It's perhaps a tribute to Singapore's growing status as a global dining destination that celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck has opened a second restaurant on our shores, after his CUT steakhouse at Marina Bay Sands.
Spago started in 1982 as Puck's first foray into the restaurant game, and has grown to four locations in the US. Singapore is the first international outpost for the brand, and to drive the modern Cali-fusion point of view of the brand at its new Sands SkyPark location, Puck and Co are not holding back.
For one, they've transplanted a breezy Cali-cool aesthetic up onto the Sands' surfboard, outfitting the long, many-roomed space to look like a bungalow. Inside, the carpets, dimmed lighting, palettes of woody browns and tablecloth-draped dining tables almost conjure the glamour of old-school fine dining, if not for the soundtrack of pop-rock tunes. Flanking the two walls of floor-to-ceiling windows are views of the half-dressed infinity pool-going flock and our ship-studded southern shores.
With that in mind, Spago is still very much the rare treat you only consider for special nights out. Thankfully, you get what you pay for: reliably good, well-executed and sizable dishes enhanced by top-notch service.
Ingredients like the sturdy leaves of red furl mustard, and baby golden and red beets used in Puck’s signature beet salad ($26) are said to be picked out at farmers' markets by Spago Beverly Hills' purchasing chefs, before being flown direct to this island. The profoundly sweet beets, a light goat’s cheese, crumbs of toasted hazelnut, and balsamic play up the textural and flavour excitement on the plate. Veal chops presented with streaks of deep-black garlic and bittersweet kohlrabi-orange purées ($72) are the gamey, chewy free-range veal from Peter’s Farm in the Netherlands.
With the Beverly Hills flagship curating the produce used at this outpost, the menu is naturally aligned with the turn of California’s seasons. Still, there's room for local flavour in the dishes. The foie gras appetiser ($33) takes its cues from a kaya toast breakfast, though the housemade kaya and lines of thick egg yolk lose their prominence against fatty, pungent slices of seared liver and a coffee-fortified foie gras mousse. The laksa ($42), built on a fragrant rempah designed in-house, is a revelation. A thick, perfectly done fillet of Alaskan halibut, thick bee hoon and baby squid dominate the plate, but the marvel is in that coconut-y broth perfumed with whispers of Thai basil, torch ginger and lemongrass, and a rich clam liquor that had us supping every drop.
Ordering a standard appetiser and main course should do well to fill your tummy, but mobilise extra space for dessert. Our magnificently crowned soufflé of salted caramel ($24) with lemon sorbet struck that prime balance of crisp and fluffy.
The wine list is a formidable collection of Old and New World bottlings (from $80), with rare Lafites for the casino crowd. Ask instead for the cocktail list (from $26) served at Spago's casual lounge nearby. Dining at Spago is an all-rounded experience.
The very personable service is witty enough to carry on the banter, then turn on the charm and knowledge to do justice to the work of long-time Puck protegé and executive chef Joshua Brown. For all the upstarts and starry eyed restaurateur-wannabes with dreams of setting up cafés and dinner shop, pay your homage. The Puck shows just how it’s done.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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