Saturday, March 03, 2007

Finding Wow at Le Papillon

I dine out quite a lot. Thankfully, for the high proportion of my pay check that I plough back into the economy through meals, I usually have good meals. Occasionally, after walking out of a restaurant I feel that I overpaid and the worst case scenario is when I simply feel that I was cheated of my time, money and calories, in those cases I'm usually really pissed and will whinge. But most of the time I’m satisfied, and every once in a while there are moments when the only appropriate reaction I can muster is ‘wow!’ The greatest thing about these ‘wow’ moments is that you never really forget it.

One of those moments happened when I was at Anderson Ho’s restaurant Le Papillon. It was my third visit there, and I was dining with a close friend and fan of Anderson’s who always has a special chef’s menu planned for him. Amongst the seven courses that were planned for the night was a pasta course of prawn oil penne with arugula salad, parmesan and bottaga and it was a showstopper. Not just I, but all four of us around the table at one point or another (probably after about two bites) uttered ‘w-o-w’. It was divine – annoucing its arrival with enticing aromas and depth of flavour that hit many notes and remained well composed. Enchanted, I emailed chef the next day and gushed about it and he very kindly assured me that it was going to be in the next menu and it still remains there today (yay!). Since that day, I’ve become a fan.

My last meal there, the delicious pasta, as I have discovered, currently has evolved and now takes the form of rigatoni with crustacean and seaweed, bottaga, arugula and parmesan. But this time we had a slightly varied form, substituting the bottaga with grilled mentaiko, a hand-carried gift from Japan from Sam to me, and it was still absolutely divine. That was still my favourite dish, but it was also surrounded by other great tasting courses such as its prelude of fresh mud crab salad with tomato gelée and gazpacho espuma appetiser that was had gentle breezy flavours and a good lift from the Tabasco, refined and refreshing. The main courses of skate with lobster emulsion and morels , smoked chicken with onion gratin and braised beef shin were good but I generally prefer appetisers to main courses.

When Le Papillon first opened in 2006, most foodies and culinary critics who had frequented Fig Leaf were excited about the return of Anderson after his ‘sabbatical’ from the culinary scence at SATS. Whilst it opened to positive feedback and reviews, there was a general consensus and I agree, many felt that it had not reached its potential. In addition with many new places, it has it teething problems and a fair share of on and off day, but it is now coming into its form, finding its definitive voice and slowly reaching its potential. At the moment it serves great food and some absolutely brilliant dishes that have developed into signature dishes and found a permanent spot on the menu such as the pesto and feta on watermelon, arugula salad and pedro ximenez reduction, and I think its only going to get better. For me, I feel that in him I have found something that I really relate to in terms of taste. Anderson is grounded in classic French techniques, he understands the local ingredients and he has this wonderful ability of combining flavours that evoke feelings of familiarity and nouvelle in me.

Le Papillon
Red Dot Traffic Building
28 Maxwell Road
Tel: 6327-4177

* See the whole set of photos here.

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Blogger Colin said...

Awesome! Anderson's a great chef and a really nice guy, and I'm glad to see Le Papillon has managed to come into its own successfully.

I'm definitely heading back there once I get back; I have yet to try his famous watermelon and feta cheese dish!

6:12 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey i really love your restaurant recommendations. I have a recommendation too......try the buffet dinner at Amara hotel. only $36 i think on weekends. Very nice and value and money. Nice,warm atmosphere and not too crowded too.

7:11 PM  
Blogger The Hungry Cow said...

Ahh...My heart aches when I see the yummy pics and review of Le Papillon because of what I had missed out on. Glad you guys enjoyed it. :)

Too bad for me, my budget was kinda tight then. But I'll definitely look forward to future such arrangements, hopefully at a better time.

1:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What are the prices like?

10:36 PM  
Blogger joone! said...

colin: i'll go with you!

anonymous: thanks!

thehungrycow: yes, it was a shame you missed out on this dinner. till the next time.

cindy: it was 80+++ without drinks per person.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was having dinner with a group of friends last week and 2 of them were complaining about their separate experiences at le Papillon. They said the food was ok and the service was horrendous! Maybe they only pay attention to those people who are close friends of the owners :P

11:26 PM  

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