Saint Pierre might be two decades old, but the two Michelin-starred French mainstay is not resting on its laurels.
by Weets Goh /
August 26, 2020
There is only one story told at your meal at Saint Pierre. It comes on a card, which you can read if you so wish to. It tells you about the chef’s — Emmanuel Stroobant, if you’ve turned a blind eye to the dining scene in Singapore for the past 20 years — yogic practices and his Zen philosophies. No one is there to narrate the story to you, and there are no anecdotes about family recipes or grand culinary visions. That wouldn’t be very Zen-like.
What is though, is the food. Two decades, three different locations, and countless menus (who could forget Stroobant’s 26-course A to Z extravaganza) on, Saint Pierre is presenting one of its most stripped-back menus yet, to brilliant effect.
Make no mistake however, this isn’t some kind of food-as-art experiment in meditation. There is still all the pleasures one expects from fine dining — the house pour is a brilliantly complex vintage blanc de blanc from De Sousa — but without the weight of performativity or careless hedonism.
A seemingly endless stream of snacks arrives at the table. Like the rest of the meal, these are seafood-heavy, with Stroobant’s signature predilection for Japanese flavours and Southeast Asian herbs. These are tiny, delicate, exceedingly precise morsels that take longer to look at than to eat — from a tiny “taco” filled with cured cherry salmon; to an egg custard topped with olive, shiso, and bafun uni. One of the snack highlights are flat noodly bits of squid, cooked in nori butter and blanketed under lemongrass-scented hollandaise. It’s a perfectly good amalgamation of flavours to begin with, but the dish — mild, chewy squid and airy hollandaise — is grounded with earthy toasted pumpkin seeds.
There is a hefty mound of aged caviar from Yunnan, given the place of honour on a disc of buttermilk parfait and Hokkaido scallop caviar — this time grounded with bits of puffed buckwheat that bring an elemental balance to the dish.
One of the most memorable parts of the meal though, will also be one of the simplest. Hefty Australia marron that reach at the restaurant alive and a deep, alien purple is flash-poached. It’s purposely, and purposefully undercooked so that the succulent tail meat can be finished over a binchotan grill tableside. There’s a moment of frisson — seeing the marron curl ever-so-slightly as it crosses that last degree of doneness from undercooked to perfect. As the tail cooks, it’s brushed with a marron head oil, some of which drips onto the coals with an almost elegant hiss that momentarily fills the restaurant with a smoky crustacean perfume. It is beautiful, and almost makes one forget that you also get to eat the sweet flesh, here complemented with tart pops of finger lime and an earthy turnip tea.
If your indulgences swing a little more traditional, there’s still meat on the menu. Ridiculously marbled A5 Omi beef to be specific; although Stroobant tempers the richness with sweet pops of petit pois and a wasabi-spiked, properly sticky demi glace.
For those fortunate enough to enjoy lactose tolerance, Saint Pierre’s cheese cart is an experience in itself. It’s wheeled to your table, loaded with every manner of lactic delight – from the hard, crystalline, and aged to the gooey and funky – all great with a cheeky measure of Sauternes.