Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine & Cocotte, Singapore

Following our first foray into French cuisine in Singapore at Les Amis we were keen to try two other restaurants that we had heard good things about: Gunther’s Modern French Cuisine and Cocotte. Aside from both serving great Gallic grub these two restaurants could not be more different.

Cocotte’s website informs you that they serve up,  ‘unpretentious, rustic French cuisine in a casual and comfortable setting.’ Here, French country cuisine is best shared around a large table of family or friends.

By contrast, Gunter’s website draws your attention to their ‘warm, elegant, almost gallery-like space’ and ‘iconic furnishings’ which aim to set the mood for appreciating the seasonally updated menu, boasting gourmet cuisine using some of the world’s finest ingredients.

We booked Gunther’s on the strength of their positioning as the 84th Best Restaurant in the World in the 2010 S.Pellegrino list. Although, they had been ousted from the top 100 in the latest version that came out the week before we dined. I suspect that this drop in rating is a result of all the new entries and other restaurants raising their game and not due to any decline in quality of the product since the previous year.

First impressions of Gunther’s were positive; I loved the dark graphite grey walls which provided stark contrast to the splashes of colour afforded by the contemporary artwork and awards, such as their gleaming cherry red Miele Guide trophies (Gunther’s is currently ranked as the 13th Best Restaurant in Asia; 4th in Singapore.)

Along with the menus we were presented with a board showcasing the finest examples of some incredible ingredients such as fresh fish and seafood, grade nine Wagyu, quail, morels, asparagus and a live lobster. Amazing as these luxuries looked, we opted for the incredibly good value set lunch menu as we were nearing the end of our holiday and after two weeks of indulgence the budget was starting to get tight.

I opted for the Smoked salmon, blinis; my wife went for the French potato salad, egg confit and Swiss bacon but the star starter was the Poultry consommé with roasted foie gras that our dining companions both selected. Portions were generous, and the quality of the ingredients shone though in the flavours.

Choice of mains consisted of a Roasted tiger prawn, chili Monte Poro served on a bed of light fluffy rice (as opposed to the usual angel hair pasta.) Extra bread was requested to mop up every last bit of the aromatic and sweet peppery sauce made with the nduja di Monte Poro. (The nduja di Monte Poro is a spreadable salami style spicy sausage from Calabria based on the French Andouille.)

Meltingly tender pork ribs with velvety smooth mashed potatoes were the stars of Gunther’s creation - the surprise element of the set menu which changes daily. Tagliatelle pasta, Provençale style was the preference of the last of our party and I regret not tasting this.

Chef Gunther Hubrechsen paid a visit to the dining room once the mains were out. This was an appreciated personal touch and it was gratifying to be able to pass on our admiration for the food that we had just eaten.

Smooth ice cream, chocolate sauce and choux pastry made for a delightful take on the profiterole (sans cream) that was Gunther’s Dessert of the day.

Tasty petit fours, tea and coffee finished an extremely good meal; made extraordinarily good by the exceptional value for money. Just S$38! (++)

The French food theme was continued with our evening meal at Cocotte.
Here we ordered, what seemed like, half of the impressively authentic rustic French menu. More choux pastry but this time in my starter: one of their signature dishes: Escargot gougères with Parsley cream, tomato coulis in Gruyere pastry.

Other stand out dishes were the:
Navarin d'agneau printanier: Stewed grass-fed lamb shoulder with a mix of fresh baby carrots, new potatoes, fava beans, pearl onions & peas.
Fried Tripe: Slow cooked till tender & coated in crisp breadcrumbs.
Pig’s Trotter: Crispy medallions of tender, boneless pig trotters. Served with arugula & pistachio dressing.

One dish that did not go down well with two of my dining companions was the ‘Moule Frite: Air-flown live French bouchot mussels. Cooked in a light apple cider cream sauce & served with fries.’ They both said the cream sauce tasted sour – although, I tasted it and enjoyed.

We followed our meal with a cheese board to share, which had a limited but good quality selection of French cheeses.

All in all, thanks to Les Amis, Gunther’s and Cocotte, my impressions of French food in Singapore… c'est magnifique!

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