"Omg, I am so underdressed," was the first thought that ran through my mind. A few of us were waiting outside of the restaurant, waiting for Maureen (Miss Tam Chiak - who is basically one of my idols) to arrive. A few days before, I had participated in an instagram competition for the upcoming Accor Hotels Food Festival. The stars somehow aligned and I was chosen to be one of the first peoples to taste the menu for the upcoming food festival.
Even though we went to three restaurants at three different hotels, the one that stuck with me the most was Racines at Sofitel Singapore City Centre. Situated on the 5th floor of the barely one month old hotel building, Racine glowed like a beautiful jewel boxed filled with wonderful pastries and fusion delights.
Took this from accorhotels.com because I was too paiseh to take pictures of the place #fail
The name of the restaurant, "Racines" came from the french word racine which means root. The restaurant wholly believes thats the food that are being served here are deeply rooted in the french food culture. But the interesting twist is that they are also deeply rooted in asian cuisine, which makes the dishes a delicious blend of the two cultures. Before we begin, I would also like to state that this is by far one of the bougiest place I've ever been to in Singapore. So be prepared for a lot of gushing on how pretty/ delicious the food were.
The head chef of Racines, Jean-Charles Dubois, started the journey by taking us through the tasting menu. Bonus: after further research I've just realised that I had tried his cooking before but in a different establishment, Balzac Brasserie, which used to be located near Rendezvous Hotel. I knew I've tasted that beef cheek somewhere before!
Appetizer - Scallops
Carpaccio of Hokkaido Sea Scallops, House Made Tarama, Chive Oil and Grated Yuzu
It's easy to see why scallop carpaccio is one of the staples in french cuisine. Given the right batch of scallop and pairing, it is a simple dish that is jammed packed with umami. In Racines, this dish is paired with truly Japanese essences such as the tarama (fish roe pate) and grated yuzu. The tomatoes didn't only provide a burst of color, but also a sweetness that balances the whole dish together. Though it is cooked in the style of eastern France, the scallops are freshly flown from Hokkaido, Japan.
Soup - Lobster Bisque
Traditional Lobster Bisque, Coral Oil, basil, Emmenental Ravioli and Micro Cress
This dish was introduced as one of the chef's special dishes. Like most french food, lobster bisque or lobster broth, is often very rich in butter and cream (#legend) This particular one hides an overwhelmingly delicious set of ravioli inside. Let's talk about the bisque first, because that thing is creamy as hell. But in a great and amazing way. It is heartwarming and tantalising all in one slurp. It was my first time tasting coral oil, which I suppose is why I couldn't place it at first. Coral Oil, it turns out is bougie AF, because "coral" is actually an unfertilised egg from the female lobster. The essence of it then become the coral oil. It's packed with same flavours of the egg roe, except intensified.
Once you dig into the bowl, and take a bite into one of the ravioli, a burst of cheesy emmenental goodness oozes out. The ravioli itself was done in a perfect al dente style, and had balance of chewy or softness to it.
Here comes the star of the lunch, and as it turns also one of Chef Jean-Charles Dubois's specialty. Braised beef cheek is definitely known as a dish that is deeply rooted in french cuisine. This particular one has been marinated for 24 hours and then slow cooked for 12 hours. Slow cooking has been a trend in a lot of high end restaurants these days, mainly because the flavours are allowed to develop. As the cooking process takes place, complex chemical reaction changes the taste of the food. So the longer it cooks, the more complex the flavours become.
"Wah cut like butter leh!" Was the general response that the table had. And boy was it true. Little the zero effort was needed to cut through the meat, even though is was pretty much cooked well-done. The truffle mashed potatoes that it was paired with blew me away, because it was honestly one of the best mashed potatoes I've ever tried in my life. The creamy texture and rich flavours, paired so well with each bite of the beef cheek. The seasonal greens (carrots and asparagus) were blanched to perfection. It also helped that Racines is one of those restaurants that has its own garden and therefore the freshest greens.
Dessert - Red Bean
Azuki Bean Cream, Orange Peel, Mochi and Hand Made Green Tea Ice Cream
This dessert is easily one of the prettiest desserts I've ever tasted in my life. Wow, it's looks like a terrarium! lol A little dessert dessert garden. The green tea ice cream is of course the highlight. It's clearly homemade because its a perfect balance of bitter and sweet flavours. The base that everything sits on is also a green tea, but this time in gelatine form. It's decidedly bolder and bitter, but provides a perfect balance in the symphony of tastes.
Though azuki or red bean is an expected pairing for green tea ice cream, the one that surprised me the most is the orange mochi. Visually it looks kind of like the garden's rock. Inside of the mochi is a cool, orange filling , that is both sweet and bitter at the same time. It matched so well with the green tea flavour. It was clearly a fresh and delicious ending to the whole meal.
Racines is definitely hosts one of those lunches that will be hard to forget. I think the closest experience that I have to it will be the lunch that I had in Camelia Restaurant, Mandarin Oriental Paris. I will back Racines! And with their lunch set during the Accor Hotels Food Festival that is being held from the 4th - 12th November, it'll be even easier.