Au Petit Salut – 40C Harding Road, Tanglin Village (Dempsey)
There's something to be said about good food in a gorgeous setting. The same cuisine is somehow transported to a whole new level when savoured within a tranquil sanctuary or before a breathtaking vista.
Au Petit Salut is one place that takes full advantage of its beautiful Dempsey Road location. Just reserve an al fresco table, fork out $48++ for an executive set lunch and prepare yourself for one of life's most exquisite pleasures.
The amuse bouche Bread Basket was as good as bread baskets get. The warm rolls were fluffy and soft beneath a crunchy crust while the lovely chewy ciabatta was gorgeous with an indulgent smear of sweet butter.
Thick, rich and creamy, the Lobster Bisque with Tarragon and Lobster Ravioli was a concentrated reduction of crustacean flavour that's so intense it clouded all the other senses momentarily.
With a supplement of $5, I indulged on Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras with Baby Spinach and Onions in Xeres Sauce as my starter. Done daringly rare, the exterior was delicately crisp, breaking apart to yield a truly semi-solid and luxuriously creamy interior. The Xeres sauce was a tad salty though.
The third member of my lunch trio went for the Set Lunch ($30) and started off with Sliced Vine Ripened Roma Tomatoes with Mozzarella Cheese and Balsamic Vinegar. It was a well-executed if typical Caprese Salad with remarkably sweet tomatoes.
The focus of Crispy French Duck Confit with Sauteed Potatoes, Bacon and Mixed Greens with Walnut Dressing was strangely not the duck. The flavour-packed walnut oil was an attention-grabbing change from overused extra virgin olive oil, possessing oodles more character besides. Mealy potatoes were excellent with sinful cubes of pork crackling nestled amongst them if the crisp duck skin was not decadent enough. Ladies and Gents, leave that calorie counter at home.
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin with Shallot Confit and Mashed Potatoes in Red Wine Sauce was perhaps the show-stealer at a supplement of $5. A tender medium left the magnificent cut of meat with good bite while the buttery mash cradled the sweet caramelised onions like a lover in its silky smooth arms.
The set meal came with a less flamboyant but no less gratifying Shredded Confit of Lamb with Shallots, Carrots, Celery and Mashed Potato. An excellent Shepherd's Pie, the sweet and creamy mash was delightfully crisped at the top. Its filling was a peerless lamb stew, herby and brimming with ovine flavour; the concentrated nectar of a stock definitely deserves credit. All that soaked into the lower layers of mash which sealed the casserole, turning it into a luxuriously buttery, rosemary-accented and lamb-infused gloop.
Desserts were much anticipated and proved every bit as divine as the past courses. Light and generously citrussy, the Orange and Grand Marnier Soufflé was eggy and custardy if not exactly smooth in consistency. Wonderfully puffed up and golden brown, it was really quite breathtaking.
An even greater guilty pleasure was the Warm Melted 70% Chocolate Cake with 64% Chocolate Sorbet, Red Currant Jam & Pistachio Nuts. The cake was excellent even with jaded lava cakes now increasingly ubiquitous. Moist and rich, the spongy outer layer yielded to reveal a particularly thick and chocolatey ganache which was balanced by the vivid currant reduction. Next to that, the sorbet seemed a tad thin though.
The set lunch's Creme Brulee with Madagascar Vanilla Bean was served cold but magnificent otherwise. A surprisingly liberal speckling of vanilla beans accorded a delightful depth of vanilla flavour to the thick custard. The crisp layer of burnt sugar was quite thick, lending a lovely caramel warmth and liberal sweetness to all that creaminess.