Michelin-starred chef Anne-Sophie Pic waves her culinary magic wand in the Lion City, which manifests in a host of novel flavours at her latest outpost nestled within the iconic Raffles Singapore.
Acclaimed French chef Anne-Sophie Pic â€“ who has seven Michelin stars under her belt â€“ made her debut in Asia with the opening of La Dame de Pic at the restored Raffles Singapore earlier in July.
The 46-seater took over the space in the main hotel building that once housed the Raffles Grill. Gone are the wooden chairs and stiff white tablecloths of yesteryear, all of which have been updated with plush maroon armchairs and black-topped tables rimmed with metallic accents.
Pic follows in the footsteps of her father and grandfather, hailing from a long lineage of chefs. Her great grandmother started Maison Pic in Valence in 1889, which was succeeded by her grandfather AndrĂ©, who earned the restaurant its first three Michelin stars in 1934. Picâ€™s father Jacques later took over the business in 1956 until his death in 1992. Picâ€™s brother then ran the restaurant briefly before she eventually decided to continue the family business.
The third-generation chef-owner has two other La Dame de Pic restaurants, one each in Paris and London.
Over the course of a languid, three-hour lunch, every canapĂ©, amuse bouche, and dish that was placed before me was gorgeously plated, brightly coloured, and light on the palate. Cuisine-wise, Picâ€™s creativity is evident, for she â€“ together with chef de cuisine Kevin Gatin, her prodigy of eight years â€“ took the time and effort to add a local twist to contemporary French dishes.
For instance, her signature dish, Berlingot, pasta parcels found in all three of her restaurants adapted to reflect its own locale, has been given an Asian twist.
Here in Singapore, the pyramid-shaped pasta was matcha-flavoured, filled with molten French cheese fondue, and covered in a consommĂ© derived from green zebra tomatoes and infused with chou chao (a medicinal herb that literally translates to â€śsmelly grassâ€ť from Mandarin, known as the herb of grace in English). Apparently, Pic was strolling through one of our wet markets when she discovered the local herb!
Some of the snacks served also demonstrated Picâ€™s boundless creativity, and revealed how she wields her flavour combinations like a sharp-edged sword, constantly surprising my palate. Think curry inside liquid chocolate balls; a cracker topped with lemon confit and mushroom gel; and yoghurt dollops on basmati rice chips.
I also noticed that all of our main courses came graced with a consommĂ©. Without fail, every time a consommĂ© was poured into the dish, its delicious aroma would waft lazily to my nose, helping to whet my appetite. Pic values aroma complexities, and it is something she tries to bring forth in all of her dishes.
More Asian influences could be found also in the Wild Turbot where the dishâ€™s apple-based broth was infused with marigold; and the piĂ¨ce de rĂ©sistance, the Saga Wagyu Beef â€“ a juicy, roasted chunk of Japanese Wagyu accompanied with smoked beetroot and an osmanthus-infused mushroom broth.
Even the dessert wasnâ€™t spared the gentle touch of an Asian herb, where the White Mille-feuille (another of Picâ€™s signatures) featured a ginger flower light cream, confit grapefruit and Litsea cubeba emulsion. The dessert, which upon first look emulated a wobbly square piece of tofu, was actually an intricate and complex work of art when cut into. Definitely do not judge a book by its cover, for I was astounded by the number of layers and textures that were hidden beneath its unassuming white shell.
It is also worth mentioning that I do not drink alcohol, and as such, was pleasantly surprised that La Dame de Pic offered a tea pairing. My choice for the afternoon was the Bo Hojicha Coffee Tea. It was a smooth, roasted tea with a green tea base, and was refreshing and absolutely delightful. The tea is one of two blends, the other being Chamomile Oolong, that chef Pic has created for her restaurant here.
Set lunches, good for business travellers, start from S$128 (US$93) per person, with an extra S$58 for wine pairing.
Should time allow, consider La Dame de Pic for a private dinner party. There are three menus (Exploration, Experience and Elegance) offered during dinner, which differ by the number of courses. Menus are pegged S$198, S$218 and S$328 respectively, with an extra S$98, S$118, S$158 for wine and sake pairing. These three menus can be opted for more indulgent lunches.
The minimum spend to buy out the restaurant is S$22,500 (US$16.387). A minimum of three months is recommended but as always, it is subject to availability.
It was an impeccable five-course meal â€“ peppered with numerous canapĂ©s and palate cleansers â€“ in an iconic hotel on a lazy afternoon.
Despite the plethora of options that we have in the Singapore dining scene, only a handful are founded by female chefs, or helmed by one, which is another solid reason why this restaurant stands out.