Our team goes undercover to suss out the latest and most talked about restaurants in town
Following Christophe Lerouy’s departure from Alma by Juan Amador, where he was chef de cuisine and helped the restaurant earn one Michelin star, he has teamed up with DSTLLRY’s Andrew Lum and taken over his Mediapolis outlet to present ‘mod French-Asian carte blanche’, dinner-only prix fixe menus. By all means, it’s an unusual move for an award-winning chef.
Tucked deep within the one-north business park, DSTLLRY is a starkly designed space reminiscent of an underground den with its jet black walls and moody lighting. Diners sit on high stools around the counter, which surrounds the open kitchen. I wasn’t sure if the interiors and location would work in Lerouy’s favour, especially for a fine dining establishment, but my uncertainty was unfounded when I arrived to a packed restaurant on a Monday evening.
The drinks list is heavy on whiskies, ranging from Caperdonich 1992 Old Malt Cask ($57/serving) from Speyside to Nikka Coffey Grain and Malt ($20/serving) from Japan, and offers a diverse wine selection that’s mostly sold by the bottle. Castellblanc Cava ($12/glass) doubles as a subtly sweet and herbaceous cocktail ($15/glass) when mixed with Giffard Cassis Noir De Bourgogne liqueur.
Choose from the Petit (six courses, $95) or Grand menus (eight courses, $120), which change every two months. Amuse-bouche such as amaebi tartare on a prawn cracker as well as crispy potato skin with smoked eel and crème fraîche are in line with the French chef’s Asian leanings. We particularly enjoyed the lobster cappuccino, a frothy concoction that teases the palate for more.
Intriguing accompaniments of ikura, béarnaise ice cream, black sesame powder, and ginger purée – to list a few – each interact differently with the beef tartare appetiser, but there was too much going on to fully appreciate the dish as a sum of its parts. I preferred the second starter – a plump oyster immersed in Ibérico ham stock and topped with a sliver of lardo and knob of foie gras. The umami components worked well with each other, contrasted by the soft salinity of the mollusc.
The warm uni capellini – each strand swathed in just enough cream and chive oil – would have been an enjoyable prelude to our mains if it wasn’t for the sea urchin, which had a barely detectable sweetness and faint metallic tang, a sign of diminished freshness. The capellini was also overcooked and gummy on our second visit.
Lerouy likes his sauces intensely savoury, and sometimes too much so – though my companion doesn’t feel as strongly about it as I do. Roasted monkfish with beef tongue salad could have shone with a lighter churon sauce, while a rich shiso sauce masked the delicate sweetness of seared scallop. Similarly, black garlic and pimento-spiked veal jus was a tad too heavy for lamb shoulder, though I loved the torched honey sobrasada smeared on top.
The deconstructed torche aux marrons was well executed. Lightly flavoured chestnut cream, meringue and crushed Sablé biscuits lent a slight grittiness to white wine-poached pear and yuzu sorbet – a safe yet satisfying dessert as a whole. Skip the sesame macaron, which was overly chewy and sticky; the house-made pistachio nougat was a more enjoyable petit four. Although our meals didn’t consistently hit the high notes, Lerouy made a lasting positive impression by showing each guest out the door and wishing them goodnight. Sometimes it’s the little touches like these that keep diners going back to a restaurant. #01-01 Infinite Studios, 21 Media Circle. Tel: 6334 4816.
Average dinner bill for two, with Petit menus: $250
Must-tries: Lobster Cappuccino, Oyster in Ibérico Ham Stock, and deconstructed torche aux marrons