After a two-month hiatus, the two Michelin-starred Saint Pierre reopens its doors for a true culinary adventure that will certainly help chase the COVID blues away
There are some meals which stay with you, long after you have eaten it — not only because it is now taking a happy place at your waistline — but because it was truly exceptional and you tell everyone you know about it. We are talking about the kind of meal where, if someone asks for a dinner recommendation for a special occasion, you immediately suggest going to this restaurant. After all, your reputation as a foodie is on the line and the last thing you want to do is to recommend something a friend would not enjoy.
Saint Pierre is such a restaurant, and the meal is one masterfully created by renowned chef and owner Emmanuel Stroobant.
Without a doubt, Saint Pierre would be that perfect place I would recommend, time and time again. As soon as you arrive and are shown to your seat, the efficient and attentive staff will provide you with a personal sanitisation kit consisting of hand sanitiser spray, wet towel, a zip-lock bag to put your mask in and wet wipes. Although most restaurants now do provide hand sanitiser at the door, this is an extra touch which I appreciated.
Hands now squeaky clean, a selection of tiny, beautifully-crafted snacks are served. These were all excellent but the roll of blowtorched Omi beef with watermelon radish, enoki and button mushrooms, cooked in ponzu, stood out to me as did a snack of Sakura Masu, also known as cherry salmon, cured in citrus salt and konbu (kelp) and encased in a miniature taco shell.
For my meal, I had the privilege of tasting the six-course Discovery ($298++) dinner menu, as well as two dishes from the eight-course Adventure ($348++) set. Wine pairing is an additional $180++ for the Discovery menu and $220++ for the Adventure menu. Saint Pierre also offers a lunch menu starting at $128++ for three courses and $158++ for four courses.
We begin with a starter of Japanese Amela tomato, Hass avocado and pomelo — a refreshing palate opener which paved the way for the next dish of N25 Huso Dauricus (Kaluga sturgeon) caviar, Hokkaido scallop and buttermilk parfait. These indulgent pearls of delicate saltiness are complemented perfectly with a base made of a tartar of raw scallop, Jerusalem artichoke and buckwheat.
To pair with the scallops, a Jim Barry Assyrtiko 2017 (Clare Valley) white wine is brilliantly selected and recommended by sommelier, Angel Liu.
Next up is a wonderful dish of Hokkaido hairy crab, served in a savoury, sweet and creamy broth of corn nage and grilled Hokkaido yellow corn. Nage is a flavoured liquid — often used for poaching delicate seafood, and it truly ties this dish of intensely sweet hairy crab together.
The crab is followed by a fantastic serving of marron, finger lime and turnip tea (part of the Adventure menu). Marron, which is a species of crayfish indigenous to Western Australia, is not commonly found or served here, but now that I’ve tried it, I am a convert to the marron’s delicate and sweet flesh. This marron was finished tableside on a barbecue by Chef Stroobant himself.
The bitterness from the turnip tea, sweetness of the marron, and tartness of the finger lime makes this a perfectly balanced dish. Once again, the wine pairing for both these dishes is perfection: A Domaine Pernot-Belicard Meursault Vieilles Vignes 2016, a dry white burgundy wine with notes of fruit and hints of woody complexity.
Now, I am a huge fan of wagyu beef. The next dish of Omi beef — which comes from the Japanese prefecture of Chiba — is exceptional. Served with a sauce made of beef jus and wasabi alongside petit pois, pickled shallots and pickled girolle mushroom, the juicy, fat-marbled beef is front and centre and perfectly medium-rare.
It also comes with a side of sweetbread from Limousin, France, finished with fermented onion foam. No words can describe how much I enjoyed this, especially when paired with the Le Pigeoulet des Brunier Vaucluse 2016.
As with most fine dining restaurants, a cheese course is optional (additional $28). Of course I opted for the cheese because, well, who could say no to a trolley of artisanal fine cheeses? Only stomach space limits my love for cheese, but I found space for four types of cheese: A mild, creamy Manchego, a Comte (aged between 18 to 23 months), a Saint-Meure (goat’s cheese) and a surprisingly pleasing Bouncing Berry, a mature creamy cheddar made with sweet cranberries, which I usually do not like in cheese.
Finally, the meal is completed with a pre-dessert of a zesty and refreshing Shizuoka melon, with lychee sorbet and Tochigi strawberries from Japan.
Then I was very pleased to have more of those juicy and sweet Tochigi strawberries, this time with Valrhona yuzu chocolate, strawberry compote, raspberry vinegar, lemon sponge, and feuillette (from the Adventure menu). Dessert was of course followed by petit fours: Coconut and pineapple on pâte sablée, strawberry marshmallow, a hazelnut chocolate pate choux, an earl grey chocolate, and pistachio macaron.
Truly, fine dining can sometimes be a heavy, indulgent affair but at Saint Pierre, nothing on the menu felt heavy or overpowering.
Everything was a feast for the eyes and the taste buds, and this comes from the fact that Chef Stroobant himself is a yoga enthusiast and vegetarian whose approach to cooking is one of intuition and mindfulness. This philosophy of the Zen Circle or Ensõ strongly shows up in his approach to cooking, which is among some of the most beautifully-plated food I have ever had the pleasure of eating.
Simply put, a meal here is truly a worthy way to splurge and treat yourself and your loved ones.