Monday, December 14, 2015

Singapore's Best Restaurants (4th): Les Amis' Modern French/European cuisine!

A quarter of all restaurants fail and close shop within the first year of opening; a whopping 70% are out of business within ten (Muller & Woods, Cornell/Michigan State). By this statistic alone, the fact that Les Amis has remained relevant for twenty-one years is pretty impressive. It also happens to be the current fourth best Restaurant in Singapore, and thirteenth best in Asia, which is quite the achievement!

Don't expect too much nostalgia when you visit, though. The fine dining scene in Singapore is très competitive, and in efforts to remain relevant the restaurant completed a s$1.5 million renovation earlier this year. The resulting dining area is gorgeous, with chandeliers lighting up tables dressed with thick, luxurious tablecloths. The only minus point, perhaps, is the lack of a view.

Les Amis Singapore
Photo Courtesy of Les Amis Restaurant

As is quite common with fine dining restaurants, lunch service is significantly cheaper than dinner. An express three course menu for s$55++ is available for power lunches; we're slightly less time-constrained so we opt for the s$80++ prix fixe 4 course menu instead.

After orders are taken we start off with the bread basket, served with a gorgeous Bordier Butter. We particularly liked the mini baguette, which had a perfect crust - crispy, but not too tough. Amusingly enough there was also a bacon-stuffed version of the baguette. Bacon, mmmmmmmmmm. Everything is better with bacon.

Les Amis Singapore Bread Basket

The menu is split into four sections (one for each course): Cold appetizers, Hot appetizers, Main courses and Desserts. The restaurants is pretty flexible on the choice of appetizers, though, in that they'll let you choose two cold or two hot appetizers as you desire.

We start off with the Caviar on Mimosa (s$10 supplement): Caviar served on crunchy melba toast perched on top of a gorgeously dainty deconstructed silky egg mimosa. We liked this quite a bit - the salty umami from the caviar contrasting nicely with the crunch of the toast and the egg flavours. Though in hindsight, perhaps the deconstructed egg seemed to steal the show from the caviar somewhat.

Les Amis Singapore Caviar on Mimosa

Next up: Seared Scallop with organic seasonal vegetable pearls and salmon roe. Scallop perfectly seared with a rare center - sweet and delicious.

Les Amis Singapore Seared Scallop

Les Amis describes itself as French cuisine with Asian influences, and that sort of shows in the next appetizer of sweet Crispy Langoustine deep fried in crispy wonton-like wrapping, with a side of what can be best described as a caesar salad with dried seaweed strips in place of lettuce.

Les Amis Singapore Crispy Langoustine

Foie Gras is one dish that we almost always order if it's on the menu, so naturally for our fourth and final appetizer, we had the Foie Gras & Eel. We're not sure if it's obvious in the photo, but in all our meals we've never had a piece of foie this big. Perfectly seared fattiness which went remarkably well with the citrus compote.

Too bad, then, that the piece of French river eel was ... terrible: cold, mushy and thoroughly unappetizing.

Les Amis Singapore Foie Gras and Eel

Salmon Served Two Ways was the first of our main courses. We're thrilled that Les Amis serves Scottish wild salmon - none of that farmed crap - but less thrilled at the execution of the dish. We liked the textures and flavours of the tartare (and check out how gorgeous those little purple flowers are). We also quite liked the (presumably) sous vide'ed fillet.

What we didn't like was the very obvious "torch taste" left behind after the chefs blow torched the surface. If you've ever eaten aburi sushi at a cheap sushi joint you'll know what we're talking about - it's the taste of gas as a direct consequence of the chef not adjusting the blowtorch properly.

Les Amis Singapore Salmon Two Ways

Our charcoal-grilled carpathian mountains-sourced Pork Loin (served with mashed potatoes and carrots) was pretty nice. Although I would have preferred a little more fat on the loin for better flavour.

Les Amis Singapore Pork Loin

Moving on to desserts: We both agreed that the Chocolate Mille Feuille tasted way better than the (non-existent) presentation. In the background you can see some petit fours - served with your choice of coffee or various premium teas. Included in the price Complimentary, of course.

Les Amis Singapore Chocolate Mille Feuille

In contrast, our Ardèche Chestnuts was beautifully and immaculately presented. I mean, with how much work the chefs put in to plate this dessert, couldn't they have done something to the mille feuille?

Anyways, this dessert was pretty good too! The sphere in the middle is hand-blown caramel encasing chestnut ice cream; sitting atop roasted chestnuts in a few different flavours and textures. If you're a fan of chestnuts you'll adore this dessert. Actually even if you don't like chestnuts you'll probably still adore it.

Les Amis Singapore Ardèche Chestnuts

With a final after-taxes price of just under s$100, lunch here isn't too expensive. Although we really enjoyed ourselves and felt that the food rated strongly on the quality scale, quantity-wise it was perhaps a little weak, even for fine dining standards. Also, we thought that although the cuisine was solid, it lacked the flair and recognizable 'signature' from other top competitors.

Of course, these are total #firstworldproblems, but at this level of meal expenditure we would rate Les Amis as not quite as good as, for example, Jaan under chef Royer. Still a very good meal, though!

Les Amis is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week - email for reservations. Non-halal.

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