There’s something quite magical about having the chef decide on the menu for you. Perhaps it’s the freedom from having to choose or make a decision, given the multitude of decisions we already make in a day. Or maybe it’s the novelty of not knowing what to expect and being pleasantly surprised when your food arrives. Then again, it’s also about having a happy trust in the chef to select the seasonal ingredients which are at their freshest and in his ability to prepare them in a way which brings out the very best of their flavours.
The menu at Chef’s Table comes as a grid list of ingredients, from which you cross out ingredients that you don’t want in your meal (although I suggest you go in with an open mind, and only cross out anything you’re allergic to—after all these meals are really all about discovery). Chef Stephan Zoisl and his team then take these ingredients and conjure up a series of powerful flavour combinations.
As each dish arrives, it plays a little bit like food Bingo – everyone comes excitedly together to have a go at trying to guess which of the ingredients made their way onto our plates. It’s a whole lot of fun, but more than being just entertainment, the food also delivers fully on taste.
Our first dish is the Cured Mackerel, accompanied by smoked eel, apple gel, puffed tapioca, bronze fennel, oyster leaves, pickled cucumber and basil oil. Oyster leaves are found off the coast of Scotland and are aptly named indeed, for they impart hints of the deep flavour of mollusk to the dish. It is an intriguing ensemble of strong flavours arranged delicately, and really whets the appetite for what’s to come next.
Our second dish is the Lobster Bisque, poured gently over crabmeat, pea shoots, pea blossoms and octopus. The bisque is robust, and sweetened by delicate crabmeat, while pea blossoms add a burst of colour to the dish. We discover that the peas are grown in-house, cultivated in the restaurant’s very own herb and micro-green nursery. They really weren’t kidding when they said that they only used the freshest produce.
Next to the table was the Red Snapper, complemented with artichoke done three ways, green asparagus, bouchot mussels and saffron stock. A golden stock is poured over the bouquet of ingredients, fragrant and creamy. The portion is accompanied by a bright sauvignon blanc (S$16), which sparkles and highlights the lightness of the fish.
Fourth to arrive is the Pork Presa, decorated with dehydrated shallots, roast shallots, shaved truffle, mustard leaves, and coated in a rich caramelized onion crème. This dish is an absolute showstopper. The iberico pork neck is a deep ruby colour, and could almost be mistaken for beef. But bite into it and it yields a deep, meaty flavour that redefines typical perceptions of pork. Shallots cooked in a variety of ways provides a delightful range of textures to dish, and demonstrates Chef Stephan’s mastery of taking simple ingredients and elevating them to create complex, flavorful combinations. The shallot sauce is incredibly addictive, and we wipe it clean off our plates. Mustard generally complements pork well, and the mustard leaves here do an excellent job of imparting the fragrance of mustard without the typical heat that you’d expect. Here, the sommelier recommends to us an Austrian wine called Zweigelt (S$19) that’s full-bodied, spicy and with hints of tobacco—powerful flavours that accentuate the intensity of the meat.
Our fifth dish is the Barbary Duck, which is joined by foie gras, celery crème, chanterelle mushrooms, nasturtium leaves and balsamic jus. Nasturtium leaves deliver a flavour that’s reminiscent of wasabi, except without the sharp pungency that it’s usually associated with. Foie gas and duck breast are natural companions, drawn closer together by the balsamic sauce. Chanterelles add texture and a foresty earthiness to the dish in a way that draws out a complexity of flavours
The sixth and final dish to arrive is dessert—the Flavours of Black Forest. Here, chocolate sponge and ganache, cherry sorbet, fresh Italian cherries, and milk chocolate sorbet arrive atop a smoking crucible that exudes mystery. But all this chemistry is not merely for show. After tucking into the deconstructed black forest cake, we take up our long-tailed spoons and dig into the-196 degrees, nitrogen-chilled treasure contained within. There, a ruby red liquid has transformed into smooth cherry sorbet, a refreshing palette cleanser to round off an excellent meal.
Chef’s Table offers three variations of its menu, in 4 Courses (S$98), 6 Courses (S$128), and 8 Courses (S$150). I’d recommend going for 6 courses at the least, otherwise there’s only so much of Chef Stephan’s creations that you’d have a chance to sample. Portion sizes tend towards the finer side, and so 6 courses gets you to a satisfying place, if you’re not too big an eater.
Chef Stephen has worked in some of the world’s best kitchens, honing his skills at renowned establishments such as Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck. The pedigree shows, and his skill at creating unique flavour combinations and textures is something that you’ll appreciate through a gastronomical journey at Chef’s Table.
Thank You Chef’s Table for the invitation.
|Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan|
|61 Tras Street
Reservations: 6224 4188
Tue to Sat 6pm – 12pm