Delicate flavours and feminine elegance reign at the newly opened La Dame De Pic

SINGAPORE (July 29): Not since the opening of Marina Bay Sands in 2010 has Singapore been abuzz with so many restaurant openings by big-name chefs. Much has changed since the time Tetsuya Wakuda’s Waku Ghin made its debut as one of the most expensive restaurants in town and Justin Quek traded his 57th-storey perch for a humbler locale by the waterfront — chief of which is the preference for more casual, though upscale, eateries where patrons feel comfortable rocking a pair of dress shorts as they spend upwards of $150 a head.

La Dame De Pic is the first of several restaurants by top toques to make their debut at the restored Raffles Singapore

La Dame De Pic — the first of several restaurants by top toques to make their debut at the restored Raffles Singapore — is not of that ilk. Taking over the space once occupied by The Raffles Grill, the establishment by feted French chef Ann-Sophie Pic is undoubtedly a place to dress up for.

Its elegant dining room is a sublime expression of femininity, clad in soft shades of plum, pink and grey, and anchored by a brass chandelier composed of tiered laser-cut spades (in French, “la dame de pic” means “queen of spades”). The scent of peonies, a stalk of which sits on every table, permeates the air.

The heiress of one of France’s century-old culinary dynasties, Pic, 50, has seven Michelin stars to her name and runs nine restaurants between Paris, London, Lausanne, Valence and, now, Singapore. Expectations, therefore, are high, and Pic has installed chef de cuisine Kevin Gaten, a trusted employee of more than eight years, as the gatekeeper of her restaurant’s impeccable standards.

Pic and Gaten will serve up her distinct brand of seasonal French fare with well-loved signatures anointed with local touches

Gaten serves Pic’s distinct brand of seasonal French fare, including well-loved signatures anointed with local touches. These include a dish of Berlingots, fragile parcels of cheese fondue-filled pasta (main image). For Singapore, the pasta is dyed a deep jade with matcha and has the sharp bitterness of chou cao, or herb of grace, typically used in Chinese medicinal brews.

Also on the menu is a petite slab of gently cooked turbot served with various textures of zucchini and drizzled with a Granny Smith apple broth kissed with the grassiness of marigold and tarragon. The austere flavours of this dish unravel quietly with every bite, mirroring the subtle charms of the dining room.

These dishes are preceded by a bevy of almost too-pretty-to-eat snacks. There are friable honeycomb crackers topped with dabs of mushroom confit and lemon gel; cured slivers of tilefish draped atop light-as-air rice crackers; and cocoa butter pastis filled with yuzu and coffee.

A dusky pink slab of impossibly tender wagyu tenderloin imbued with intense umami

Their quiet flavours lull the palate into a happy stupor, so it is a bit of a shock when we take a bite of a dusky pink slab of impossibly tender wagyu tenderloin and find it imbued with intense umami. It is delightful surprises such as this that exemplify just how Chef Pic has quietly risen to the ranks of the world’s top restaurants, one gorgeous shade of pink at a time. With any luck, the queen of spades might find a reigning spot in Singapore’s competitive dining scene too.

Annette Tan is a freelance food writer


LA DAME DE PIC RAFFLES SINGAPORE
Raffles Hotel Singapore 1 Beach Road
Tel: 6337 1886
Opening hours: Tuesday to Saturday (noon to 2pm; 7pm to 9.30pm)
Closed on Sunday, Monday and public holidays
Set lunch from $128++; set dinner from $198++
For more information: www.ladamedepic.com.sg