November 10, 2014

Saveur Art @ Ion Orchard ~ How Great Thou Art!

After Saveur and Concetto, hawker-guys turned restauranteurs Joshua Khoo and Dylan Ong are now wooing us with their latest dining concept, Saveur Art! I was there for a lunch session last week, and my heart was effortlessly won over by their repertoire of French-inspired cuisine. How can I not be, when the food was visually beautiful and taste delicious, with prices that are easy on the wallet? One of the dishes was so mind-blowing good, my dining companion, Nat (Rubbish Eat Rubbish Grow) teared. #notexaggerating

Situated on level 4 of Ion Orchard, the restaurant is located conveniently in the heart of town (nearest mrt station: NS22 Orchard). I like its mostly black and white simple interior, with pops of colors adding a touch of vibrancy, casual yet exuding a sense of modern classiness.

Art paintings decorated the wall, food are plates of culinary Art, business is drenched in God's blessings and goes by the motto of How Great Thou Art, Saveur Art couldn't have been more aptly named.

It wouldn't be far off to say that Saveur Art is the atas sibling of Saveur (which prides itself as a restaurant that offers quality yet affordable French cuisine to the masses), going the upmarket route with more exquisite plating and use of premium ingredients like freshly shaved Alba Black & White Truffle and Mangalica Pork.

Prices are correspondingly higher but still kept affordable. With 2-course Lunch for $29, 3-course Lunch for $37 and 4-course Dinner for $52, the set menu deals are still very much value for money.

I've no complains whatsoever on the pricing for the ala-carte menu either, with appetizers starting as low as $10. Popular mains such as Duck Leg Confit ($19) and Managalica Pork Two Ways ($22) are well-kept under $30, with the only exception of Whole Poached Maine Lobster ($49). Prices are in the range of what we have to pay for mediocre fare at most cafés, but it's undeniable that the offerings at Saveur Art excel so much higher in terms of quality, taste and presentation.

We started off with complimentary amuse bouche, Squid Ink Crisps with marinated anchovies and pimento coulis, as well as Seaweed Sabayon in roasted potato dashi, both of which I enjoyed tremendously. Saveur Art's Pasta ($13) soon followed, a serving of chilled angel hair pasta dressed in kombu and olive oil emulsion, accompanied by the delightfully bouncy flesh of Mozambique Langoustine. The pasta could do with a firmer bite, but overall, this was a highly pleasing appetizer.

One thing which you shouldn't leave Saveur Art without getting it down your throat first is the Egg Confit & Truffle ($12, add $18 for freshly shaved truffle). Oh my goodness! It was an orgasmic party of luscious organic egg slow-cooked in water bath, crunchy roasted macadamia nuts and thin crisp chips, heightened by inexplicable lovely scent of truffled potato mousseline and freshly shaved truffles.

Best way to enjoy this appetizer would be to mix all the elements well together, and send generous spoonfuls of it into your mouth to fully savor the medley of flavors and contrasting textures. Hehee that's exactly what I did. The egg confit was so so so awesome, I shouldn't be taken aback when I saw Nat's eyes welled up in sheer gratification.

Ahh..... but those freshly shaved truffles..... to add or not to add? The additional slices of indulgence can be considered pricey, and besides, the dish is already "truffled" with truffled potato mousseline. My advice? Just add lah! You have to experience it at least once.

Some of you might find the dish similar to one at Jaan. Ahh... it turns out that Chef Tyler Lai who now helms the kitchen of Saveur Art used to be the sous chef there. (Sidenote: Jaan has always been on my restaurant wishlist, I must make a visit soon!)

Chestnut & Toasts ($10) was a mini flood of wondrous sensation with the creaminess and subtle sweetness of chestnut velouté, and the additional shavings of truffles enhanced its flavors further. Oops I didn't even spare the side serving of homemade butter brioche which was decidedly too soft and fluffy to be ignored (usually I will skip the less-worthy carbs).

Salads could come across as a tad boring in most cases, but one could not say the same of Greens & Soil ($18), a colorful garden medley of Ibérico ham and warm seasonal organic vegetables such as baby carrots, purple cauliflower and Romanesco broccoli, saltish plots of edible "soil" and moistened with an assortment of pumpkin, beetroot, garlic, pea and yoghurt purees.

It was refreshing and rested lightly on the palate, but we wished for more pieces of ham for a better savory balance. Not to say the dish is not pleasant, but I'd rather spend the same amount of moolah on Grilled Foie Gras ($18) instead on my next visit.

Moving on to the mains, we had the Asian Spiced Braised Short Ribs ($28) that was masterfully executed to fork-tender perfection! Though paired with jalapeno & rosemary crumbs, its predominantly Asian flavors brought forth a familiar taste of homey cooking which I grew up with, making it a safe, comforting and delish choice all at once.

Another dish with an Asian touch was the Poached Maine Lobster ($49 for whole / $25 for half, as seen above). The chunks of lobster meat and one precious piece of lobster ravioli were paired with lobster jus, as well as lentil de puy and lentil puree that was spiced distinctly with cumin, evoking whiffs of of Indian cuisine. My eyes lit up when I bite into the butter-poached crustacean. So fresh and succulent, wow!

Though already quite full when desserts of Vanilla Parfait ($13) with strawberries, rhubarbs, lavender meringue, and Chocolate & Pistachio ($13) arrived, we still polished everything off. The latter made an especially memorable impression. Using superior Valrhona chocolate, it was an alluring combo of Guanaja dark chocolate fondant, Tanariva milk chocolate mousse, Ivoire white chocolate espuma (foam) and Araguani dark chocolate chips, completed with a dollop of pistachio ice cream.

The staff were surprisingly efficient and very knowledgeable about the food they served despite that the restaurant is still very new in operations. We later learned that the team had undergone 2-weeks of training and role-play before opening, to ensure they are all well-prepared.

I truly admire this dedication of Saveur Art which not only strive to bring us sincere, honest food, but an all-rounded dining experience as well. Certainly a place I would recommend to all. How Great Thou Art!

Saveur Art
Address: Ion Orchard #04-11, Singapore 238801
Contact: +65 6634 1141
Opening Hours: Daily 12pm-9.30pm

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