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Overall rating: 7.5/10
I’m usually a bit skeptical of restaurants that are praised on Tripadvisor, as many ordinary cafes and places that are not even proper restaurants make it to top 10 in a given city. But I was glad that I decided to check out the menu at Rhubarb and afterwards go there (I booked the same day) simply based on finding it on Tripadvisor. The restaurant has one Michelin star, which in my opinion is deserved.
I chose the tasting menu, and those courses were also available a la carte. I also managed to swap one course for another, so that was very nice of the restaurant. The price of the menu was SG$138 (€92). At the time of writing, April 2017, this has gone up to SG$148. I also had a glass of white wine priced at $22 (€14.70). 10 % service charge and 7 % GST (tax) was added to the bill, which seems to be common procedure in Singapore. This meant the bill came to SG$188.32 (€125.75) in total for one person.
Before the actual menu began I had a small amuse bouche, which was pleasant but not extraordinary – which it didn’t need to be either:
The first proper course was raw trout marinated in rhubarb served with fish roe, ricotta, apples, burnt bergamot and rhubarb puree with rose water. Again, pleasant but not spectacular (6/10):
This was followed by the highlight of the meal, which was actually a simple creamy onion soup with a bit of basil oil on top and truffles at the bottom. I can’t say if the truffles were infused with truffle oil, but it was a lovely dish in any case. The truffles were a bit salty, but this only added to the dish. I had a very nice onion soup in Azurmendi in Spain, but this was even better. When I was in Rhubarb I thought this was at least 8/10, but this dish has lived on in my memory, here four months later, so I will give it 9/10:
The next dish was the dish that I managed to get instead of a foie gras dish: Scallops with Mediterranean spices, pork belly, chicken skin, pork jus, and a puree of mostly cauliflower and white chocolate. The chocolate didn’t come through that much, but it was otherwise a very nice dish. As mentioned in my review of Le Cafe de Joel Robuchon in Hong Kong, where I went the day before, the pork here in Rhubarb was much better than in Le Cafe, although the pork here at Rhubarb didn’t quite match the very best ones I’ve had (e.g. in Gordon Ramsay Steak in Las Vegas, or Osteria Francescana in Italy). 8/10:
The main course was Australian Wagyu beef, baby spinach, roasted garlic puree, king oyster mushroom puree with garlic, potato rilette with mushrooms, a shallot, a raddichio leaf, a pea shoot and a beef jus. I liked everything on the plate here, and it could just as well have been Gordon Ramsay, but it was a very rich dish and it needed something refreshing and/or acidic. Instead of the mushroom puree I would have added a pea puree and maybe a lighter sauce. Beef can go surprisingly well with white sauces. I asked for the beef to be medium rare, but I would call this rare, but maybe that’s just me. I often find that fancy restaurants cook the meat less than requested. Overall 7/10:
The dessert was rhubarb marinated in rose water, a lovely refreshing fromage blanc sorbet, which is one of the most perfectly egg shaped sorbets/ice creams I’ve ever had, custard, strawberry puree with mint, pistachios, popping candy and meringue. Again, I liked everything here, except for one thing, which was an unfortunate combination for my palate: the rhubarb marinated in rose water. I can only tolerate rose water in tiny amounts, as it very easily tastes like soap for me (I had more than enough of it in Iran, where they love it). Rhubarb is actually something I enjoy immensely, but here it was completely overpowered by the rose water, and I couldn’t taste the rhubarb at all. What a pity! I would have preferred that no rose water had been used at all. Then I would probably have scored this dish 8/10, but now I’ll give it 7/10.
Petit fours were a lychee jelly with shredded coconut, an overbaked, burnt even, madeleine-like cake, and a chocolate truffle (no flavours added). The madeleine was, obviously, the worst of the bunch, but the others were not exactly spectacular either, the jelly probably being the best. The chocolate truffle ought to have been scented with something in my opinion, although it had very good texture. Overall 6/10.
So, as you can tell, this meal had its ups and downs, but mostly staying in good territory, with one dish soaring clearly above the rest.
I also enjoyed the style of cooking, which I would call solid classic with a slight modern touch. Honestly, I’m getting a bit tired of the hyper creative “look at our modern take on our native dishes and ingredients that everybody used to hate 10-15 years ago”, so this meal was a refreshing break from that. Add to this lovely presentation.
As for the service, the French waiter, who appeared to be the main waiter, was a great waiter, and we also had a small chat at the end. He was a great asset to a place like this, and he makes you forget all the stories you hear about snooty French people :-).
I didn’t like the Asian waitress though. I had asked the guy if I could take pictures of the food, but after I took the first picture, the waitress came up to me and said brusquely: “We allow pictures, but not with flash!”. This is why only one picture looks decent. After I had finished one of the courses, I picked up my plate and handed it to her as she was approaching. I have done this many places, and usually the waiters respond with a big smile and a “thank you”. The waitress here sneered “I can take it myself!”.
This kind of attitude was hardly the end of the world, but the waiter and the waitress were really worlds apart.
Although I didn’t speak to him, the chef came out to the door at end as well and held it for me as I was leaving.
If I come back to Singapore one day I would be happy to revisit Rhubarb.
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