Our assigned table wasn't really an ideal place putting us against a ceiling to floor mirror. It made us felt as if the whole restaurant was watching the both of us eat. However this was soon forgotten as we settle in to the nice hot rolls with butter after our orders were taken.Usually I take it that if a restaurant can start your dinning experience with quality bread rolls, the rest of the food should be just as good.
The amuse bouche was a shot of Puree of Curry Spices Infused Vegetable Soup with Creme Fraiche. Given the cold winter weather, this was a palate warmer with flavours of lentils, mirepoix vegetables and curry spices cooked in harmony. The creamy smooth texture and subtle spices was followed by a velvety finish created by the dollop of creme fraiche.
With our tummies warmed up, we took on the two separate appetizers. N had picked a Ballotine of Cured Foie Gras, Mallard and Plums with Roasting Juices, Apple and Hazelnut Vinaigrette. Consider it was an appetizer, the serving portion to me was consider quit generous. A smooth blend of foie gras with a plum stufing was encrusted by pieces of duck meat and wrap with proscuito. Upon slow roasting, the ballotine was chilled before slicing and served with some of its roast jus. A lovely Apple and Hazelnut vinaigrette helped to cut the richness of the foie with the right level of acidity. The brioche bread served was a lovely cushion to the delicate foie gras and we used the extra bread to mop up the wonderful juices and vinaigrette.
I opted for the Caramelised Veal Sweetbreads Croustillant, served with Cepes Bolognese and Tomato Jam. Sweetbreads are rarely served in restaurants in Singapore and few chefs here put them out on their menus here. They are the most prized of all offals for the mild taste,velvety texture and multi cooking techniques versatility. Usually sourced from lamb or veal, sweetbreads are either the thymus glands or pancreas from the two types of young cattle. Chef Raymond presented his sweetbreads as appetisers in a very innovative way. Wrapped in spring roll pastry and tied around with fine noodles or pasta, it was sliced and deep fried to a lovely crisp. A tarty Ceps Bolognese which is actually replacing the beef in the classical sauce with fresh meaty Ceps (Porcinis) mushrooms served as a condiment to the crispy sweetbreads. The earthy meaty mushroms gave the Bolognese a signature mushroom character which was nice compliment to the delicate sweetbreads. The taste was further enriched by the tomato jam and having all three in your mouth at one go evoke a nostalgic, rustic feeling of eating sweetbreads in a mama Italia restaurant in Ventimiglia some years back.
For main courses I opted for a Poached Halibut with Green Pea Puree, Dorset Crab Canneloni. Culinary artistry denotes that green as a food colour should more often be a compliment than a main. Not that it is not possible but when attempting to be the latter, the chef must know how to execute it in the right way. My dish was dominated by a leafy green but Chef Raymond had cleverly put it to the background and allow other ingredients to stand out. The poached halibut steak was crowned with a fine brunoise of proscuito, yellow and green zucchini that was held together by a layer of green pea puree which made look like a fine piece of work. Wondering why there was no sauce for fish, bitting in i had the answer. The fillet was very succulent and moist and was very well complimented by the pea puree. The slight buttery note of the fish enhanced the pea puree and the little bits of salty proscuito gave it a cheeky contrast to the sweetness of it.
The crabmeat stuffed canneloni with shaved black truffles and a light creamy foam was also a worth mention on its own. Filled to the bream with the sweetness of Dorset crab, the spinach coloured canneloni was showered with a fine shaving of black truffles giving it a colour constrast, flavour infusion and most importantly lifting the peasant dish to a new level of finesse supplemented by the light creamy foam. On bite, the taste combination of crabmeat, pasta and truffles were fantastically bonded together by the creamy sauce. I could just eat this on its own as a main course on another day!!
Feeling in the mood for meat, N decided to go for the Scotch Aberdeen Angus Fillet. Sitting on a bed of wilted spinach, the bacon wrapped tenderloin was cooked to a beautiful medium doneness and topped with a sinfully rich piece of bone marrow. This gave a lot of tallow-like beefy notes to the fillet, enriching the taste of the meat when you bite on it. The side garnishes to the tenderlon was equally as interesting. Since it was winter where savoy cabbages are in season, the chef used it to make a layered vegetable terrine that also included bell peppers. and bacon. A small side selection of buttered parisienne vegetables completed the whole masterpiece.
The menu took a break at this point and we were each given a small shot of lemon sabayon. While the sabayon was very good on its own, I found the whipped cream too generous for my liking.
Desserts were a difficult lot to choose from as everthing look so good as described. Finally we took on two different items with opposite ends of taste, texture and flavours. N chose the Mille Fuelle of Sorbets with Pineapple wafers and a Minestrone of Fruits while I went for the Composition of Chocolate with Apple Caviar. The presentation for N's dessert was awesome with a variety of sorbets that included flavours like raspberry, lime and mango sandwiched between layers of pineapple wafers sitting in a bed of assorted fresh fruit dices that were cooked compote style resembling like an Italian Minestrone soup. Overall the fruity light flavours and tangy sorbets were a palate cleanser before we hit on my dessert. The chocolate composition included three quenelles of different chocolate flavoured mousse, a chocolate tulie and a fudge covered old fashion sticky chewy dark chocolate cake. The apple caviar referred to coloured sago pearls cook in apple juice which i found it totall insignificant to the dessert. Hazelnut praline, white chocolate and dark chocolate made up the flavours of the mousse combination and their taste was absolutely creamy rich yet light on the palate. The hazelnut chocolate mousse was my favourite with the aroma and taste of roasted hazelnuts coming through and a hint of what i could be Frangelico Liqour. The chocolate cake was sinfully rich but thats how it should be and it also went naturally very well with the three different mousse.
Sweet endings of toffee flavoured fudge and cocoa dusted chocolate ganache sent us off with sugar highs into a one of best nights of dinning in London.