It is not often that I leave a meal satisfied and with a longing to make a return visit with friends or family. Oftentimes when I search for a place that caters to groups, the places of choice can widely swing from cafes to the more prim and proper fine-dining establishment. And usually, when the meal is over, there is always the awkward pressure to vacate the place with little chance for banter. Yet, this is not the case when one considers the communal Sunday Brunch at Audace Bar & Restaurant at the Wanderlust Hotel along Dickson Road.
Audace takes over the space held by the much vaunted Cocotte, housed in the eclectic Wanderlust Hotel just off Little India. The outfit is helmed by Michelin-starred chef Jeremy Gillon, a passionate and affable maverick in the kitchen.
Gillon experiments extensively with techniques that extract the essence of the more than 28 rare foraged herbs that he has in his store, each gathered, dried and shipped to Singapore by his friend in the French Alps. A distinct flavour profile is identified for each herb. It is then carefully coaxed from the plant, with certain taste dimensions amplified and others dialed down. Some are made into syrups, others into crunchy bits of crumble, yet others turned into pastes and sauces. Each is unique, wild, and a fine specimen of food alchemy magic.
Delight in contemporary French Cuisine
We started off our afternoon with the Green Peas Salad, Apple, Reine Des Pres, Almond, a refreshingly green appetizer that exhibits the bright tanginess of green apple alongside the earthier flavours of almond and peas. Reine Des Pres can be found in the damp meadows of the west, and brings with it a subtle, sweet aroma in the form of an amber syrup.
The Egg Yolk Confit, Smoked Foie Gras, Mushroom Consomme arrived next, a show-stopping force of distilled umami essence. It is a play of smooth textures and deep flavours, each ingredient coming together into a comforting whole.
Our third dish of Braised Octopus, Grilled Onion Salad, Roasted Hazelnut, Basil was competently cooked, with the octopus braised to just the right bite. However, while the browned sweetness of the onions and hazelnut aromas worked well together, I find the nuttiness didn’t have the same complementary effect on the octopus.
Following not long after was the Steamed Mediterranean Seabream, Broccolis, Salted Lemon Paste, Black Olive Powder; delicately cooked fish dusted with a black olive powder that surprises the palate with a bittersweet affect.
Arriving next was the meat dish of Striploin Beef, Banana Shallot Papillote, Tarragon Coulis, Dry Capers and Anchovy; the beef was succulent, and imparted with a sweet-salty depth by its accompaniments.
A Ganache with Sorbet to look out for!
Dessert came in the form of the Dark Chocolate Ganache, Roasted Coca Nibs, Monarde Sorbet, a wholly refreshing sorbet set atop luscious, silky-smooth ganache. The Monarde doesn’t shy away, with its bright red petals and alluring, floral fragrance. Together with the crunch brought by the roasted coca nibs, this was one addictive way to round off the meal.
As we sit back with some coffees and pat our satisfied bellies, Gillon walks over and greets us with a wide smile. After a brief round of introductions, he invites us over to explore his extensive collection of herbs. It is an impressively diverse range of flora, and you can tell from the excitement in his voice the profound joy he has from not only bringing in precious specimens harvested from the wild by hand, but also from discovering new ways to unlock surprising flavours from each of these gifts of nature.
It’s rare to find such a combination of passion and skill in taking what the wilds have to offer and making this accessible to diners the other side of the world whom may never have tasted, let alone heard of some of these herbs. But that’s precisely why we should be rooting for mavericks like Gillon, and why we can’t wait to see what alchemy he works next at Audace.
Thank you Audace for the invitation.
Audace Bar & Restaurant
2 Dickson Road
Reservations: 6298 1188
Tuesday to Saturday
Lunch 11.30am to 2pm
Tea 2pm to 6pm
Dinner 6.30pm to Midnight
11.30am to 4pm
Happy 48th National Day Singapore! For all Singaporeans, let us all reaffirm our own individual meanings of what it is to be Singaporean. For those who are overseas, remember that his is home truly, where I know I must be. And for all of us here in Singapore, let’s take some time to reflect what we have did for ourselves, our families, our community and our nation all these years. My island home, there is no place I would rather be.
Mention midnight dim sum, and patrons who know will probably mention Swee Choon. Swee Choon’s late operating hours has always been a draw for supper crowds. As the restaurant opens from 6pm to 6am from Wednesday to Monday, this is probably one of the best places to visit for that late night dim sum craving. Founded almost 50 years ago, Swee Choon Dim Sum Restaurant is located at Jalan Besar, just a short distance from the heart of Little India. It features a variety of Hong Kong and Shanghai dim sum selections, and is well known for its innovative dishes as well as freshly prepared La Main. The biggest draw for me after my visit? Definitely the mouthwatering explosive Liu Sha Bao. There’s something about a sweet salty fragrance in runny custard that is particularly attractive when enjoyed piping hot.
Two more days and Singapore will be 45 years old. In the midst of the celebration, one restaurant with a penchant for local history since its establishment in 1924, aims to bring back the Putu Bola to the plates of diners, as a living memory of a disappearing national heritage.
Through the Putu Bola, Mr. Nadarajan, Managing Partner of the Ananda Bhavan restaurants, aims to revive the nostalgic times with the older generation and even spark new interest with the younger crowd.
In his welcome keynote, it was fascinating to realise that the simple humble white rice ball when eaten with brown, red sugar, and dessicated coconut was once the staple for many families in Singapore during the 1970s. As said by Mr. Nadarajan, Putu Bola was made from the remaining flour used to create the Putu Mayam (string hoppers), and was a “poor man’s dish” with what I believe has a very rich impact on society.
The Putu Bola, Kopi-Tarik, and even a smorgasbord of Indian Vegetarian cuisine, I think its time to visit Andana Bhavan. Continue reading “Ananda Bhavan Brings Back The Putu Bola To Celebrate The Nation’s 45th Birthday”