Its austere, corporate décor and dreary location next to a funeral parlour along Lavender Street might not warrant a second look, but Petite Menu at the three-star Aqueen Hotel is the very definition of a hidden gem. Part of a push by the Crescendas Group (which owns the Aqueen chain) to upscale its hospitality arm, they’ve hired rising young chef Nixon Low, an alumnus of Saint Pierre and Restaurant André, to head the kitchen. Low’s beautifully decorated dishes and innovative take on French fine-dining belie the pocket-friendly prices at this 84-seater.
An appetiser of cauliflower soup ($7) is poured tableside for a rich, creamy concoction of cauliflower florets, brioche cubes and a hint of cocoa, while both the mains we tried – ribeye steak with mashed potatoes ($16) and chicken confit with braised purple cabbage and sweet potato purée ($13) – were competent and looked like works of art on a plate. Desserts continu with the string of pleasant surprises, as Low’s deconstructed take on a black forest cake ($7) featured yummy chocolate mousse, brandied cherries, hazelnut ‘soil’ and caramel ice cream – you’re even given a tiny spade to shovel it all up.
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1/L Aqueen Lavender Hotel
139 Lavender Street