The signature restaurant and bar of French luxury hotel Sofitel So Singapore, located on the ground floor of the beautifully iconic 35 Robinson Road building, is Xperience Restaurant & Bar. Barely a 10 minute walk from Raffles Place MRT, it's easily accessible - and very affordable given the superb quality.
As suggested by its name, Xperience Restaurant focuses on experiential dining. Resident chef Ms. Anne-Cecile Degenne, one of Singapore's first few female hotel executive chefs, helms the team that creates a one-of-a-kind dining affair charaterised by different culinary experiences. It's menu is no ordinary one, instead characterised according to textures and tastes: crunchy, juicy, smoky, creamy, silky, spicy and zesty.
We were invited to taste items from Xperience Restaurant's newly revamped menu. Designed by Chef Degenne, the new menu expands its European-Asian offerings to include dishes with French and Local inspirations. All-time favourites like the Lobster & Scallop Risotto (S$40++) and Foie Gras Truffle Siew Mai (S$31++) are retained on the newer menu.
Note that dishes pictured are of smaller tasting portions, and prices quoted are for full-portioned a la carte dishes.
Truffle Pao with Short Ribs Stuffing (S$25++)
Exemplary of the philosophy behind the new menu, this dish of truffle pao sees a talented creation with both French and local influences. Infused with charcoal and truffle paste, these earthy buns are light, soft, fluffy, and absolutely delicious. Where most truffle dishes end up overpowering, these little bites managed to bring out that truffle fragrance subtly to complement the whole dish. The melt-in-your-mouth stuffing of sous vide short ribs is equally amazing, resulting in a flavourful dish I'll definitely order again.
Pan-seared Foie Gras, Beluga Lentil and Hazelnuts (S$21++)
Silky, rich, decadent foie gras: Xperience's interpretation sees the perfectly pan-seared foie gras paired with aromatic lentils and crunchy hazelnuts to create a hearthy and earthy starter. While I loved the individual components and the novel pairing, I would've liked a little more acidity to help cut through the slightly heavy dish.
Cauliflower and Mushroom Texture (S$23++)
It may seem surprising, but this vegetarian dish was the uncontested favourite of the table. Essentially cauliflower and mushrooms both done three ways, this dish shone for its simplicity and ingenius play on textural compositions. The cauliflower is puréed with cream, served freshly grated, and grilled to a char; then topped with bunashimeji mushrooms, dehydrated king oyster mushrooms, and Vietnamese rice paper dusted with mushroom salt. The end result is a mélange of crunchy, soft, and creamy textures amidst impressive flavours.
Grilled Beef Tenderloin, Mushroom, Asparagus and condiments (S$36++)
A perfectly medium-rare grass-fed Black Angus tenderloin with grilled asparagus and mushrooms, atop a creamy asparagus and sweel basil purée, all drizzled with a balsamic and yuzu reduction, and served with homemade condiments of sun-dried tomato and olive paste - this is every meat-lover's slice of heaven.
Once again I adore the complexity of textures and flavours created here. All of that paired with a juicy and tender slab of tenderloin makes this a stunning dish, and for such a reasonable price too! My only concern is the tart olive paste which clashes a little with the savoury elements.
White Chocolate and Yuzu Crémeux (S$16++)
Not usually the biggest fan of yuzu, this dessert was an astonishing delight. Chef Degenne adopted a deconstructed method in this dessert, having the (very) sour yuzu sorbet lay between white chocolate mousse and baked white chocolate tuile, interlaced with raspberries, mint, and white chocolate powder. I especially liked how I can create multiple flavour experiences by combining different elements of the dessert in a bite. A refreshing and light ending to a wonderful meal.
While perfecting classics and dishing up hearty good food is important, taking the simplest and most basic of ingredients, and elevating that to fine dining quality is another skill set all together. Chef Degenne achieves that with Xperience Restaurant's new menu, designing new creations with amazing finesse and ideas, stunning because of its simplicity. With such quality food as reasonable prices, Xperience Restaurant is definitely a place I'll keep my eyes on.
To celebrate the launch of their new menu, Xperience Restaurant is offering 25% off the total a la carte food bills for weekday dinners and weekends till 31 July 2015.
Xperience Restaurant & Bar
Sofitel So Singapore
35 Robinson Road Ground Floor
Opened daily from 6.30am-10.30pm