Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Novus Celebrates 5th Year at National Museum
Novus is celebrating its fifth year at the National Museum. This modern European fine-dining restaurant also welcomes back its executive chef Stephan Zoisl, who went on an 8-month sabbatical last year. He went around Europe and South-East Asia to taste the best restaurants, and even had a month-long privileged apprenticeship at The Fat Duck!
At a recent tasting, I learned that The New York Times endorsed Novus as one of the must-try stops if you have 36 hours in Singapore. And Forbes Traveller listed Novus as one of the best museum restaurants.
This was my first time at Novus. It's posh and pretty, but not too pretentious. The lovely service allows you to feel equally at ease, whether you're negotiating business over lunch, or having a romantic dinner.
Novus is quite popular with the business crowd at lunchtime. They have two-course set lunches for S$32, and three course set lunches at S$40. Prices below are a la carte, but you may be able to choose them as entrees or mains for set lunches too.
Amuse bouche of a fresh baby radish on "edible earth" (made from malt, olives and other ingredients). Wow, this really looked like it was plucked fresh from the garden. I guess it's the perfect thing for the Year of the Rabbit. The tangy cream at the bottom went very well with the crunchy "earth" bits and the crisp radish.
The Foie Gras Lassi v2.0 (S$24) - yes, apparently there was a version 1! Goose liver (marinated with port wine, Sherry, Madeira and Brandy) is combined with shallots, thyme, butter and eggs, and then slow-poached to create a delectable parfait. It's then layered with yoghurt, grape gel and sprinkled with pistachio nuts. This cold starter is an explosion of flavours, as you can imagine, and fortunately a pleasing one.
Hamachi - cured hamachi, braised Britannia seaweed, granny smith apple, red cabbage.
This is home-cured hamachi, and tastes quite delicate. Notice the little details the chef goes to? The tiny leaves on jelly dotting the plate?
By the way, I love how each dish comes with a little description and trivia card, on silvery special paper. Very thoughtful. The more you know about your food, the more you will appreciate it. And it makes such a nice souvenir to take home.
Sometimes it's nice to see what ingredients are in the soup. Their soups are poured right in front of you, and you see the goodies before they get submerged.
Shellfish Bisque (S$24) - scallops, prawns and crabmeat raviolini. Delicious umami broth!
If you prefer something a little lighter, try the clear "Duck Tea" (S$16) - duck consomme, quail egg, trumpet and brown enoki mushroom, smoked duck breast, black truffle. The tastes here are ethereal and light. Nothing too intrusive.
Crisp Duck Confit (S$32) - confit duck leg, beetroot, turnip, potato puree with pommery mustard, thyme jus. This is one of their signature items, and is quite well-executed. You can see the crispy skin, the moist flesh, and yes, you can almost smell the salty, browned aroma of the duck.
Kurobuta Pork - olive oil poached pork tenderloin, potato onion cannelloni, braised capsicum, garlic chips. This almost looks like a little garden. It comes with a sauce too (I took the picture before it was poured).
Snow Cod and Olive (S$38) - pan-seared snow cod, olive oil emulsion, globe artichokes, potato creme, basil. I liked this. The olive tapenade matched the fish well, without overpowering its taste.
Black Angus Beef Variation (S$50) - tenderloin, braised cheek, sauce bordelaise, assorted mushrooms. All full of meaty aromas.
These come with "triple-cooked fries" - i.e. fries that are first steamed, then twice-fried. The result? Fries that are so soft inside, they taste like fried mash potato sticks!
There are a couple more main dishes that also looked interesting on the a la carte menu. They change the dishes seasonally, depending on the freshest ingredients available.
As for sweet endings, there is a pretty good range of desserts.
Chocolate Test (S$16) - Valrhona souffle, Lindt creme brulee, Barry Callebaut-espuma (mousse) and vanilla sorbet. Chocoholics, rejoice!
Mille Feuille - marinated apples, filo, mascarpone creme, candied walnuts - served with cassis ice cream.
Deconstructed Mango (S$16) - mango textures, white nougat ice cream, chocolate dust, yoghurt crisp. This is an adventure in textures. The normally hard and chewy nougat is now in soft ice cream form, and yoghurt comes to us hard and crunchy!
Ah my kind of dessert! Cheese platter - five types of cheese, red grape mustard and dried grapes. The dried grapes are dried inhouse - they still come on the stems!
So there you have some of Novus' signature items. They will have regular changes depending on the season. Right now, white asparagus features quite strongly on the menu. You can take a look at their menu updates here.
Novus does go all out to make your visit memorable. As I was leaving, I was presented with a farewell gift - a lovely cupcake in a little Chinese takeout box. Every dining guest receives this, and the gift may vary. Again, another thoughtful gesture.
Many thanks to FoodNews and to Novus for inviting me to capture their inventive dishes and experience their service!
NOVUS RESTAURANT, BAR, CAFE & COURTYARD
National Museum of Singapore
93 Stamford Road #01-02
Tel: +65 6336-8770
Open 11:30am – 2:30pm; 6:30 – 10:30pm (Closed on Sundays)
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