Tanjong Pagar

Tanjong Pagar was a historic centre for Singapore's Chinese community. It is now a cosmopolitan area within walking distance of the CDB with a wide range of old and new shops. It is a good place for a lunch time meal with office workers, a post work hangout area for pubs and fine dining and a pleasant place to explore cafes and eclectic shops on a lazy weekend afternoon.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Nicolas Le Restaurant (Moved)

Nicolas Le Restaurant is situated at Keong Saik Road a few doors down from Pasta Inc. and Taratata Bistrot
My husband and I went down there for a set meal lunch. The place accepts babies in prams, this was a relief.

The three course lunch plus some extras on the house is $42+. Some mains have an additional charge.

My husband ordered a glass of Shiraz. The Shiraz was quite ordinary. It tasted pleasant but did not have depth in complexity and length that a good wine has. At $19, I would consider it expensive and don't think I will be ordering wine here again.

However, the food at this place was very good. In fact, even though Nicholas can be considered fine dining, it has an unpretentious feel in the place and the food matches up to the prices (even for dinner). The dinner degustation without wine is $98+ and in Singapore for the standard, this is very reasonable.

Duck Rillettes on toast

This was a free starter. Rillettes is similar to pate. It is usually cooked in low heat and blended in fat to form a rustic paste. The rillettes were rich on the mouth and smooth. With the crusty toast, it created complementary textures.

Egg with truffle oil and smoked eel

The eggshell top was removed to create this beautiful presentation. My guess is that the egg was steamed to a stage where the whites and yolks are still semi runny. This was topped with truffle oil. Eggs and truffles are a classic combination that always go well together. The surprise of this dish was the addition of smoked eel. It added another dimension of flavor to the dish. The smoked eel was almost like a piece of meat in texture and taste. It's pretty hard to describe why this dish works as I would have never thought that it could. It's a bit different from any combination I have eaten and a real surprise.

Ravioli with garlic cream & marjoram , morel mushroom emulsion and tomato confit

This was extremely good. The pillows of ravioli were soft but packed with garlic cream. This is what a true ravioli should be like. The tomato confit provided acidity and sweetness to the slightly earthy morel emulsion. 

Hokkaido Scallop, caponata, chorizo, clams infused with saffron emulsion and scallop chips

The hokkaido scallop was partly cooked so it was really sweet. Chorizo, saffron, clams, scallops are always a fantastic combination. I don't think one can really go wrong with this. The only thing I'm not sure was necessary was the caponata. I'm not sure if it added much value to the dish. Perhaps just using red peppers to sweeten the dish will be enough. The scallop chips were excellent. I would love to find out how it is done. 

Slow cooked pigeon and leg confit

Pigeon isn't commonly seen in many restaurant menus in Singapore. But it's coming close to Christmas and some places do serve it during this season. I liked the pigeon leg confit as it was browned and quite crispy on the outside. The slow cooked pigeon was very well done but not mind blowing. I felt like the sauce could be richer because pigeon tends to have quite a strong gamey flavour and needs a strong sauce to pair it with.

Tasmania lamb

My husband's lamb dish was really good. If you can see from the pictures, the lamb is cooked to pink perfection. It was browned outside and tender inside. The Jus that went with it was more flavourful. You can see this just from the darker colour of the sauce in the photos.

Trio of desserts- chocolate fondant, creme caramel, yogurt ice cream

This was a bit of a let down after all the great courses. The fondant was like a mousse with just a cake like topping. The creme caramel was a bit weak. The best of the three was the yogurt ice cream which was smooth and creamy. 

Chef Nicolas seems to succeed where a lot of fine dining chefs fail in that he is able to achieve the complexity of layering flavors and seasoning each dish well. I'm surprised that I haven't heard more about this talented chef. The only downside to his food is the dessert. Most fine dining establishments hire a dessert chef as it is very hard to be excellent in both savoury and sweet. Both require quite different techniques. I'm not sure if Nicolas has a dessert chef.

The service had some drawbacks like taking a long time to serve water. However, the wait staff were knowledgeable enough about the food. This is better than most fine dining restaurants where the wait staff often have no idea on where the food or wine come from.

I'm definitely going back.

Website: http://www.restaurantnicolas.com/therestaurant.html
Location: 31 Keong Saik Road
Opening Hours: Tues- Fri 12pm- 2pm; Tues- Sat 6:30pm- 10pm; Closed on Mon & Sun
Contact Number: 62242404
Prices: About $50- $60 for lunch for the basic set

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