[Review] Sakura Afternoon Tea at Conrad Centennial Singapore



Over the Good Friday/ Easter long weekend, we enjoyed a delectable Sakura Afternoon Tea ($45++/ $49++ for weekdays/ weekends respectivelyat Conrad Centennial Singapore.

Sakura Afternoon Tea

Available from 14 March till 02 May 2022, the set consisted of with 4 savouries, 4 sweet treats and classic & raisin scones, with a choice of Brazilian Coffee and Ronnefeldt Tea

For a more indulgent experience, one could even top up S$20++ per person for unlimited Prosecco.




Welcome Drink

A refreshing Sakura Blossom Welcome Drink was served at the start of the session. It was a pleasant surprise, as we weren't expecting it.



Savoury Items

The savoury items consisted of Smoked Salmon with Avocado and Caviar on Toast, Egg Mayo with Caviar and Rose ButtermilkSakura Chicken on Tomato Bread and Sakura Brioche Skagen with Shrimp and Tobiko.












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Sweet Treats

What really caught our attention were the various desserts which were simply a sight to behold: Red Velvet Sakura Mousse with Raspberry Jam, Sakura Cheesecake, Sakura Puff with Cherry Blossom Jelly, Sakura Tart with Strawberry Compote and Classic & Raisin Scones with Homemade Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

Indeed, they were painstakingly handcrafted to bring out the delicate flavours of the pink cherry blossoms.




Overall

Overall, we really enjoyed the relaxing afternoon over the various cherry blossom-themed treats, and we would count the Sakura Puff with Cherry Blossom Jelly and Sakura Tart with Strawberry Compote as our favourites. 

The cosy ambience and attentive service made it a memorable experience, and we highly recommend this for girly and couple dates.





PS: Do look out for the signature Conrad bear aptly donned in Japanese kimono at the lobby!







C
Conrad Centennial Singapore
Lobby Lounge and The Terrace 
 2 Temasek Blvd, Singapore 038982

Sakura Afternoon Tea
Weekdays: $45++/ person
Weekends: $49++/ person 
2 seatings: 1pm – 3pm or 3:30pm – 5:30pm

Website: https://www.connoisseur.sg/dreamy-sakura-afternoon-tea/

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[Review] Fine Dining Cantonese Cuisine at Summer Pavilion


Recently, the hedgehog celebrated his birthday at Summer Pavilion, a fine dining restaurant that serves Cantonese cuisine at Ritz Carlton Singapore. 

We chose the "Peony" 5-course Dinner Set at S$128++ (excluding Chinese tea). Most dishes hit the right spot, and we highly recommend this set.






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1) Appetiser


For starters, we had the Barbecued Iberico Pork with Honey Sauce and Wok-fried Prawn in Soy Sauce. The iberico was tender and juicy while the prawn was succulent and flavourful too. Standard stuff, albeit done to perfection.


2) Fish


The Poached Dong Xing Grouper Fillet with Fungus and Baby Cabbage in Fish Stock was the highlight of the evening. The fish was really fresh, so fresh I imagine it must have jumped out of the aquarium straight into the chef's piping hot pot. 

The delicate flesh was immaculately white as snow. And with that rich fish bone broth, in essence, it was simply divine. We have always been a fan of double boiled soups, because they have this profound calming effect, and gives you a sense of nourishment. Reminds us of the really delectable fish we had at the 3 Michelin starred Lung Kin Heen in Hong Kong about a decade ago.


3) Abalone


The Steamed Australian Abalone with Minced Garlic was outstandingly well executed too. Haven't had such a juicy, succulent and flavourful abalone in a long time. Every bite was bliss. The only abalone that compares to this would be the Tasmanian abalone we had at Waku Ghin some years back.


4) Beef


The next dish was the Pan-fried Japanese Wagyu Beef with Steamed Glutinous Rice and Scallion. The robust flavours from the Japanese wagyu harmonized well with the more subdued taste of the glutinous rice, which was charmingly delectable without overpowering the taste of the wagyu.


5) Dessert


For desserts, we chose two dishes: Chilled Peach Gum with Pear and Osmanthus and Herbal Jelly.

If there is anything to be unhappy about, it is probably the dessert. Compared to the mains, the desserts seemed more like the chef's afterthought. I mean, at this price point, one would expect better. Not that it's bad, but it just feels like not much effort has been put into the dessert compared to the other courses. And it's not like you cannot find herbal jelly and peach gum from any regular restaurant these days. Or even at Colony downstairs. Buffet quality desserts certainly don't belong to fine dining establishments. This is rudimentary stuff. If you are looking for good Cantonese dessert, we highly recommend Cherry Garden.


Overall










Overall, we enjoyed this set very much. There was no filler and every dish pulled is weight except for the desserts which felt a tad underwhelming.


The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore 
7 Raffles Ave, Singapore 039799


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[Review] La Dame de Pic: French Haute Cuisine at Raffles Hotel


Restaurant Andre, Guy Savoy, Joel Robuchon, Jaan, Les Amis, Odette, Saint Pierre. We are sure these dining establishments need no introduction to those of you who have been following the dining scene in Singapore over the years. They are the quintessential juggernauts of the French fine dining industry.



Background of French Dining Scene in Singapore


For those who are unacquainted with the abovementioned names, the short story is that some of these restaurants helmed by the protégé's of some of the most highly acclaimed and esteemed chefs in the industry, had to close their doors after just opening for a few years. And we at the hedgehogknows, as you can probably guess, are huge admirers of French haute cuisine. Such news was a bit of a downer for those who love French gastronomy.

We are not sure if you recall those days when Chef Andre and Julien Royer were helming Jaan before they decided to venture on their own. Or when Joel Robuchon restaurant and L'atelier de Joel Robuchon restaurant opened at Sentosa near Universal Studios. Those days were the renaissance of French cuisine in Singapore, representing the pinnacle of excellence of French food. The hedgehog was there, and those were his first forays into appreciating what the French had to offer, and shaped the hedgehog's worldview of just how good food can be.



The Demand Today for French Fine Dining


So we were left wondering whether there was still a market for French fine dining in Singapore.  After all, spending 3 hours on a meal is a luxury, and not only does a potential diner need time, its not exactly wallet friendly for most people either, and that in itself creates a barrier to entry. I mean, it's not like you need very deep pockets, its all relative for that matter, but the desire for such an affair with food all boils down to an individual's perception of value and your disposable income.

Not to mention the profound uncertainty brought about by COVID-19, and you wonder whether these so called "atas" restaurants would be able to rebrand themselves and adapt to the changing times like how Swiss luxury watch makers respond to the wave of highly precise quartz watches flooding the market.

Well, we at the hedgehogknows, have good news for those of you who love French gastronomy.



La Dame de Pic at Raffles Hotel


Recently, the hedgehog dined at the new kid on the block, La Dame de Pic, and we are more than happy to share with you our verdict on the food here.

The truth is, La Dame de Pic, isn't exactly new. They opened their doors in late 2019 and we are sure you know what happened towards the end of 2019. So you can consider the hedgehog a li'l late to the party.

But as cliche as it sounds, better late than never, so here's our narrative :)



First Impressions



As the hedgehog stepped into the restaurant, he was greeted by high ceilings and a classy chic interior that suggests minimalism juxtaposed with classy elegance and sophistication. Nothing too over the top and you are made to feel at home with those comfy leather seats. Starting to get good vibes about this.

Btw, did you know that La Dame de Pic is a play on Anne Sophie Pic, the chef-restauranteur’s family name which translates to "queen of spades"? No wonder we spotted a gold chandelier with spades taking centrestage in the restaurant.

This is markedly in contrast to the opulence and grandeur at Joel Robuchon restaurant and the likes of Restaurant Le Meurice in Paris, as we recall.



Hors d'oeuvres


The thing about the French is that they always like to surprise you with stuff that you didn't order.  Well, anything that's complimentary can't be a bad thing right?


We were first served with a beautiful, colourful platter of hors d'oeuvres which left a really good impression. And that opening act was complimentary from the chef.


The Sake Pu-er Yuzu Orange Blossom Bon Bons coated with cocoa butter shells. Think ang moh xiao long baos where the first bite sends you to heaven as you experience a burst of myriad flavours in your mouth ranging from sweet to sour. In essence, its a chocolate bon bon with yuzu lah, if you minus the fancy names.


We were also served Scallop Tartare on Matcha Tart. Again, we loved the diverse flavours, with subtle hints of wasabi and matcha.


The other two dishes were interesting adaptations of our quintessential Singaporean dishes: Kueh Pie Tee with Cardamon, Cognac and Yoghurt, topped with Prawn and Honeycomb Crackers with Lemon and Nori Seaweed Gels. The variety of premium ingredients made this a very delicious, indulgent Asian inspired treat.


Amuse Bouche


For the amuse bouche, we had Madai Fish infused with Salted Cucumber and Lemon Balm.  Refreshing stuff and the flowery presentation was visually appealing too.



Bread


Next, we were finally served the bread:  Turmeric Black Sesame Brioche, Sourdough and Beer Baguette. While most diners may find the brioche rather interesting, considering the unique ingredients used and Chef Sophie's affinity for incorporating French gourmet food with Asian spices, the hedgehog's favourite was actually the classic French beer baguette.

Somehow it tasted better than the your typical traditional French baguette - crusty with a nice shade of brown on the outside, buttery soft and chewy on the inside. Not an expert on bread and maybe a baguette maestro could enlighten us, but we suspect it could be how the beer reacts with the dough during the fermentation process that gives it this complex flavour and great taste. The rose petals, madagascan peppercorn butter perhaps enhanced the taste of the baguette.



Appetisers


For the first course we had the Tuna from Nagasaki, paired with beetroot in different textures and tasmanian pepper ice cream. Loved the exotic flavours, especially the ice cream.


Baby Salsify from Touraine, cooked "a la plancha" with honey and juniper roselle and bourbon, point coffee sabayon. In case you are wondering, a salsify is actually a winter vegetable much like a parsnip.  If you are familiar with dandelions, then yes they belong to the dandelion family.

We thought this dish was rather underwhelming actually. It has a delicate, creamy, aromatic taste but we felt that the infusion of coffee felt a tad contrived, like some dissonant sound in a beautiful symphony.  But your mileage may vary.  As they say, different strokes for different folks.



Mains


For the mains, we had the Organic Welsh Lamb with Jerusalem Artichoke and Mezcal, infused with lamb jus. In our humble opinion, this was our favourite dish of the entire menu and it stole the show here. 

We were offered different cuts, such as the lamb rack and lamb saddle, but you heard from us, the lamb rack was simply divine. This was by far the best lamb rack we have tasted, even more sublime than some of the fine dining restaurants in New Zealand we went to. Juicy, tender, succulent and with intense flavours, the lamb rack was just gobsmackingly delicious and melt-in-your-mouth. What an indulgent, guilty pleasure.


The other main course was the Matcha Gnocchi (or berlingots from what we hear) served with barbecued lobster claw, herb coulis, lobster bisque infused with yuzu. This was alright, but we've certainly had better lobster bisque elsewhere. Fleur de sel and Gordon Grill immediately come to mind. 

In any case, the addition of matcha is a nice touch though, but nothing mind blowing or out of this world. In fact, we thought the matcha seemed to obfuscate the taste of the lobster and it did not synergise well overall with the rest of the dish. Perhaps the hedgehog is used to French classic cooking that focuses more on subtle and refined tastes, so that in-your-face matcha felt rather out of place in this dish. We heard this was a signature dish but somehow it did not hit all the high notes for us.



Pre-Dessert


For the pre-dessert, we were seduced with a Cheesecake with Rice Cracker and some some yuzu. Very light and refreshing after all those main courses. This wasn't in the menu either and it was complimentary from the chef.



Dessert


For dessert, we relished the Illanka Chocolate consisting of Sobacha chocolate mousse, with chocolate and dill ice cream; and Chestnut and Calamansi made of Kaffir lime cremeux, sudachi calamansi confit and chestnut ice cream.



Both desserts were tantalizingly enthralling with lots of subtle notes that harmonize well with each other, and the best part was that it doesn't feel too decadent or extravagant on the palette.  Presentation wise, its like an elegant, immaculate work of art that you would expect no less from a fine dining restaurant of this calibre. 

The hedgehog was offered a complimentary cake with petit fours and mignardises too. 

















Overall


Overall, we genuinely enjoyed our time here at La Dame de Pic. Special mention goes to the bespoke service staff who were patient in allowing us to do our Instagram shots.

It's certainly worth a recommendation, especially if you are a Francophile foodie.


La Dame de Pic, Raffles Singapore
1 Beach Road, Singapore 189673

Website: https://www.rafflessingapore.com/restaurant/la-dame-de-pic/

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