December 19, 2013

Makan 2013 Day 4: flying pigeon

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I'd heard about Gunther's for a long time, as Chef Gunther Hubrechsen had done a stint at Les Amis a number of years ago.  People in foodie circles have been talking about this place for a long time, but once again, I haven't had a chance to visit due to my absence from Singapore.  That would change tonight.

I did zero research before stepping foot in the restaurant tonight, so I was surprised to find out that the menu was all à la carte.  Our server wanted to introduce us to the specials of the day, so he brought over a huge tray bearing the fresh ingredients available - which kinda reminds me of steakhouses like Morton's...

Two of us wanted pigeon for our main course, but our server informed us that there was only one pigeon left - as the rest had "flown away" - so only one of us got what she wanted.  The rest of us settled for sharing a chicken between us.

Our amuse bouche was prawn tempura.  Ho-hum... and it was lukewarm.

Cold angel hair pasta, Oscietra caviar - this, apparently, is THE signature dish... and I was told not to miss it.  Well, it was delicious alright.  What's not to like when you mix chopped chives and plenty of truffle oil?  Chill the pasta for a refreshing taste.  To be honest, I'm not sure how much the Oscietra added to the dish... other than to the cost.  The pasta would have been just as tasty with only the truffle oil and the chives...  Pretty happy to have done this.

Deep-fried egg and white truffle - it's white truffle season, and I figured I'd get an egg with some shaved truffle on top.  I didn't expect the egg to be deep-fried, although there was nothing wrong with it other than not being a classic preparation.  The problem I had was with the service.  I'm used to having my truffle shaved table-side, and for some reason Singapore just doesn't get it.  This is the second consecutive evening where white truffle came on a dish pre-shaven.  It may seem like a small matter, but it's simply not something that a top restaurant would do - in my not-so-humble opinion.

Cocotte of French chicken in hay - this was meant to be shared by two, but I think there was enough chicken to feed at least three.  Naturally the hay imparted a nice fragrance to the bird.

I got one of the drumsticks to start, served with a little bit of hibiscus sauce, truffle jus, mash and buttered leeks.  The chicken was very tender and moist.  Very yum.

Roasted pigeon with crushed candied elements and hibiscus sauce - I got a little piece to taste.  Pretty nicely done, too.

But we have a problem with this... One of us didn't get do have pigeon because we were told that only one portion was available.  We later saw a whole different pigeon appearing on the platter that was presented to a table next to us.  And the pigeon made another appearance at a third table later.  So our server lied to us.  Again, not something I would expect from a so-called top restaurant.

I had one more serving of the chicken, which was prepared as roast chicken with parsley oil.  This came with some spices such as Sichuan peppercorns smeared on the skin, which made it a little spicy.  There was also a little bit of pear purée beneath the chicken.  Pretty delish, too.

I was pretty full from all that food, so I passed on dessert while the Specialist got her crêpe suzette "flambée sous vos yeux".  I did want some coffee, though, so I ordered a French coffee, Grand Marnier, "flambée sous vos yeux".  The Grand Marnier was first headed up with a cigar torch...

... then I was surprised to see the Grand Marnier - already flaming - poured into a wine glass and continued to burn as it was swirled around...

Finally the coffee was poured in and topped with cream.  Yum!

Petit fours came and I took the green macaron, which had matcha (抹茶) cookies but I couldn't place the ganache...

I was, of course, ecstatic to see canelés... and these were really good.

Crispy exterior with moist interior.

The flow of wine continues, and we brought another three bottles to the restaurant.  These were taken away from us at the door, and the reds were decanted at our request.  We were a little surprised, though, that the decanting didn't take place "sous vos yeux" as my coffee was, since any trained sommelier wouldn't think of doing anything different.  This really shouldn't happen at a "top restaurant", and the Specialist and I were both a little annoyed.

Jacques Selosse Exquise (dégorgée à 15 Juin 2009) - toasty, smoky, very much caramelized with the richness of cane sugar.  Sweet and rich on the palate, as it's a sec with higher dosage.

1998 La Mission Haut-Brion - smoky, earthy, minty, cedar, mineral, a little grassy.  Still pretty tannic.

2002 Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon Eisele Vineyard - a little coffee and chocolate at first.  Sweeter on the palate, full-bodied, good concentration.  Later on coconut butter came out.

I was typing in my tasting notes for Araujo, and was writing "somewhat perfumed" when I stopped myself.  No, it wasn't the wine that was perfumed.  It was the couple of old fogeys at the table next to me who were wearing cologne!  Aiyah!!!!  These guys were drinking wine, too, so why did they wear that annoying cologne?!

At the end of the evening, I have to say that the food here was pretty good.  Gunther serves up "simple, honest food" like he says he does, without being overly fancy and delicate.  If we had brought along more whites, I would have loved to try out some of his daily catch - including skate wing, homard bleu and giant carabineros.  Next time...

Feeling the need for more alcohol, we stopped by Lantern, the poolside bar on the rooftop of the Fullerton Bay Hotel.  We were there for one reason - to try out a new Champagne cuvée...

Moët and Chandon Ice Imperial - ripe on the palate, with marmalade.

I dunno who came up with the idea of making a Champagne that's meant to be drunk on ice.  Apparently this was made as a demi-sec, with a lot more dosage, and therefore needed to be watered down.  My only reaction was "WTF"...  Our waitress brought us plastic goblets (apparently since we were drinking poolside), a plastic bucket filled with ice that was meant to be put inside our goblets, and some mint leaves which we could add to our bubbly.  All this tells me is that this ain't a bottle of serious Champagne, and it's being sold for more than Moët's Brut Imperial.

Never again...

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