- When: March 2017
- Michelin Stars: 2
- Male DINK Rating: 11/15
- Female DINK Rating: 11/15
- Total Cost: $1,017; Food Cost: $500
The restaurant’s namesake – Chef Andre Chiang – is very involved in several restaurants throughout Asia, and he is a part-owner of the wonderful Burnt Ends restaurant where we ate lunch the previous day. Chef Chiang spent his early career in France, working his way up at 3-Michelin-starred Le Jardin des Sens (now closed). He eventually returned to Asia in 2008, opening a restaurant at the Swissotel, which quickly made it into The Worlds 50 Best Restaurants list. Two years later, he opened Restaurant Andre. The restaurant currently holds two Michelin stars, is ranked #2 on the Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, and is ranked #14 on The World’s 50 Best Restaurants list.
Restaurant Andre is located in Singapore’s Bukit Pasoh area, a happening area (Burnt Ends is a few blocks away), and is housed in a very tastefully converted three-story shophouse. The second-story dining area is elegant, with white tablecloths and minimal decorations.
Other than the usual suspects (napkins, bread plates, and water and wine glasses), the “menu” was the only thing on the table.
After being seated, the waiter explained Chef Chiang’s signature “Octaphilosophy” menu. As you could have guessed, it consists of eight elements or dishes – pure, salt, artisan, south, texture, unique, memory, and terroir. The only constant on the menu is the memory course: A warmed foie gras jelly served with a black truffle coulis that Chef Chiang credits as his first original creation.
The Octaphilosophy tasting menu, priced at $350 Singapore Dollars per person (about $250 USD), is the only menu available. A wine pairing consisting of “natural” wines is available for an additional $258 Singapore Dollars per person (about $185 USD). Always open for a new experience and to see what the sommelier can do, we opted for the additional wine pairing (more on the wine at the end). Regardless of whether you opt for the wine pairing, though, an evening at Restaurant Andre is not cheap, as reflected by the Total Cost above.
Amuse bouches arrived after a bit of a wait. Among the first several bites were a black cherry bon-bon with sea coral and balsamic, a wild mushroom tart dusted with coriander, sweet green peas made of sea urchin and tarragon, and cauliflower with curry on chicken skin crisps. The bon-bon was surprisingly unsweet with an interesting (odd?) combination of flavors. The wild mushroom tart was meticulously stacked together and tasted good. The chicken skin crisp was a nice, salty addition to the cauliflower curry bite. Perhaps the most unique was the delicious sea urchin and tarragon peas. This first set of amuse bouches were definitely different.
The next couple of small bites were fish and chips served with abalone, abolone liver, and crispy kombu. These were served in a beautiful assortment of the sea. The abalone, thankfully, was not too chewy, and we appreciated the kombu crisp to offset the texture of the abalone. The fish and chips were a fun presentation.
The last set of small bites arrived – potato souffle with beef tartare, horseradish and caviar, a miso, celeriac, and wildflower terrine, and charcoal dough fritters served with a sweet prawn and piquillo dipping sauce. We had high expectations for the potato souffle bite, as we had an incredible bite with similar ingredients at Burnt Ends the previous day. However, this bite fell a bit short of the one at Burnt Ends – the flavors seemed to get a little lost in each other. The terrine was very delicate and had good flavors – celeriac is always a winner. Our favorite bite, however, was the charcoal dough fritters “hidden” among actual charcoal. These had a wonderful savory flavor and became even better with the sweet prawn and piquillo dipping sauce.
After the many small bites, the first course arrived – TEXTURE – smoked swordfish and cucumber mille-feuille, jalapeno puree, and chrysanthemum jelly. Without tasting this dish, our first thought was this is such a creative dish: Thin slices of fish and vegetable to create a mille-feuille…very unique! The flavor, however, was not our favorite. We did appreciate the smoked flavor of the swordfish and the jalapeno puree (even if it wasn’t very spicy). Female DINK isn’t partial to cucumber, so her opinion was skewed from the start of this course. It was very pretty, though!
The next course was PURE – kohlrabi ravioli with stone crab, leek water, and pear snow. This dish aims to showcase its ingredients by not adding any additional seasoning, earning its aptly-named “pure” course. Everything in the dish seemed to be of the best quality, and the individual flavors were quite evident. We particularly enjoyed the flavor of the leek water, as well as the cool sensation of the pear snow. A good dish.
The third course was ARTISAN – 17 kinds of fresh vegetables with smoked basil oil and fermented broth. The broth was poured onto the dish after it arrived, and we were informed that the broth was made from the remnants of the seventeen vegetables. This was one of our favorite courses, aside from its beautiful presentation. The vegetable flavors were intense and went very well together. The star, however, was the fermented broth, which really brought the dish together. Great dish.
Next was SOUTH – scallop lasagna over burnt oysters and caviar aubergine with watercress foam. Thin slices of scallop seem to be making their way across the culinary world. While we enjoyed a stellar version at Alinea last year, Andre’s version was just okay. Male DINK commented that he could barely taste the scallop and did not enjoy the oyster underneath. Female DINK thought the dish was okay, but not great.
The fifth course was SALT – umami squid noodles in kelp jus on potato mousse with barley and puffed grain crisps. At first glance, we weren’t so sure about this one – it seemed like such a strange pairing of ingredients. The first bite, however, was absolutely delicious. The warm, comforting potato puree supported the squid noodles well, and the grain crisps added just the right touch of crunch. One of the best dishes on the menu.
Now came the signature dish – MEMORY – foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis and chives. Just hearing the description of this dish made our mouths water – some of our favorite ingredients all in one place! Sadly, the oily and heavy composition of this course took away from its luxurious ingredients. In fact, it was actually quite difficult to finish this dish – we thought the portion size was too large. We were expecting more from a signature dish.
The last savory course was TERROIR – wagyu beef baked in a soil bed of coffee bean and cacao nibs, served with persimmon and champignons Mont-Blanc. The beef was a great cut, well-cooked, and actually absorbed some of the coffee and cacao flavors. Plus, this wagyu wasn’t overly fatty as it sometimes can be. The persimmon was just the right touch of sweet, and the mushrooms were a nice addition. Very good.
The palate cleanser was “rice 3 ways” – rice ice cream, rice caramelized, and sushi rice crispy puffs. Each preparation of rice had a unique flavor, but all blended together well. Not your traditional sorbet, this was a fun deviation from the norm.
The first dessert course was hand-sliced red grapes with raspberry sorbet and white peach jelly. When serving this dish, the waiter made a very big deal about the grapes being hand-sliced. This was a fairly light and refreshing course, which is always nice at the beginning of the sweet courses. Male DINK wasn’t fond of the flavors of this dish and was unimpressed. Female DINK enjoyed the flavors, but could have used a bit more sweetness.
The last of the Octophilosophy courses was UNIQUE – pickled plum, purple shiso granite, and creme fraiche. Again, several pieces of sliced fruit. Is this really unique? This dish definitely had different flavors than the prior course, but it was perhaps a bit too similar. The creme fraiche was a good creamy addition to the tart fruit flavors; however, we would have preferred a heavier and/or sweeter dish for the last dessert.
Wrapping up the meal were a set of petit fours. Several small bites were served, including root beer lollipops and some macarons. We liked that there were a variety of flavors in the bunch.
Finally, a couple of gummy bears arrived with the bill. Cute and bursting with flavor, these were a fun ending to the meal.
The wine pairing was a little disappointing. We aren’t huge drinkers, but we felt that the pours were very small. Also, the few times that the sommelier topped off our glasses so that we could continue enjoying the same wine with a subsequent course, the topping off was almost an act, as so little additional wine trickled into our glasses. Finally, the wines themselves weren’t anything spectacular. Given the foregoing, we wouldn’t recommend the wine pairing.
One additional note regarding the wine pairing experience: The sommelier does not “present” the wine to you at the table as you are accustomed. Instead, the wine is brought to the table already in a glass, and no description is given. Only after the course (or upon the next pairing), does the sommelier give you a description of the wine and present the bottle. It was fun to test our palates and experience by trying to guess the wines and regions, but it was also a bit annoying not knowing the wine while the accompanying dish was in front of us. Our preference would be for the traditional wine pairing approach.
Towards the end of the meal, Chef Andre Chiang stopped by each table to meet his guests. While we appreciate the chance to meet top-rated chefs, the encounter usually consists of a quick “Hello. How is your food? Thank you for coming.” Andre, however, was very talkative and humble, spending several minutes at each table. He seemed genuinely happy to have us as guests and left us with a great impression.
Overall, the dishes at Restaurant Andre weren’t our favorite. They were all prepared well, with excellent presentation and finesse, but we felt that the flavors never really shone through on many of the dishes (or the flavors weren’t necessarily to our liking). Very few of the dishes were “great.” Still, we believe that Chef Chiang is well-deserving of his two Michelin stars, as the dishes are unique and showcase his creativity and talent, and the service and overall experience at Restaurant Andre were great. If you have the money and find yourself in Singapore, it’s worth a stop.
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