The name might sound chi-chi, but its roots are as heartland as it comes. The newly-opened Avenue 87 is named after the childhood homes of its two chef-founders Glen Tay and Alex Phan, who grew up in Hougang Avenue 8 and 7 respectively.
The food, too, reflects this deep connection to their roots. While they’ve got a fine-casual, degustation-only setup, most dishes reflect some kind of inspiration from hawker and regional favourites, matched by honest flavours uncompromisingly tuned to local palates. There’s a nod to sambal seafood — octopus leg, grilled on the plancha and topped with housemade sambal, charred market greens, and confit egg yolk for a dish that brings together a few parts of a hawker centre barbecue seafood feast.
Another highlight is the fish soup, here interpreted with locally farmed seabass sitting in a rich fish stock. Rounding up the plate are the traditional fish soup flavours amped up to the next level: an anchovy butter and milk sauce boost umami and richness; bitter gourd, compressed with salt to tame its bitterness and give it crunch; and tomatoes, semi dried to intensify flavours.
For the carnivores, the Vietnamese style baby lamb rack combines deft marination and some TLC on the grill. It’s marinated in a lemongrass-based mix and served with grilled Thai eggplant and a tangy-sweet stingless bee honey sauce. They also have an interesting drinks programme that features everything from homemade herbal teas — complimentary in small portions to bookend your meal — to wines, Asian-inspired cocktails, and even locally-brewed mead.
Bayfront restaurant Forlino – now known as Riviera Forlino – has gone through a couple changes throughout the years, although its recent might be the most drastic yet with a new head chef and a completely new menu. New executive chef Remy Carmignani brings experience from Guy Savoy Paris and Singapore; as well as cities like Doha and Marrakech to present a range of refined, modern Franco-Mediterraneean dishes.
Enter tortellini stuffed with pulled lamb shoulder that’s been slow-braised with house-made preserved lemons, an indispensable ingredient in Morrocan cooking that adds a deep lemon flavour and brightness. Also in the tortellini is funky goat’s cheese cream and saffron. The pasta parcels come in a broth of the lamb braising liquid, and mustard seeds to cut all that meaty richness.
We also like the wild-caught New Zealand langoustine, which oceanic sweetness is cut with a refreshing, tangy tomato jelly and vinaigrette, and topped with young pea shoots.
If you’re there for just one thing though — get the humble-sounding bouillabaisse, here amped up with lobster and plentiful shellfish. While you’ll find generous chunks of lobster, red mullet, and scallops, the star of the dish is the deeply flavourful, crustacean-infused soup-slash-sauce that the seafood sits in. While the dish also comes with a garlic-scented parmentier, save some bread for a sneaky scarpetta.
Fresh on board is also executive pastry chef Nicolas Vergnole, who brings to the table experience from both Odette and La Dame de Pic to present desserts like the Caraibe 66%, an elegantly simple creation of its namesake chocolate, made into a cremeux, served with ice cream churned from GlenFarclas 1978 single malt whisky and salted caramel.