Singapore has its fair share of French restaurants.
From old guards like Saint Pierre to celebrity chef outposts like Joel Robuchon’s twin eateries (L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon and Joel Robuchon Restaurant) at Resorts World Sentosa, choices are abundant and limited only by the size of your wallet.
In recent years, boutique eateries like Restaurant Andre and Jaan have emerged as firm favourites among Francophile foodies, thanks in no small part to the media spotlight cast by their listing The World's 50 Best Restaurants and, most recently, Asia's 50 Best Restaurants.
If you're looking for French dining establishments in the lion city, here's our selection of the finest.
From as little as S$148++, you may feast like a king on Saint Pierre’s (31 Ocean Way, #01-15 Quayside Isle | Tel: 65-6438 0887 | www.saintpierre.com.sg) 10-course omakase menu that features Emmanuel Stroobant’s Japanese-inflected modern French cuisine – think petite portion of lobster bisque or the dish of yuzu-scented prawn tartare crowned with a tongue of uni. Another bonus of dining here is the priceless view of luxury yacht docked at the nearby quay.
Equally affordable is OCF (1 Old Parliament Lane #02-02 | 65-6333 9312 | www.ocf-singapore.com). Perched on the northern banks of the Singapore River, the main dining room offers limited views of the said river through beautifully white washed French windows, but the light and wholesome modern French fare by Jonathan Koh more than makes up for it. Pick the terroir inspired tasting menu (7 courses, S$148++) highlighted by dishes like Cevennes onion tart with poached egg and potato capellini topped with Oscietra caviar. But if you can’t get through dinner without meats, menu Stamford (7 courses, S$148++) beckons with generous portions of meats and seafood.
Gunther’s (36 Purvis Street | 65-6338 8955 | www.gunthers.com.sg) by Gunther Hubrechsen, a Les Amis alum who trained with Alain Passard, also offers a bespoke tasting menu from S$150++ for 5 courses within the hushed and hallowed charcoal grey confines of his Purvis Street digs. While the menu is determined entirely by Hubrechsen (and your budget), must-haves include the intensely savoury chives-flecked chilled angel hair pasta in truffle jus crowned with Oscietra caviar and the legendary apple tart.
Alternatively, stretch your dollar at Keystone (11 Stanley Street | 65-6221 0046 | www.keystonerestaurant.com.sg). Merely 2 years old, this modern French eatery at Stanley Street has risen resolutely as a haute cuisine contender with the instalment of Immanuel Tee early this year. For S$155++, the table d'hôte menu arrests your senses with alluring plates like Tasmanian abalone in a savoury pool of Iberico consommé with sautéed silken toufu alongside crunchy mustard seeds. What’s not to like about Keystone?
For French dining with all the pomp and glam, there’s L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon (8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa | 65-6577 8888) at Resorts World Sentosa by the world’s most decorated Michelin starred chef, Joel Robuchon. Reserve a seat at the salon’s black-and-red swathed 28-seat counter that looks into a stainless steel-clad open-concept kitchen and ask for the Discovery Menu (S$240++, 8 courses). The ensemble of artfully plated creations – think bone marrow spiked with mustard served on a wafer of toast or the lone ranger of crisp langoustine tempura with basil pistou – is sure to please. Robuchon has carbon copies of the same concept in cities ranging from Paris to Hong Kong to Tokyo – isn’t this proof enough?
When perusing French eateries, don’t overlook Singapore fine dining stalwart, Les Amis (1 Scotts Road, Shaw Centre | 65-6733 2225 | www.lesamis.com.sg), in the heart of Orchard Road. Yes, imported chefs – like Gunther Hubrechsen and Armin Leitgeb– have come and gone but life goes on with Galvin Lim, a long-time employee and current executive chef of Les Amis, who still dazzles with his 7-course tasting menu (S$288++). In 2013, Lim helped Les Amis clinch the 14th spot on San Pellegrino Asia’s 50 Best list.
Equally if not more notable is Restaurant Andre (41 Bukit Pason Road | Tel: 65-6534 8880 | www.restaurantandre.com) by Singapore’s most feted chef, Andre Chiang. Restaurant Andre landed the fifth spot on San Pellegrino Asia 50 Best list in 2013 and was listed by New York Times as one of ten restaurants in the world that are worth a plane ride in 2011. Chiang’s 8-course Mediterranean-inspired French menu (S$298++), termed Octaphilosophy, is an expressions of his culinary inspirations interpreted as “pure”, “salt”, “artisan”, “South”, “texture”, “unique”, “memory” and “terroir” on the menu. While the dishes change seasonally, you can almost always expect to see the memory dish of foie gras jelly with black truffle coulis. Gear yourselves up for an epic meal: other than 8 mains, Chiang also serves up a parade of amuse bouche and numerous courses of sweets including an updated rendition of his now-famous Snicker bar dessert conceived during his 2-year stint with Jaan.
Jaan (read review here)
When Chiang leftJaan (Level 70 Equinox Complex, Swissotel The Stamford| Tel: 65-6837 3322 | www.swissotel.com) in 2010, some said his shoes were too big to be filled. French native, Julien Royer, proved detractors wrong. Not only did he build up a fan base with his heartfelt, artisan-inspired contemporary French cuisine, Royer swiftly won his way to the hearts of the Diners’ Club academy, clinching the coveted “One to Watch” award at the inaugural San Pellgrino Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list in 2013. To savour the best of Royer, ask for the 10-course Inspiration menu (S$298++) and you’ll be rewarded with dishes like 55-degree rosemary smoked egg with chorizo iberico or the avocado cannelloni stuffed with chorizo-flecked Osiblu prawn tartare. Royer also serves an exquisite confit of Arctic char fish topped with grated burnt bread – it is, quite simply, the best fish dish in the world.
Perched right atop the price scale, Joel Robuchon reappears on the radar with his high-end Joel Robuchon Restaurant (8 Sentosa Gateway, Resorts World Sentosa | 65-6577 8888) sited next door to L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. In the Pierre-Yves Ronchon-designed dining room decorated with Lalique vases and crystal chandeliers, feast on Le Printemps (14 courses, S$488++), one of Singapore’s most expensive – and extensive – tasting menus. Befitting the price and the setting, expect top-notch produce like Maine lobster with tomato jelly and spring vegetables or the crusty eel mille-feuille layered with smoked foie gras. And be bedazzled by the tastiest 4-wheeled vehicles in town, not least the bread trolley, the cheese trolley, the tea trolley and, best of all, the trolley of mignardises. Be prepared to spend up to 5 hours here.
© Evelyn Chen 2013
Evelyn Chen traded her frequent flyer miles from her jet-setting corporate days for a critic's pen, and has been eating and drinking on the job ever since. She is a former Time Out food critic and current editor of Zagat Guide (Singapore); her food and travel features have published in CNN Travel, New York Times, Telegraph and Destin Asian, amongst others. Follow her on www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand or www.twitter.com/bibikgourmand for updates on where she's eating right now.