Restaurants change and evolve over time. Fine dining and omakase restaurants will almost certainly change their menus according to the seasons, while others occasionally add or remove items.
At Preludio though, this change is built into the very foundation of the restaurant’s concept, where an almost entirely new experience that extends far beyond the food – including tableware, wine list, and decor, is presented periodically. In fact, following the various chapters at the restaurant has become something like awaiting the next book of a best-selling series – and it has become quite thrilling to see what chef-owner Fernando Alevaro and his team has up their collective sleeves each chapter.
Their latest and third effort is a dual menu titled Capture and Release, and it’s further proof that the people at Preludio are somewhat masochists. That’s because they’ve effectively doubled their work by offering two wildly different menus.
One aims to express the purity of ingredients, and is hence titled “Capture”, while the other aims to “Release” flavours, working in a maximalist fashion to explore possibilities. This also means two possible differing experiences (everyone at the table has to pick the same menu), complete with different stories, table centrepieces, and wine pairings.
“I thought it would be easier since we’ve already done two different chapters, but it ended up being more work than anything we had ever done before because we had to develop twice the number of dishes – but the results were worth it,” says Alevaro.
In a way, all bases have been covered with this menu – whether you’re a fan of simple, elegant cooking, or want your ingredients manipulated and shaped into complex creations.
For the latter demographic (it’s what we tried), there seems to be a running thread where the team attempts to put together ingredients and ideas from wildly different categories – with the only commonality being that the final dish has to taste good.
Things start off relatively innocuously with a milk bun that comes with maple-shiso-miso butter, but quickly veers into increasingly complex creations like a basil-infused white chocolate bonbon filled with foie gras terrine and passionfruit; or a craquelin-topped choux pastry with blue lobster, porcini and potato foam, and shavings of black truffle – with all three deftly balancing sweet and savoury elements.
Midway through the meal, things start getting increasingly unrecognisable – in the best way possible. There is a savoury chicken mille-feuille that seems to be the kind of dish an increasingly jaded and gluttonous Roman emperor would call for – with intensely-flavourful layers of caviar, chicken just-infused whipped cream, smooth chicken farce, and crispy feuille de brick, all topped with rice crisps and dehydrated chicken stock.
Then there’s something they call 34 Hours and 2 Stops, a dish for which we had so little frame of reference that we remained skeptical right up till tasting it. In it, ripe, sweet jackfruit – and not the young kind beloved by vegans – is marinated and slow-roasted until tender before being stuffed with avocado mousse and crispy morsels of puffed quinoa. The thing that makes the whole dish though, is the sauce.
To be exact, an intensely savoury mole made predominantly from chocolates and various peppers like ancho and chipotle – each with its own distinct profile – that somehow manages to be comforting, yet incredibly complex at the same time. It’s the kind of sauce where you’d gladly run your fingers down the plate to get that last lick, even in full view of a restaurant full of well-dressed strangers.
The menu doesn’t overwhelm either, and gives you a break from the mental gymnastics needed to process the early few dishes. Rabbit makes an appearance as part of a rib-sticking pasta dish that involves lasagna sheets, bacon fat, plenty of cheese, and black truffle; while veal comes braised and served with pickled pearl onions, mustard seeds, and polenta enriched with mascarpone.
With dessert, pastry chef Elena Perez continues the thread with something called Chlorophyll – a judiciously sweet play on the green-ness of things by combining an earthy edamame semifreddo with herbs, a green apple granita, and a herb juice.
Our favourite of the pair of desserts served though, is a medley of chocolate that encompassed cocoa soil, roasted white chocolate snow, salted praline ice cream, cacao-miso foam, and to cut all that sweet richness, a light, unsweetened cacao tea that you sip in between bites.
182 Cecil St, #03-01/02 Frasers Tower. Tel: 6904 5686