The Place Mention fine-dining in Singapore and Les Amis is inevitably one of the first names to come to my mind. Located in the heart of the Orchard Road at Shaw Centre with the French translation of ‘The Friends’, I was surprised that Les Amis has been around since 1994, a rare sight for restaurants in Singapore. I made a reservation about a week in advance for weekend lunch, which is highly recommended for any fine-dining restaurants in Singapore. Les Amis is in the spotlight recently, as it was awarded 2 Michelin stars last month in the inaugural Singapore Michelin Guide 2016 (read more about the Michelin Singapore Guide 2016 here).
The restaurant is relatively big, spanning across two levels with four private rooms, including the Chef’s Table on the first level that offers up to six diners a view of the kitchen through a glass window. The interior is simple, classy contemporary look with minimalist beige leather seats, quite in line with the type of ambience I look for in a fine-dining restaurant as the more of the attention and focus should rightfully be on the food.
The Food There are two main menus to choose from for weekend lunch, the Le menu tasting (S$155) or the Le menu formule (S$90). We went for the latter which gives us three courses and a choice of dessert. As with most fine-dining establishments, the menu changes every season here, with ingredients mainly imported from France. There are also some premium dishes within the menu where you will need to top up a supplementary amount for the Le menu formule.
We started off with some sun-dried tomato bread paired with unsalted butter from Normandy, a series of appetisers and amuse bouche while we pondered over what to have. I am not exaggerating when I say that I was 20% filled even before my meal formally started.
One way for us to assess the service is to ask for recommendations from the staff. One of the managers served us, and offered some useful recommendations of what to have instead of merely reading out what’s on the menu for us. We also appreciated that no one disrupted us by asking if we were ready to order while we took our time to decide what to have, something I really appreciate in good service.
For cold appetisers, we had the Duck Foie Gras Terrine from Vendee, dry aged for 10 days and accompanied with Alfonso mango. I love foie gras, and who can resist that simple yet pretty presentation?
The other recommended cold appetiser is the Crab“Frivolite”, prepared “au court bouillon” and served in a roll of “feuille de brick” with caviar. This dish surprised us in its exquisite presentation. The flavours are amazing.
For our hot appetisers, the “Jardin De Rabelais” Tomatoes was a refreshing twist after having the cold appetisers. The fresh tomatoes were presented on a tart, complimented by a young onion confit which further elevated the flavour of this dish.
It may seem boring to go for foie gras again, but I did anyway. The Foie Gras & Cherry Combination of pan seared foie gras and Bigarreau Cherry was more predictable in taste as compared to the tomatoes above. What I really enjoyed in this dish is the young fresh almond coated on the foie gras, which gave it another nice layer of flavour. Nevertheless, you won’t complain if you love your foie gras like myself.
On to the main courses, we were torn on having the Dover Sole fish or the Pork Loin. We went for the former despite the pork being the signature item, partly curious how it will turn out. The Dover Sole was served in a trolley first, where we watched the staff sliced it deftly in front of us.
We love this dish. The Dover sole was cooked in “Meunière” style, served with Girolles mushrooms and you get to pour as much or as little cider sauce over it for that tinge of acidity in flavour.
The other mains we tried was the Dry Aged Irish Beef (Supplement S$20), a ribeye cut with a minimum of 35 days of traditional maturation. The steak was decent, not particularly outstanding for me. I will go for the Pork Loin if I were to return again.
Desserts are a league of its own at Les Amis, helmed by pastry chef Cheryl Koh, who also runs the brand’s pastry shop just a few doors down from Les Amis (Tarte by Cheryl Koh). One of the signatures we had, the Sweet Corn Soufflé, is easily one of the best desserts I had this year. It first aroused the sense of smell when served, followed by the visual treat of the delicate presentation with pieces of popcorn resting on the soufflé. The fluffy texture soufflé was as dreamy as this dessert could get, perfectly complimented by the accompanying sea salt caramel ice cream.
For something less fanciful, the Burlat Cherries will be a good refreshing touch to conclude the meal, served with fresh almonds on a blanc manger.
Rants The only rant I can think of at Les Amis will definitely be the walk to the restaurant. Despite the renovation completed at Shaw Centre, the busy road along Claymore Hill and the almost constant horde of cars just outside the restaurant, make it a less than pleasant journey to the otherwise perfect dining experience.
Will I Return Again? It will not be my everyday meal, and that’s definitely due to the pricing. Though, for that rare occasion of indulgence, Les Amis is strongly recommended. With seasonal menus, and the constant search for perfection here, we will be back again to be appeased.
Make your reservation instantly at Les Amis here.
Taste bud: 4.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4.5/5
Overall Experience: 4.5/5
Monday to Sunday
Lunch 12pm (Last seating at 2pm)
Monday to Thursday
Dinner 7pm (Last seating at 9.30pm)
Friday to Sunday
Dinner 6.30pm (Last seating at 9.30pm)
Ranted by The Ranter