British chef Paul Longworth and French maitre’d Jerome Desfonds have moved on from Au Petit Salut to break out on their own with fine dining shop, Rhubarb Le Restaurant. And despite ditching their jobs to set up this indie venture, they have earned the blessings and investment from their former boss, Alice Low-Ang, which perhaps doubles as a testimonial and belief in the pair’s talents.
It makes for an astute bet. The local service team headed by Desfonds – transplants from Au Petit Salut and his first local stint at Nicolas Le Restaurant – sing knowledgeably about the beautifully composed modern European plates turned out by Longworth and his lean team behind the semi-open kitchen. À la carte options like the pigeon with rhubarb and rose purée ($64) may seem like enticing prospects for the homesick European or adventurous eater, but you’ll do no wrong ordering from the set menu. Priced at $138 for dinner, it ranks as one of the better prix fixe menus in town for your buck, with three good-sized appetisers, one main, dessert and coffee or tea included in the deal.
Seating 12 in a private dining room on level two, and 30 in an oddly matchy-matchy main dining room of chairs, cloth-draped tables and napkins in the same shade of grey, the amuse bouche of milk-poached smoked haddock and hibiscus, ensconced in a charcoal-hued mini-cone, while tasty, doesn’t do much to charge the palate for the plates ahead.
The trio of starters, however, do much better to make the meal. The airy espuma of smoked chestnut and mushroom lightly perfumed with black truffle ($26) warms the tummy with a light footprint, ahead of the foie gras cooked to an almost wobbly consistency, plated alongside a streak of balsamic, green apple and wild strawberry compote ($32).
Entrées continue the goodness. The red meat option of Australian full-blooded wagyu ($54), which the chef describes as ‘a Japanese cow with an Aussie passport’, is sublime, though Longworth was slightly miffed when we return feedback that his expensive, made-in-England walnut pickles assaults the tastebuds like a sour lambic, not leaving much space for the exquisitely juicy beef to shine.Dessert adds almost an umami edge to the wedge of chocolate and peanut butter torte with a side of smoked hay ice cream ($18).
The three-course set lunch ($42) is a leaner spread with dishes like an upsized version of dinner’s smoked haddock amuse bouche, braised beef with little gem lettuce, pork tenderloin with caramelised apples and leeks, and red snapper fillet with pickled tomatoes, cucumber and dill, on offer. Overall, it’s very hard to find fault with a restaurant like Rhubarb, so earnest about the fine cuisine and not greedy about its prices. Save the telephone number for a reservation, and splash out when the budget allows – we expect to hear more great things about this one.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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