One from the memory vaults, this review is largely historical, and concerns the 2011 menu of Restaurant André. (For a more updated review, check out my Aug ’13 double-header review.) The restaurant is one of the first serious French restaurants that I remember going to, my previous fine-dining experience having been focused on the Chinese restaurants in Singapore. So this visit marks one of my first forays into Western fine-dining. This was a highly ambitious meal, and the review is reconstructed from the tasting notes I took on my iPhone on that night.
Onion Chips (sweet)
Chicken Marsala Skin (wafer thin)
FIsh and Chips in Chocolate Garlic Soil
This was the best version of the chocolate garlic soil I have had in my 3 visits (first time’s the charm). The fish and surrounding potato chips were perfectly salted, and ingeniously constructed, and contrasted well with the chocolate and garlic flavours. There’s a video on Youtube demonstrating the preparation technique for these amuses.
“Pure” – 8 Tomatoes, Tomato Puree, Tomato Pineapple, Tomato Licorice (4.75/5)
A very pretty dish, the “licorice tomato” (which I can’t find any Google hits for) had a complex flavour. I believe that this had perhaps the most interesting-tasting tomatoes I had yet encountered.
“Salt” – Oyster Seaweed and Sea Grapes + Granny Smith Foam (5/5)
The sea grapes (a form of seaweed) had an interesting, caviar-like texture, which was draped on top of a succulent oyster.
Artisan: Aubergine terrine with caviar sandwiching finely chopped cockscomb. Fried slivers of burdock root. (4.75/5)
Very similar to the Artisan dish on my 3rd visit (the caviar was replaced by excellent fried ducks’ tongues).
“South” (left) Flounder over Tomato, Cucumber Basil Sorbet, White Peach Slices (3.75/5)
“South” (right) Risotto base, Mackerel, Clams, Pamplona Prawn, Blue Crab Foam (4.75/5)
I found the risotto very good and with exceedingly good seafood, but the coral plate (left plate) left me cold. This trend of liking the pasta (risotto or capellini) plate much better than the coral plate carried through my 2nd and 3rd visits).
“Texture” – Squid and Rice (5/5)
This is an extremely cunning dish. While one might expect that squid would be the one coloured black from its ink, and the bits of white lower on the plate the rice – the opposite is true. The white bits lower on the plate, are actually finely diced squid cunningly disguised as risotto, and the black bit is a rice cracker, with no colouring and taking its colour completely from careful charring. Peas were under the rice. Full marks for toying with my expectations.
“Unique” – Artichoke, white wine butter foam, baby barracuda, with Beurre Blanc. (4.25/5)
This was quite similar to the barigoule I had on my second visit to Andre 2 years later. The combination worked decently well, but was not mind-blowing taste wise.
“Memory” – Warm Foie Gras Cream with Black Truffle Jelly (5/5)
“Terroir” – Braised French Pigeon with Garlic Soil, Braised Mustard seeds. Potato, pea, mind, tarragon, dehydrated olives (4.5/5)
An excellently cooked pigeon.
Bernard Antony’s Cheese plate
Wild strawberries + marshmallows with ice (4/5)
Dessert: Burnt Butter Ice cream, Chocolate Sphere, Chocolate Sponge, Chocolate Chip
I’m sure this tasted good, but this diner unfortunately suffers from the embarrassing malaise that I’ve had chocolate dessert in almost every way you can make chocolate. Pudding, mousse, lava cake, torte, tart, sponge, soil… I’ve had them all and my palate is 90% jaded when it comes to chocolate. So I confess, I don’t really remember the tastes of 99% of chocolate desserts, other than the meta-data that they were probably very good. Doesn’t help that I’m blogging about this meal 2 years after. Sorry!
White Chocolate Popcorn with Surprise (Pop Rocks)
Fig with citrus skin
One of the advantage of these memory lane trips is that you really know what you remember 2 years out. So here’s what I remember:
Memory: Fish-and-chips in Chocolate Garlic Soil (amuse), Oyster with Sea Grapes (Salt), Squid and Rice (Texture), Popcorn with Pop rocks (Mignardises), 8 Tomatoes (Pure)
It’s quite impressive that at this time, Andre was only about a year old, but many of the signature dishes had already taken form, and many of the dishes we had in 2013 had clear genealogy from their 2011 incarnations. Where Andre has improved significantly is in its desserts. Whereas in 2011 we were served a good but unmemorable chocolate dessert, in 2013 we were served such flights of fancy as the Crystal Snickers, hugely memorable and tasty. This may be down to the influence of Makito Hiratsuka, the current chef patissier of Restaurant Andre.