March 16, 2014

Food Review: Saveur

Singapore has not seen rain in about forever. 

It has been a bone-dry month for our little island, with little to no rain, a haze rolling in from our neighbours and a sun that just won't quit. I hardly ever leave my house with this heat, unless I have to - and one of the reasons why I would brave this ungodly weather is to meet up with my closest friends for our weekly catch up. 

Our dinner today was at Saveur - recommended to me by my friends, who claim it to be affordable, delicious and quite lovely French cuisine. So in my mind's eye, I visioned a chic, classy place hidden away in some area I have never been before in my life, with fancy waiters, bread baskets and strawberries in their sparkling water. 

I was not prepared to see this:

Essentially smack right in the middle of Far East Plaza, Saveur can almost be missed, with its heavy draped curtains and black, minimalist furniture and decor. Not very French at all, but I did not find myself unhappy - even excited perhaps, fervently hoping that their fresh concepts of French dining extended to their food. 

As we were early for dinner, it was not difficult to get a seat for three of us, and we quickly ordered up some grub. A total of two appetisers were ordered, and we each got individual mains, finishing off with a dessert to share. 

The first of our appetisers: 

Saveur's Pasta, as you should be able to tell by now, is one of their signature appetisers, beautifully presented angel hair pasta curled into a delicate pile, after being tossed in chilli oil, and topped with a generous amount of minced pork sauce, chives and crispy, blush pink ebi. 

It's extremely Japanese. 

I find myself conflicted as I write this, because it was presented French - it used a light sauce for the pasta, but it's toppings are essentially, well, Japanese. Could I make the leap and just say it's fusion food? It's a very popular term now in Singapore. 

Irregardless, this appetiser sufficed to whet the appetite, and I had a laugh when one of my friends remarked that it tasted like a particular instant noodle she had had before. It certainly was not overtly fancy, it was simply a well balanced pasta starter. It's quite strange for me to start with pasta - starch tends to be heavy as an appetiser for me, but I find myself unaffected by this. 

Two of us ordered up the beef for our mains, namely, the Beef Bourguignon:

Now, this was some good grub. This classic beef stew was absolutely, exquisitely tender (I didn't even need my knife at one point) without losing its fat or being dry - served with a red wine sauce (burgundy), flavoured well with hints of sweet onions, garlic, mushrooms, delicate herbs. The beef was also served on a bed of diced carrots and onions, which I could only assume were added towards the last steps of stewing. 

This classic also came with a side of potato gratin and a mixed salad which really made my eyes water. For some reason, the mesclun salad was dressed in a sauce that was heavy, so heavy, on mustard. It was so heavy on mustard that it took me more than willpower to finish the entire thing. The potato gratin was lovely, potatoes not overcooked to mush, enough cream and a hint of salty cheese to balance it out. 

One of our group ordered another of Saveur's signatures, and another classic, Duck Confit: 

I had some of this dish, and as far as I know, it's lovely. The duck meat was off the bone tender, with crispy edges, served on a sweet, creamy bed of mashed potatoes. Other than that, I cannot comment further on this dish since it was not my main. 

My friend tremendously enjoyed her main - it is one of the things she always gets when she visits the establishment. 

Our second, slightly-late appetiser, was this salmon confit. A generous slab of soft pink salmon, stabbed with its own crispy skin, served with an apple and fennel salad. 

When I tried this, the first thing I did was to warily taste the dark, powdery substance sprinkled atop the beautiful slice of fish. The powder had the texture of biscuit crumbs and tasted salty, briney, stocky and very delicious. I found myself perturbed by the familiarity of this crumbly powder, and after reading through the menu again, realized it's kombu dashi - a dried, powdered version of kelp. 

Again, a touch of Japanese on French cuisine. Also, the confit was done perfectly, the salmon cooked just so, with no residual wetness from cooking, and retaining its entire sweet, fatty tenderness. 

As we finished off, I decided to order a dessert to share: 

I have to admit I found myself drawn to this dessert due to its extreme use of citrus elements in an extensive display of preparation. 

I was not disappointed with this beautifully presented dessert, and its many textures and many flavours. The feuilletine provided crisp and crunch, with salty-buttery hints. The blood orange jelly was a tart, sweet softness. The orange granite, or granita, provided sweet subtlety with a not-so-subtle chill of crumbed ice. Around the platter lay bits of freeze-fried pineapples and citrus pieces, all sour and perfect with the other elements served. 

If you are like me, and like ending your meal with sorbets or tart, citrus flavours to cleanse the palate, this dessert will make you so very happy. 

With Saveur, you can expect a compact menu, a bustling environment to chat and have a meal, and most importantly French cuisine (infused with other influences) at an absolutely affordable price range. The existence, and popularity of Saveur is evidence, clear as day, that French, or even fine dining cuisine does not need to cost you much. 

Would I recommend you visit Saveur? With full confidence. Service is excellent, especially from their manager. All it takes is a glance around and she is at your table with a smile - we did have one server who was not having a good day and was clearly not in the mood to serve us. I forgo these servers in lieu of the management's efficiency. 

Everyone is busy, diners are happy, food is lovely and cheap. You don't need much more to visit Saveur. 

Saveur can be located at:

Purvis Street

Far East Plaza

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