Singapore - Guy Savoy, Marina Bay Sands (long)
Last Saturday, we popped in to Guy Savoy for lunch.
We opted for the TGV menu, four courses for S$150++, two choices for each course. The menu is named after France's express train as they can serve it to you within 90 minutes (presumably a lure to business lunchers), but we decided to take it easy and linger for 3.5 hours. For those on a limited budget, the lunchtime TGV is a great way to sample some of Savoy's signature dishes, such as the much-vaunted black truffle and artichoke soup, and crispy-scale seabass with sweet spices. A tasting menu at dinner costs almost twice as much - be warned that the dinner TGV consists of very different dishes.
Here is the blow-by-blow:
Amuses: Foie Gras on Mini Toasts, Fennel Brunoise in Fennel Soup with Fennel Royale, Waffle with Parmesan and Black Pepper
The tone for the meal is set from the start. Our server stabs the toasts and livers at the table, handing them to you as one would a lollipop. The fennel soup comes in a “Siamese twin” cup, with the second cup inverted to hide a fennel royale, surprisingly firm to the bite. The waffle is finger food given a high-end makeover. All are delicious, and equally fun to eat.
Bread and Butter
Butter is Echiré, both salted and unsalted. You are first served with a tomato fougasse cut up and placed on a single plate at the table, again reinforcing the idea of the guests enjoying and sharing the food together. A further four breads are presented later, of which I recall a cereal roll, a ficelle and baguette.
Hors d’ oeuvres: Jamon Iberico from Joselito ($50++ per plate)
It’s jamon iberico. If you have had it before, I have nothing new to tell you. But isn’t it such sheer joy each and every time to have that pure white fat just melting in your mouth, releasing such a barrage of flavour? The house champagne was poured, a NV blancs de blancs from R&L Legras of Chouilly – a character-laden grand cru champagne and a great coupling with the ham.
First Entrée: Heirloom Tomato Salad, Oysters “two” ways
I haven’t gone down the Thomas Keller route of putting things in speech marks at every opportunity, but the truth is that each of these ingredients were actually presented three ways. First service of the oyster consisted of a Breton oyster covered in nage gelée, and vegetables anointed with oyster purée.
After we were done with that, another oyster was presented on a sweet onion royale, over which our server poured a very aromatic dashi broth. Oyster was just set by the heat of the broth, allowing you to attack it with utensils. The dashi added a very nice dimension of umami.
My recollection of the tomato course is vague (I didn’t have it) – I recall a salad on a "false bottom", beneath which lurked heirloom tomato slices with basil which were later topped with tomato water ice, and a warm heirloom tomato tartare. Emily enjoyed them a lot, and my taste of the tomato tartare was very good, showing the quality of ripe, in-season produce. The wine of choice was a 2007 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot from Vincent Girardin – citrusy and restrained at the start, but little notes of mocha and roasted nuts started creeping in after a couple of hours.
Surprise Course: Potato Stones, Caviar, Smoked Egg Sabayon, Vanilla Sponge, Potato “Tagliatelle”, Nasturtium Leaf (comped; otherwise available only as part of the Menu Prestige at dinner)
Spanking. Bost came over with a dish of eggs and broke them over our potatoes, releasing the sabayon. The flavours of the potato and caviar are clean, savoury and pure, with the sponge adding a deep but subtle sweetness. The tagliatelle were simply fried super-thin shavings / ribbons of potato, gorgeously crisp and not at all greasy. As Bost (who looks like a less flamboyant, more thoughtful version of Keith Urban) explained, he is trying to emphasise “earth” as a theme by presenting the tubers as stones, and also “birth”, with both the eggs and caviar playing a strong supporting role. I can see how some might regard this dish as underseasoned, but for me, it was just perfect.
Second Entrée: Lobster Etuvée with Coral Jelly, Girolles, Peach Foam and Peach Brunoise; Artichoke and Black Truffle Soup with Mushroom Brioche.
I can’t comment on the lobster dish, except from my taste of the claw, it was an excellent specimen and very well-cooked. Emily refused to indulge my girolle addiction, but they looked mighty good.
The signature soup is nice enough without being earth-shattering – at this time of year, black truffles are not in season so I suspect tinned specimens were used, but the layered brioche is buttery, flaky and 100% decadent. To match, a 2006 Chateau le Puy, from Bordeaux's Cotes de Francs. Quite earthy and woody, which worked very well with the truffle and mushroom. I later learned that the 2003 vintage was revealed as the "Ninth Apostle" in the ridiculously popular wine manga, The Drops of God a.k.a. Kami no Shizuku a.k.a. Les Gouttes de Dieu. Apparently many Japanese were prepared to give their left testicle for a bottle, especially after the Chateau's owner refused to release any more bottles into the international market to feed the post-Drops craze. I mean, it was fine, but I won't be sacrificing any parts of my anatomy for another glass. Or even a case, for that matter.
Main Course: Crispy Scales-On Seabass with Swiss Chard and a Sauce of Ginger and Vanilla; Duck Breast in a cognac-infused sauce with eggplant gianduja and eggplant chip
For me, the dish of the day along with the potato stones. The seabass is cooked so that the scales are little crispy bubbles of pleasure, and the flesh is moist and yielding. The chard adds a nice crunch and reins the dish in from being too “wet”. On the side are three vertical bars of mixed spice, shaped to resemble the Guy Savoy logo, which you are meant to "push" into the sauce. Another homerun; if a criticism had to be made, I found the sauce a little over-salted. Again, I cannot comment on the duck, but Emily said it was her dish of the day, so I’m guessing it wasn't too bad.
Afters: Cheese Trolley; Strawberry Textures
Another trolley of Bernard Antony cheeses (Kraft should watch its back – Antony seems to be borderline overexposed in Singapore these days). I chose a beautifully pungent Pont l’ Eveque, oozy brie de Meaux, orange-hued mimolette, two-year old comté and one of my personal favourites, fourme d’ Ambert. The cheeses are in good condition (as good as the local climate would allow but obviously not as ripe as you would get them in France). They are accompanied by slices of walnut raisin bread and two conserves: apricot/rosemary and raspberry/cassis. I sat back and patiently worked through the lot - what a way to spend a lazy weekend afternoon! With this course, a 1999 vin jaune whose oxidative character worked very well with the assertive cheese.
Surprise Dessert: Chocolate Orb (comped; not normally part of the TGV menu)
A sphere of dark chocolate melts under a tableside cascade of warm mango purée to reveal its treasures within: a passionfruit sorbet, mango brunoise and aloe vera. Awesome stuff; if you can’t appreciate the fun and arty aspects of this (check out the yellow paint melting downward in the same direction as the mango purée), please see your doctor.
Coffee / Tea and Mignardises
My cafe latte was merely OK, but then again, M had recently brought me some amazing Ethiopian coffee from his trip to Addis Ababa, so I was right spoilt coffee-wise and probably will be for some time. Guy Savoy does NOT present the dessert trolley at lunchtime. Instead, a perfect little selection of five mignardises is presented: poached egg white with a dab of strawberry coulis, lemon and yuzu macaron, praline of raspberry and coconut, apricot caramel bonbon and mascarpone coated with dark chocolate and almonds. Playing on childhood memories of marshmallows, wrapped sweets and lollipops, the sense of fun and whimsy is kept to the end – a nice note on which to finish proceedings.
Surprise Sorbet: Earl Grey Tea Sorbet with Black Pepper Sauce Anglaise (comped)
Or so we thought. One final gesture – a nice sorbet, with gently palate-cleansing tannin and the elusive perfume of bergamot.
Invariably, comparisons will be drawn between Savoy and Robuchon, as the two luxe French options at Singapore’s Integrated Resorts. However, about the only thing they have in common is the madly-priced wine list, necessarily a function of being housed in casinos.
For me, Robuchon’s cooking has a more disciplined, focused approach - there is more emphasis on seasonality (admittedly it is Savoy’s signature dish, but I don’t think Robuchon or Danzaki would be serving a black truffle soup in July), and arguably more attention is paid to accoutrements and design. I know what I say isn’t going to change anything, but the primary-coloured rims about Savoy's speciality plates (made exclusively for Savoy by Bernardaud, no less) are sooooooo 1980s. Conversely, there is more fun and fancy here at Savoy, and more robust flavours in the cooking.
Just a word on the service here: while it is supremely professional, knowledgeable and competent, it is very correct and almost belies the trickery and surprises that constantly assail your table (even disregarding the comped courses). A little more personality and sense of fun and occasion would not go astray, and I think would accord far better with what the diner is experiencing food-wise.
Horses for courses, is my reluctant final verdict. If you want more of a "party on your plate", I would lean towards Savoy. If you are dining with a bunch of food nerds (I don’t mean this as an insult – I regard myself as one!), you may find more of interest at Robuchon. What I can say with much certainty is that Singapore is very lucky to have both Bost and Danzaki plying their trade for our pleasure.
For more photos, please visit http://julianteoh.blogspot.sg/2012/07/tgv-lunch-at-guy-savoy-singapore.html
RESTAURANT GUY SAVOY
10 Bayfront Avenue
#02-01, Casino Level 2
Marina Bay Sands
Tel: +65 6688 8513
YUMMY!! Those dishes looked beautiful.
Guy Savoy has always been one of my faves in Paris for a long, long time since the 80s/early-90s (others were Michel Rostang, Alain Ducasse & Alain Senderens). Maybe it's just me, but I still can't quite get excited over its Singapore incarnation.
Thanks, klyeoh. They tasted pretty good too ;)
I think I understand where you are coming from. I have never visited the Paris HQ, but I have always understood that much of the charm there was the sheer enjoyment of the experience, perhaps more "fun-focused" than any other 3-star joint. To a point, while I see the same fun focus in the food at the MBS branch, the service is far too serious and proper to pull it off. I'm not saying that they are devoid of personality because they aren't, and we did try to engage them during the meal, but I suspect they are not trained or encouraged to show too much?
Like I said, it's a double-edged sword. Jaded people like me prefer to see everyone playing along, but I can see why people going there for a special evening would rather have the more formal, and I guess more typical, Michelin-star-type service.
re: Julian Teoh
I agree,S$50++ for a dessert is way steep, and not particularly good value given the weakness of the euro. I doubt many (if any) Parisian 3-stars charge more than 40 euros nett for dessert.
I always opt for lunch where possible provided they serve the same dishes at lunch as they do at dinner.