Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Breaking up is hard to do …

Saint Pierre
3 Magazine Road
#01-01 Central Mall
Singapore 059570
Tel: (65) 6438 0887
(not open on Sundays and Saturday for lunch)

Foie Gras Classique

My love affair with this restaurant is hardly a secret, and I would have recommended this restaurant to anyone in a heartbeat. I’ve loved Saint Pierre for a long time and my previous experiences as a diner there has always left me thoroughly satisfied, wanting more and dreaming of my return visit. However, sometimes there comes a time in a relationship where you know you have to go let go, move on and go your separate ways for a while or longer.

Dinner was disappointing. The company was fantastic, but the dinner was just about par, which is rather disappointing for this award-winning restaurant. There was a few moments of “mmmm, this is nice”, but there were also moments of “ermm.. what is this?!”

Let me explain,

Nosh: We had the degustation menu (summer 2005)

maison joulie salmon roe scented potato blinis with wasabi tobiko, organic lime scented crème fraiche and new harvest oscetra caviar

Any form of caviar is rather good on its own. The wasabi tobiko was interestingly balanced with the lime scented crème fraiche, but the blini was a little dry and hard, and it seemed like it was sitting around for a while rather than cooked a-la-minute.

nicolas potel japanese tomatoes crusted with fleur de sel served with gazpacho granite

Kudos to using quality ingredients, and to preserving the integrity of the various elements, resulting in a fresh summer dish.

live red claw crayfish poached in chardonnay scented court bouillon

This was well executed, the crayfish wasn’t overcooked, and the sauce was rich but not too heavy, topped of with some flavoured oils, it was simply presented and good to eat.

nicolas potel warm salad of escargot petit gris with dentelle bread, caramelized garlic and carpaccio of organic mushroom with asparagus shaving

Creative, innovative, and wonderful balance of flavours, this is my pick for the best dish of the night. The vegetables brought freshness and crunch against the deeper flavoured escargots. The salad dressing was fantastic; very modern-Asian tasting with a hint of soy sauce and something that I can’t quite decipher.

dashi poached lobster with roasted foie gras terrine, avocado puree, green cabbage effeuillee with lobster coral vinaigrette and iced green crab soup

The terrine was wonderful, but the iced green crab soup was a little too rich and had a bitterness that was rather sharp and made it difficult to swallow. Alternatively, you could pour the soup over your terrine and eat it together. The green cabbage was too bitter on its own, but with the terrine it isn’t too bad and it helps balance the smooth, rich creamy foie gras.

classic pan-fried foie gras with caramelised green apples and old port sauce

The signature and the plat de la resistance that was heavily anticipated fell flat. The foie gras was OVERCOOKED.

maison joulie white miso marinated cod with tomato confit, mango, slow braised organic onions, wild thyme, caramelized giant garlic and nasu in shiraz dressing

Scene at the table:


Waiter (arrives with plates): This is the miso cod, enjoy

Us: Thank you.

H (picks up fork, pushes the tomato confit and mango off the cod, cuts a piece of cod and puts it in his mouth, chews, drops his fork): This is bad.

N (eats cod): Yes. This is bad.

Overcooked, the cod had no more firmness and crumbled. All its natural juices were gone that it hardly tasted like cod, it tasted like a flaky fish.

rosemary scented chargrilled lamb saddle with etorki and piquillos infused fork mashed ratte potatoes, green bean flageolet and piperade dressing

This was slightly redeeming after two rather disgraceful courses, the lamb was cooked to a nice medium rare, good but not “wow”.

domaien de durban whole lemon confit filled with citrus flavoured soufflé served cold

I’m not big on sweet, so I didn’t quite take to this, although if you like lemon tarts, you would like this.

grandma stroobant flourless belgian chocolate cake with acacia tree honey tuile, tahitian vanilla ice-cream and caramelized apricot sauce

This was comfort food, a wonderful moist, chocolate-ly cake that wasn’t too sweet, with the crispy and sweeter tuile, creamy and colder vanilla ice cream and the sweeter and slightly tart apricot, would leave you saying, “mmmmm…”


The menu is seasonal and always sounds interesting, but the main stay-ers on the menu are the foie gras classique, the duck confit, rack of lamb and the miso cod. Chef Emmanuel is innovative and creative with flavours, and the menu can sound rather intimidating to the uninitiated, but that’s the beauty of the food at the restaurant - the layering and the balancing of flavours. The flavours and the menu is still captivating and the plates that are presented are still simple and elegant, but the cooking is occasionally careless, which is a real let down for such a reputable restaurant. Dry overdone fish is terrible, and the quintessential foie gras being overcooked is toeing the line of unacceptability.

Pay: S$90+++ for the degustation, additional S$65 for wine accompaniment, S$12 for classique foie gras, and S$10 for cheese plate.

A-la-carte will set you back about S$80-S$100 for 3 courses.

Service: Very efficient with the water and bread, with small inconsistencies. Some waiters will serve us ladies first, but some would just serve whoever they were closest to first.

On the flipside, an unfortunate incident happened when we were there. When we do go out to restaurants to celebrate events, I the family/resident concierge will usually tell someone in the restaurant to prepare something as a surprise and the restaurants are usually more than happy to help you celebrate and to partake of your joy. The last time we celebrated something here, they made a lovely dessert platter for us. I forgot to tell them on the phone this time, so I arrived at the restaurant a little earlier just to talk to the waiter to inform them of what we were celebrating and they said that they could arrange something, and so he said, maybe a welcome drink or something, which I thought that was wonderful and good until I little shell-shocked when I found an additional S$70 on my bill.

There are two issues I’m in contention with. Firstly, if you had every intention of putting something on my bill, there is something ethically wrong about picking out the most expensive item and putting it on my bill without much consultation. Secondly, as a wait staff, I don’t think they offered a good explanation for miscommunication and worse still, offered no apologies, and a very feeble attempt at trying to appease the situation, it left a rather bad taste in my mouth.

With much regret:

Dear Saint Pierre,

I'm sorry, things have changed. You have changed. It is you, not (maybe) me.



Blogger M. said...

I thought I clicked onto my own review on St Pierre! What a coincidence - was there Monday night, also had the degustation and also dissapointed! Looks like St Pierre lost 2 customers pretty quickly.

3:44 PM  
Blogger Chubby Hubby said...

I, for one, have never really thought much of Emmanuel or Edina as people--having met them way back when they were working in Fig Leaf--and don't enjoy spending money in places owned by people that I don't think are very nice to begin with.

4:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank goodness for your words of wisdom, I was looking forward to finally trying the degustation menu at St Pierre this summer after reading about it for the last couple of years but never had the chance... would have been sorely disappointed had I done so. Have you been to Vis-a-Vis on Chun Tin Road? And which other French resturants would you recommend in Singapore? - Rachel

10:17 PM  
Blogger joone! said...

Rachel: I've been to vis-a-vis, it is good, but it is a little pricey. one of my favourite places to go for lunch is au petit salut at holland v, it served good food for a very reasonable price. other than that, ember is pretty good, iggy's cooks great food but at a price, salt offers interesting fusion dishes, the last time i was at les saison it was pretty good too, another that pop into mind are st julien, but they are all pretty pricey, but that's french food in singapore.

11:08 PM  
Blogger Amanduh said...

I'm disappointed! I haven't even tried St Pierre yet and it's already downhill. :(

6:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

My experience at St Pierre in March 2005 was similarly disappointing. The foie gras in port wasn't even crisp. IMO, the foie gras at Sebastien's is much tastier and bigger.

Stroobant was socialising the whole evening. I believe he probably hadn't cooked at the restaurant for ages, what with interviews, new restaurants et al.

I noticed the same phenomenon at Chef Kang's in Joo Chiat.

The lauded chef no longer cooks, he 's too busy enjoying wine with his clients.


6:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks a lot Joone! :) Can't wait to check out all the new (and not so new) places when I finally go home next week... - Rachel

7:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

my two cents worth, didnt think too much of St Pierre when I first tried it some time back but I cant say I've been a fan of French cuisine. That said, perhaps out of context, I thought L'Angelus on CLub st served up decent rustic french plus i heard there's a sister outlet just on Ann Siang Hill. Personal love Italian... anyone tested Oso?

10:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chef Emmanuel Stroobant’s flair for blending classical techniques and flavours with exciting modern twist makes for a perfect dining experience.

3:41 PM  

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