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2012-12-28 8 views
For a complete coverage, pls visit:http://www.epinosh.com/saveur-singapore/Often, haute cuisine has been highly thought of as highway robbery – fair value estimated for its meticulous preparation and luxurious presentation. Some truth in it, yes. Hardly less exorbitant anywhere, except at Saveur where prices are friendly. Less convincing it may be, as we are taught to believe that lower expenditure equates inferior food quality and mediocre taste. To prove otherwise, Saveur could be one that is
Often, haute cuisine has been highly thought of as highway robbery – fair value estimated for its meticulous preparation and luxurious presentation. Some truth in it, yes. Hardly less exorbitant anywhere, except at Saveur where prices are friendly. Less convincing it may be, as we are taught to believe that lower expenditure equates inferior food quality and mediocre taste. To prove otherwise, Saveur could be one that is worth experimenting.
Saveur – a brainchild of 2 Shatec-trained now-chefs; Joshua Khoo and Dylan Ong – has been well-remembered at Foodstall No.3, Ali Baba Eating House when they first started out. I recalled catching a glimpse of this water-bird mascot while walking past the coffeeshop, and wonder why would anyone opened a French stall in such an exhausted small space? And that was probably one of the reason they could shrink their operating expenses in order to serve up “good cuts with a small price tag”. Motivated by Aston’s business model, the 2 finally anchored at Ali Baba (used to be Aston’s first outlet) - the second after the first shop space failed. Driven by the same vision, the duo managed to earn a stream of regulars who make repeated returns; I guess it was due to the balmy services along with superior food quality, attribute to its infancy success. So the crux is, launch a humble start and outgrew that babyhood to a rewarding journey.
Simple casual but not missing out the con-tempo, the dining area was decked in a non-flashy modish outfit, with mascot, distinctive wall paintings that backdrop the area. Nothing too fanciful as well, the menu was kept to a minimal with 8 entree (starters); 6 Plat Principal (mains) with 3 extra side dishes; 3 desserts plus 1 occasional special. You could begin with a nice bread roll that comes with a butter-spread, barely $2. For as little as $4.90, I received a signature Saveur’s pasta for a decent portion, approximately a size of half the mains – amazing “student/elderly concession” fare. I wouldn’t expect something extravagant for that kind of tag and so I have to agree that this pasta dish is a steal without compromising on its taste. I feel good to be poked at when the chili oil smeared my lips, while chewing the sakura ebi that capped the surface of that angel hair – cooked al dente. I have mistook the lumps of pale-looking minced meat for chicken, it was pork which didn’t taste like one. Still, the pasta dish has passed the mark. The foie gras on the other hand fared slightly inferior. Without any bit of crisp, I couldn’t read the contrast between its exterior and middle segment. I have expected the searing to be slightly obvious on its upper cap, but the whole duck liver turned out having a uniform smooth surface. The piece tasted less robust, unlike a richer version I had at Brasserie Les Saveurs which I think its unfair to make comparison since the latter was made to served the fine-diners. Strips and diced apples were infused with port wine and vanilla pod to pair up the soft and melty organ – good effort but will do more justice if the liver was richer in taste. This well-known delicacy in French cuisine appeared less exceptional on the plate, unable to bring out its luxurious character. Even so, I have to highlight that the liver tasted fresh when I tried, as I have saw review that says it has an awful stench which I find unfortunate. Instead, the least expected Duck Salad captured the most votes. Less interesting but the boring greens were made alive when you nibbled at those duck confit shreds – the salty elements (milder than a traditional duck confit) mingled with a hint of tang from the lemon vinaigrette, coupled with some zesty orange wedge, cherry tomatoes, and a few teeny quail eggs, the composition was made to shine on the whole. I would ditch the delicate foie gras and pick the fresh salad when I revisit, barely $5.90 in exchanged for a $9.90.
The Duck Rillette was passable. Melded together like a pâté, the full-bodied duck paste was smooth and soft which I think is commendable. Served cold in a small jar-sized, everyone was eager to slather some onto the accompanying cracker slices – the aromatic spread makes a good rillette dish.
When comes to choosing the mains, it has to be the usual popular selections in ascending order. The braised short ribs dish is one of them, then the duck confit and followed by the pork belly, fish and the chicken came last. But the tasting outcome didn’t follow suit. The sequence has somewhat changed. My vote was duck confit, pork belly, fish and short ribs, leaving out the chicken as I didn’t had them so I can’t judge. Duck confit – a salt cured piece of duck leg poached in its own fats for up to 10hours, is one of the classic French dish. Saveur served a good portion of it without excessive greasiness, tender but slightly dry in the meat. Well crisped skin without any flabbiness, the magnificent crunch was accompanied by less fibrous shred of duck meat each time – not overly rich or briny. Be ready for the aromatic compound emitted from the limb and get ready for the heap of homemade mashed potato which has been dribbled with orange infuse natural jus in circular fashion, together with some sauté shiitake mushroom, orange segment as an accompaniment. Although less than stellar version, it is still a respectable fried item for the price you pay – $10.90. The pork belly scored a few points lower. Visible fats can be seen on its 4-sided walls with a golden blistered skin capping on top. Layers of fats were lined between each lean section, giving its glossy appearance. Reasonable flavoured without much complexity. The crisp skinned is a bliss but I am in favour of a reduced subcutaneous adipose layer though I know others are charmed by the juicy fats in the meat. The meat portion was modest so get yourself filled with creamy green lentils and runny soft boiled eggs that make up the dish. An overall comforting dish. Quite on par with the pork belly, the Sea Bass was presented in its deep seared exterior, waiting to shine in the crowd. Like a home-cooked, this fish reminds me of my mum’s favourite dish in the kitchen. It is hard to strike a balance between the taste and texture of this ocean species, if you asked. Undercooked, it tastes fishy but once its completely done, the fillet turn out having a dry texture. It is a trade off and I go for the taste instead, in all my dealings. As such, I make do with the overly dried fillet though very fresh. While this was less than fortunate, I get compensated handsomely with a pile of sauté potato. Each dice arrived in a creamy interior and a slightly burnt but nice exterior – moreish.
2 notches lower, I rated the Beef Short Rib critically. Braised in red wine, the meat was faced with resistance when forked through and chewy in the mouth. It didn’t seem that it has been undercooked and far less overcooked, but I failed to recognise the rewarding fork-tenderness short rib meat. Kind enough, the beef jus was less greasy, balanced and rich in taste. They had been a bit harsh on the salt causing the button mushrooms and diced carrots to become acrid. But the potato au gratin stood out from the rest. Served in a teeny casserole, it wows with a light crust and each potato layers taste so rich and buttery! Surely, a simple and hearty side dish that compliments the beef. Lethal moment took place in the sweet intoxication outbreak. Appraised in order, the Pistachio Panna Cotta outshone its peer. Sheer sweet but not cloying, the green curd was made both creamier and nutty. Almost clad in pistachio natural green, the dazzling hue was made visible with a bit of colouring. The rich mouthfeel was straightforward and made more pleasant with a faint vanilla scent in between, less of any heaviness feel. Day’s-Special, a section in the menu that you must be watchful of. Today, I tried the playful construction put together by the dessert team. Couldn’t wait to demystify the content, C siting next to me was eager to scoop away the honeyed milk cloud (foam) that veiled the constituent. Upon successful invasion, we saw a mixture of brownish hued ice cream, halved cherries and a pool of shattered crumbs. Interestingly, we found popping candies within the mass and C could hear the explosive sound trapped in my mouth. So amusing! The cherries were instilled in kirsch and that coarse sandy structure was some peanut butter load. Every mouthful was filled with melting cookie dough ice cream along with a bit of tart and sweet, milky & cracking, the formula was hard to break but we managed to unriddle it! I was in great awe of this naughty treats. Try looking out for it when you visit.
Truly zesty – Texture of Citrus is your pick, if you adore the distinctive tang flavour of the blood orange which was made into a gelatin and served with orange granité which I find it appealing especially the fine crystalline texture. The crunch from the crushed feuilletine adds depth to the kicking mass composed by some tiny bits of lemon zest, freeze-dried pineapple and citrus segments.
Slightly expensive with a dollar more, the Chocolate & Hazelnut reminds me of the one I had at Covelli Italian Bistro & Wine Bar but a beet version. A creamy and far from sticky mousse, less intense chocolate flavour and dominated by its candied taste. Made using milk chocolate, the piece is then decked in sourish freeze-dried raspberry bits to average out the overly sweet nature; together with the crushed hazelnuts for some bites, roasted rice puffs, chocolate tuile & praline to complete the beautiful ensemble. Enjoy the moment of visual spell before you start to deconstruct the charismatic art piece. The meal ended with mixed conclusion, neither bad nor extraordinary. Nevertheless, it is worth spending if you have a small budget for a French dining, very decent.
As the business slowly expand from a singly shop space to doubling up at next door, Joshua and his partner has plan for a second outlet in the Eastern part of Singapore for 2013. Most notably, the duo envisioned to grow their business within the social enterprise context while keeping their mantra to bring the affordable French fare to the masses.
Thanks to Estelle for the invite and Joshua for hosting the private session.