Friday, June 9, 2017

Audace - Precise, Retrained Modern French Cooking

Audace means audacity in French, and that is also the new name of the restaurant formerly known as Cocotte located in the main lobby of Wanderlust Hotel.

But the cooking is less audacious here, and more inclined to a cuisine that has a Steve Jobs focus and precision, and Chef Jeremy Gilon shows much restraint on his simple but visually pleasing crafted plates.

The restaurant looks more like a bistro with it's casual tones and service. Nothing pretentious, and an open view into the kitchen keeps the momentum high during your time here.

Chef Gilon used to helm Michelin one starred Le Montana in the Alps, and it is indeed a blessing of sorts for him to be making Singapore his current port of call. He has also brought with him, an assortment of dried herbs and spices from the Alps and he has infused most of his dishes with them.

Beetroot Salad

His beetroot salad with squid and roasted buckwheat exemplifies his cooking philosophy of clean and simple, yet modern and refreshing. The beetroot sorbet is icy smooth, full of earthy notes but it never gets too bitter to be uncomfortable. The flash fried squid is buttery tender, and the beetroot discs and buckwheat provide some crunch and smokiness.

Braised Octopus

The braised octopus dish is a revelation. It is cooked down until the protein is totally submissive to your palate. A tinge of buttery flavour is retained despite the lengthy cooking time, and the side onion puree is creamy smooth, and full of richness with a generous dollop of butter used. In fact, the subsequent purees from Chef will follow a similar delicious pattern.

Sea Bream and Broccoli

This somewhat modest looking dish still looks striking with that delicious green vegetable puree, but it is the small swipe of salted lemon paste that gives this fish dish such a refreshing citrus hit. As expected, the fish is perfectly cooked, flaky and properly seasoned. And the black olive powder on the side provides a lovely crumbly texture to the occasion.

Lamb Saddle

This pan seared lamb saddle has got to be one of my favourite dishes of the year so far. Perfectly executed to a medium rare goodness, the crust beautifully crafted and a flavourful and elegant jus to provide further moisture to the meat.

Then there is the incredible hay smoked parsnip that will simply overwhelm you with unending gastronomic joy. Tender as expected, but I have never tasted parsnip as delicious and as flavourful as this little piece here. Beautifully and simply presented, a delight to the eyes and palate.

Calamansi Sorbet

The dessert is no slouch either. A straightforward citrus filled dish may seem boring to most, but when you are able to nail every component with great skill and technique, it will naturally stand out and leave you with a lasting impression.

A great way to end the dinner, the sorbet is zesty and sharp. The orange cream provides a richer, creamy base to anchor all the citrus hits, and the dehydrated orange slices providing a somewhat crispy finish.

On an evening where you are worried that the subsequent course will disappoint, that never materialised. If anything, Audcace is the rare dining experience where each course gets better and better and finishing on a high with the meat and pudding courses.

Try as I may to nitpick on the individual elements, I confess I have to give this establishment a perfect score for my dishes. The slight blemish was my wife's giant macaron, which was not as crispy as hoped, but flavour-wise, it was still brilliant.

Service is prompt and friendly, never too high browed and hence, you will feel cosy throughout your meal here. Chef Jillon is a gem of a chef, and his easy manner with the diners is reflective of his passion for feedback and for feeding people.

It is rather hard to dazzle me these days. At Audace, I was most emphatically bedazzled.

2 Dickson Road
Ground floor, Wanderlust Hotel

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