of pistachios, Swiss chard, spinach, pork liver, cured pork fat, marjoram, parsley and chervil to be perfectly seasoned and so flavourful ($17++).
Throughout all this, the ever-cheerful Sommelier Justin Wee plied us with some great wine recommendations to accompany.
We had tummy space to split a single dessert and the housemade pistachio ice-cream with strawberries I picked was unbelievable. Highly recommended you order this if you are a fan of pistachio ice-creams because theirs is outstanding.
Service at BBR was good too - smart and friendly. We will definitely return.

Here’s a brand new creation by Chef de Cuisine Mirko, and it is an absolute winner in my book. Named “Autumn Harvest”, it showcases the vegetables of the season depending on what’s available on the day. The aromatic, luscious cream, composed of almond, quince and essentials oils, pairs very well with the inherent sweetness of the uber fresh produce.

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For my belated birthday treat from a friend, I chose One MICHELIN Starred Braci because the contemporary Italian restaurant has been on my list for ages.
We loved the housemade bread that was the first thing to arrive on our table. Named “Pane di Altamura”, it’s made using remilled durum wheat from Altamura in Italy’s Alpura region. It even has to pass the strict criteria of having a 3mm crust.
Following that, every one of the courses in the lunch set we had, was impeccable in presentation, freshness and flavours.
Both our appetisers, the raw Scallops dressed in rhubarb and fermented cherries, and the Baby Gem with white sesame and apple chutney, were superb. So too the mains of Veal Cappelletti (handmade pasta stuffed with truffle taleggio cooked in a sauce of 5 peppers jus) and the crisp-of-skin Italian Seabass (plated with pumpkin, radish and chard). Enormously gratifying in their own way they were.
Although the lunch set had only one dessert, it triggered wide-eyed wonder with its masterful combination of white chocolate, blood orange, pineapple and Yamazaki whisky.
Our wonderful meal came to a close with petit fours that were the embodiment of refinement and delectability.

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H O S T E D
What a difference time makes.
Right at the beginning, within the first couple of days of Chef-owner Richard Vvan Oostenbrugge’s restaurant opening, I had my first meal there, and had left feeling a tad perplexed by a couple of the courses. My second visit a few days ago, barely 48 hours after they got awarded One MICHELIN Star, fared much better. And not because it was a 4-hands with Chef-owner Thomas Van Santvoort of Restaurant Flicka in Netherlands either, although it was wonderful to have the opportunity to taste his cooking.
I personally feel the food by the Table65 team has improved a lot across the board. Every course was impeccable in terms of presentation, seasoning, balance in flavour, and hence, the much tastier results. The dishes I wasn’t sure about previously were almost unrecognisable to me which indicates the progression.
From the many courses that came my way at this 4-hands event, what I loved most were Table65‘s signature snack of pompano, coconut and combova, dill and calamansi (so vibrant an appetite-awakener), Flicka’s turbot with mace, shallot and smoked butter, and Table65’s beluga caviar-topped “bone marrow” with veal tartare (I was struck hard by how good it has become, to be frank).
The desserts by Pastry Chef Jurgis have always impressed, even from my first meal at this restaurant. This time, apart from the iconic “Apple”, he prepared for us a light-as-air marvelousness of yogurt calamansi ice-cream, salad of virgin olive oil-dressed blood orange, lemon and rose water crowned with a voluptuous bloom of blood orange foam and a sprinkle of crushed frozen rose petals. It was pure romance in dessert form and it tasted divine.
I highly recommend kicking off your evenings here with a concoction by Bar Manager Lilli If you like Pina Colada, do tell her because she makes a fabulous version.
And if there’s anything you need, don’t hesitate to speak to Kevin the Restaurant Manager or his team. They helped me obtain a portable charger when I needed one.

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H O S T E D
Since he joined at the end of April from La Brezza at the St. Regis Singapore, Executive Chef Armando Aristarco has been busy. Under his watch, the quietly elegant European restaurant at the Grand Park City Hall seems to have become imbued with some of his irrepressible verve. Or at least, that is what comes through for me in his food.
Every meal here is bookended by trolleys - of housemade breads (4 kinds are served at any one time with butter that’s also churned in-house) and desserts (Pastry Chef Ambu ensures it is a buffet on wheels) that you can choose to have as much of whatever you like from.
At our lunch, a delicious bite of lobster with burrata was served to tease our palates. From the appetisers that followed, I found the 62-degree egg with aged Parmesan-Reggiano fondue, asparagus and truffle, the loveliest ($28++). Tied in second place, the fresh Hokkaido Scallops with cucumber and juicy Beef Tataki with pumpkin ($20++ each).
Being Italian, Chef Armando’s carbs are, not surprisingly, a force to be reckoned with. His Carnaroli Risotto, a pot of flavourful chewy grains with duck, foie gras and cauliflower, was immensely rich and flavourful ($38++). I was so infatuated with his simple but fabulous Fresh Fettuccine I posted about it practically on-the-spot. Seriously, everyone at the table couldn’t get enough of that pasta dressed in sage butter and truffle either ($38++).
Chef’s proteins were enjoyable as well as evidenced by the short work we made of the crispy-skinned Organic Spring Chicken and the Josper-grilled Iberico Pork.
We grazed across a few desserts as lunch drew to a close. Although I could appreciate the charms of the Champagne Jelly with berries and Chocolate Soufflé, it was the Raspberry and Coconut Crumble that my spoon kept gravitating towards again and again.

Besides the a la carte menu, Chef Armando also offers a Business Set Lunch (3-course: $42++, 4-course: $49++) and a 5-course Degustation at $88++.

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H O S T E D
Think of this as a seafood version of the classic Shepherd’s Pie. Under all that prettily-piped potato and gruyere mash are big pieces of smoked haddock, salmon, cod, boiled eggs and prawns. It’s got a bit of broth at the bottom so it is not a dry.
One thing you should note, the serving size for this is really big. Honestly, I feel it can easily be shared by two or three people.

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Follow me on Instagram (@veronicaphua) for much more content! 😊

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