Three years ago, Saint Pierre took the pomp of its brand of fine dining down to maxi dress levels of chill by making the move to Quayside Isle. It seemed fitting at the time, when young upstarts were flourishing plates with foraged herbs in approachable dining rooms and egalitarian prices.
Fast-forward to the present, and Saint Pierre is in the news again for swimming against the tide and ditching the island life for a narrow room facing the glitter of the Marina Basin. The restaurant brands this as an 'evolution of a soul' – chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant's soul, to be exact. The man has returned to his haute cuisine grooming bred from his Belgian beginnings, Australian adventures and move to Malaysia, before sashaying to Singapore in 1999.
Fancy eating Saint Pierre-style is played out in a long room on the second floor of One Fullerton, where tables of twos and threes get shimmery vistas of the Bay. Bigger groups of six can book a private room, or settle into one of the nooks carved out at the back of the echoey space.
Meals are served in seasonal tasting menus: the six-course omnivorous Earth ($158) and vegetarian Nature ($148), and the ten-course Grand Earth ($188) and Grand Nature ($178). Lunch with the full works is priced between $85 (four courses) and $100 (four courses with cheese), and a tasting menu ($85/four courses) for kids – each dish highlights one of the four tastes – has also been carved out by Stroobant, a father of two.
Amuse bouche is a quartet of appetite-igniting snacks, put together tableside with tweezers and siphon emissions by the main man himself. It's great to get up-close with the chef, although that slows down the pace of your meal when Stroobant's serving another table or waylaid by a chat with a regular. This early on, the bites set the ground rules for the borderless cuisine ahead.
As-seen-at-the-wet-market vegetables are cleverly deployed in a bite-sized portion of kangkong flan, and we're fascinated by the grassy acidity of sweet potato juice and leaves in a textural bowl of perfectly seared scallops, potato foam and a light funk of preserved black truffles. And the micro basil grown on Singapore's most expensive plot – the window ledge of Saint Pierre's kitchen – garnishes a slightly-too-salty slab of cod wrapped in stripes of sweet carrot and crisp mangkwang (jicama).
For a chef who's unapologetically vegetarian – his wife, Edina, explains that it makes his palate more sensitive for when he bends the rules for menu testing – the Nature menu isn’t as substantial as the meat one. Plates of barbecued corn steaks – sheared off the cob in slabs – are genius when complemented with eggplant and dashi. And nothing else on the menu quite captures the jubilation of a European spring like the assembly of plump asparagus, green beans and green peas showered in lemon-zinged crème fraîche. But sitting through four dishes that are more fresh than savoury ’til you get to the 'main course' of morels and duxelle on housemade puff pastry can leave you wanting more.
The two highlights of a dinner here are on the Earth menu. We feel the glamour of grand dining in a super smooth curd of lobsters royale under leeks and more chunks of lobster, and the perfectly seared A5-grade wagyu sirloin, complemented with cuts of fresh water eel and the zest of ginger in veal jus.
You'll find yourself charmed at the number of ways Saint Pierre’ll roll aperitifs, cheese and petit fours your way here. The cheese selection is well worth the $28 supplement, if you fancy the pong of your soft and blues.
Spoilt for choice for dining in Singapore, it's ultimately the small gestures like the trolley show, fastidious and knowledgeable service, and friendly banter by the chef's wife that seal the deal for a return trip. But don't just take it from us. Take it from the diners who've helped the brand stay in business for over 16 years and counting.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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