We’ve been to Brasserie Les Saveurs at the St Regis Singapore before, but it’s been many many years since our last visit. The first time was for their super atas Sunday champagne brunch during a hotel staycation, back in the day when the St Regis was still under Starwood management and quite generous with free-night vouchers for their program members.
The hotel was quite new then (yes, it was that long ago) and over-the-top décor and furniture was still in fashion. Lazing in our large hotel room and then strolling down for a long and lazy brunch with free-flow champagne and plenty of high-quality ingredients was a luxurious experience. It didn’t hurt that it didn’t cost any “real” money, as everything was paid for in points.
I remember the warm sunlight streaming in through the floor-to-ceiling windows, the formally-dressed servers and the fancy chandeliers, while we were slowly but surely raising our blood alcohol levels. Both the food and the champagne (Perrier-Jouët Belle Epoque!) were wonderful, and the overall experience was very memorable.
We went back again, not for the extravagant brunch, but for a delicious and extremely value-for-money set dinner during Restaurant Week.
I remember having the best tomato soup of my life, poured solemnly by our server from a carafe into my large bowl-shaped plate. It was smoky, tangy and sweet, all at the same time. I don’t think I’ve had any better tomato soup since then, although the fantastic one at Mad About Sucre comes very very close.
During Restaurant Week the following year, we returned with high expectations. But unfortunately, the food was only mediocre. Apparently their former head chef had left, and took his amazing tomato soup with him. Since then, we’ve not been back.
But when a Facebook ad by Citibank appeared on my news feed the other day, featuring a limited special 1-for-1 four course menu for only S$100++ (or S$58.90 nett per person after service charges and taxes), it was too compelling to ignore and we found ourselves back at Brasserie Les Saveurs once again.
Given our past inconsistent experience, my expectations were set to moderate-high. Because the menu options looked quite appetising, and it was the St Regis after all and Brasserie Les Saveurs is considered a fairly high-end French restaurant.
We had booked the earliest available seating and arrived just before 6.30pm to an empty hotel lobby. The St Regis was just as we had remembered from before, just with less people. As we were being led to our table, I asked the captain what the hotel occupancy was currently running at.
He replied ruefully: “About 20% sir.” Times are indeed tough, and I suppose one way to keep the lights one and the staff paid is to run promotions like this that offer almost irresistible value. I was keeping rough count of the tables as they were being occupied throughout the night and the restaurant was about 20% filled, roughly matching the hotel occupancy.
I know you’re having difficulty reading the printed menu, so here it is again, zoomed in and split into two parts. There were two choices each for the appetiser, main and dessert course with the restaurant’s signature lobster bisque served to each diner after the apps.
The menu was clearly designed with couples dining in mind, because it was a no-brainer to choose all the dishes and share everything among the two of us.
When the waiter came to take our order, The Wife stated her preference for each course and I simply went: “I’ll have the opposite.” Which elicited a hearty laugh, followed by: “Certainly sir, I was just about to suggest the same thing!”
The bread basket was a simple sourdough served warm and split into quarters, and our amuse bouche was a choux puff filled with mushroom béchamel. Honestly, I was expecting something that would open up our palates a bit more, and presented in a more appetising form. It was still tasty, but let’s just say that my bouche was not amused, dropping my expectations a notch from moderate-high to just moderate.
Our appetisers were served and they came in decent-sized portions, presented prettily on large white plates. The flavours were refreshing and well-balanced, although there were a couple of small details that held the dishes back from being truly delicious.
The octopus was slightly overcooked, making it more chewy than it could have been, and the burrata was not soft and gooey enough inside. But the heirloom tomatoes were wonderfully flavourful and more than made up for the slight deficiencies.
Lobster bisque was next and the way it was served reminded me of the tomato soup I had many years back. Firstly, our waiter set down our bowl-shaped plates with the neatly assembled lobster, microgreens and croutons.
He paused for a while as The Wife whipped out her phone to take photos, and then asked: “Ready?” When she nodded back, he proceeded to fill our plates with bisque from his large gravy boat, creating a viscous moat around the mini lobster island.
I don’t know why, but this way of presenting soup always impresses the heck out of me. I just find it so elegant and bourgeois (an atas French word that means atas), and it tasted as good as it looked.
The bisque was full of rich crustacean flavour, and the different tastes and textures of the lobster, herbs and croutons balanced well with each other. There was just a hint of cognac that was present but not overwhelming that completed the entire bisque experience. It was very good.
The pretty plating continued for the remaining courses, with the beautifully grilled beef tenderloin sitting on one side of the plate, next to the garden of peas, romanesco, charred onion and watercress. The rosemary jus was served separately, and The Wife just added a small splash for effect before taking the snap.
After the bisque, the beef was our second favourite dish of the night. The meat was flavourful, juicy and made even better with the accompanying jus. Romanesco seems to be a popular vegetable to use nowadays, and it was a good choice adding it here. The sweet and nutty taste melded well with everything else.
I’m usually not a fan of having any sort of foam on my plate, because I find it artificially fancy. But hey, this was turning out to be a fancy bougie meal and the foam fit right in with the overall theme.
The ratatouille coulis was bold and dominant, but moderated slightly by the baby artichoke and crunchy zucchini ribbon. The barramundi unfortunately had a faint muddy taste, a sign that it could have been farmed in freshwater instead of wild-caught from the sea.
By the time our desserts arrived, we were starting to feel quite full, but we still had sufficient capacity to enjoy the strawberry cake and chocolate tart. The 70% Valrhona Guanaja chocolate tart was probably the darkest and densest tart I’ve ever had, and was totally enjoyable.
The fraisier was much lighter and had a refreshing strawberry tartness. The pistachio ice cream was probably not necessary, but since it’s my favourite ice cream flavour, I wasn’t complaining.
They say that we first eat with our eyes, and from that perspective, the pretty plates served by Brasserie Les Saveur deserve high marks, with the presentation of the lobster bisque deserving special mention.
Taste-wise, despite a few minor flaws, it was definitely a good meal. Without the 1-for-1 offer, the full price of the four course dinner would have been S$117.70 nett per person and I would have to think twice about returning. But in my eyes, Brasserie Les Saveurs had redeemed itself, and as we were happily digesting, I scanned the QR code to take a look at their normal menu.
What caught my eye was their Sunday champagne brunch. It was still as pricey as I remembered from before, but their limited but high quality selection did look very tempting. The semi-buffet format also provides a good balance between choice and quality, as we experienced at a recent dinner at One-Ninety Restaurant in the Four Seasons Hotel.
It’s perhaps worth a celebratory splurge, when the global pandemic finally blows over, whenever in the future that may be.
On the service front, the restaurant scored full marks. Despite being a fancy-schmancy French restaurant, the captain and waiters were all very friendly and sincere and didn’t give off any pretentious nose-in-the-air vibe at all.
Case in point, we only managed to finish half of our sourdough and when they cleared our table before serving desserts, we requested for the remaining bread to be packed for takeaway so that it wouldn’t be wasted, and they happily agreed.
When we paid and were ready to leave, they didn’t pass us the leftover bread and we asked if they could bring it out for us. The waiter, a different person from the one who took the bread, looked a bit confused and went back to the kitchen to check. It took a while, but we got our takeaway box.
Given the delay, I had a feeling that there was a mix-up in the kitchen and they had accidently discarded our leftover bread. To me, the fact that we still got a takeaway box but had to wait could only mean one thing — that they actually gave us a fresh loaf. I opened the box to take a peek, and I was right.
It’s a small and trivial matter, but for them to do that without making any fuss whatsoever is testament to their high service standards. And in Singapore, that’s not something you see everyday, and for that, I give them props.
Thank you Brasserie Les Saveurs, and I hope to be back soon for your Sunday champagne brunch. Because when that day comes, it means that we would have put the pandemic behind us, and the world is in a better place.
(Note: This visit was made in April, before “Phase 1.5” restrictions came into effect on 16 May)