If there is one must-try restaurant in Singapore, it’s André. Do yourself a favor and eschew the fine-dining “chain” establishments at MBS and RWS. Instead, try a place that is uniquely Singaporean and deservedly world-class. The New York Times recently listed Restaurant André as one of their 10 restaurants worth a plane ride, and it is also one of only 3 restaurants from Singapore on the top 100 list. Despite having been opened for some time, the restaurant still commands a 4 week reservation time. The wait however is more than worth it as André is the epitome of what fine dining should be – personal, flawless, and memorable.
The restaurant is a cozy 30-seater that only accommodates one service each evening since the 10-course meal can last 3+ hours. There are no set menu options, but as our party of four experienced, dishes can be substituted or adjusted quite radically on demand. The service here leans more towards warm and casual, always present but never a distraction. Towards the end of the evening, Chef André makes the rounds, spending time chit chatting with the diners and happily answering questions. Even though there were other diners around, the personal attention from chef and staff made us feel like we were the only guests that evening.
The menu each night revolves around what Chef André terms as octaphilosophy. Each course is based on a word, as an individual term, is an apt description of the dish, but collectively, perhaps a bit too abstract as a unifying theme. Nomenclature aside, as diners, we were treated to a wonderful roller coaster ride of flavors, textures, and ingredients predominantly from the South of France. Most of the ingredients are air flown from France some 4 times a week and dishes are often conceptualized day of. The cuisine as described by André is Southern French/Mediterranean, but there were also quite a bit of modernist touches that had our table discussing about cooking techniques all evening.
“Snacks” – this sampler of bites meant to whet the appetite are each as lovingly complex as the rest of the meal: tartare of amberjack, crispy porcini and onion tart, marinated and roasted chicken masala chips, and vanilla and popcorn. Since L, the notoriously fussy non-dairy diner was with us, the chef prepared a few variations for certain courses; the “potato” with garlic soil on a stump for instance.
“Pure” was a subtle but eye-opening first course created sans cooking or seasoning. The color and flavor of the infused purple cauliflower consomme is the result of vacuum sealing the cauliflower in a vegetable broth, effectively steeping it like a tea bag. This is done three times over the course of 8 hours. Add to this a scallop “ravioli” with scallop filling and this course was by and far my favorite surprise of the evening.
“Salt”- the intention was to create a taste of the ocean without adding salt. The result was a royal oyster covered in a seawater gelee and topped with “sea grapes”, paired with a granny smith apple foam palate cleanser for after slurping up the oh so scrumptious oyster.
“Artisan” is a meditation on Andre’s artistic leanings, which also include hand making many of the dishes and cups used in the restaurant. This course featured two relatively simple items served on a painter’s palette. The braised aubergine was brushed with cockscomb and duck tongue collagen while the crème anglaise was lightly smoked and topped with macadamia shavings.
“South” is a tribute to the region of France that André spent most of his professional life. This could be considered two separate dishes: a tomato salad featuring cured flounder with tomato sorbet, and a chilled seafood risotto with blue crab foam, razor clams, and assorted mediterranean fish.
“Texture” was a nice play on color, tastes and textures using arborio rice and squid. The black shell is made from rice and colored with bamboo charcoal (less pungent than squid ink). I’ll leave it to the reader to figure out the secret to the white risotto underneath.
“Unique” was actually two dishes, one cold, one hot, made from the same ingredients but combined to create radically different dishes. By this point in the meal, “unique” was a tall order given the uniqueness of the dishes beforehand. Although the ingredients used could be considered rather unique: white asparagus, black truffles, jabugo iberico (ham), and black bone chicken egg.
“Memory” – ironically I don’t remember what memory represented, though this warm foie gras jelly with truffle coulis is considered André’s signature dish and was indeed memorable.
“Terroir” finished off the savory part of our meal with a french mountain lamb, peas, and french cordyceps (a relative of the very expensive chinese cordyceps). The two non-lamb eaters were treated to an exquisitely cooked breast of a french chicken that really demonstrated the beauty of sous vide cooking.
Lastly, a cheese plate and a sampler of chocolates concluded our meal. I particularly enjoyed the spherical chocolate “bomb” , a nice flourless take on the molten chocolate cake.
Dining at André is not a cheap proposition, but this is the first time that G and I have eaten a meal in Singapore at this price point that I was more than happy to pay. In total, 11 courses and tea/coffee were all included in the set price of $288++ per person. There’s something nice about having a flat price without the icky feeling that the restaurant is more concerned about pennies than providing the best possible experience at a fair price. I was happy that not only did the meal live up to expectations, but also so thoroughly exceeded them that I can’t imagine a restaurant coming along in the near future with a holistic dining experience this memorable.
41 Bukit Pasoh Road
+65 6534 8880