Saturday, August 23, 2014

Antoinette's Savoury Side: French Classics Star in Chef Pang's New Menu

Such a pretty display cake

Mention Antoinette and most people will call to mind expertly crafted French-style desserts, and a well-loved place for tai-tai tea. Oh, the sweets are sublime indeed at this restaurant, pâtisserie and salon de thé inspired by Marie Antoinette's favourite hideaway chateau, the Petit Trianon.

Le Grande Jardin d’Antoinette (The Grand Garden of Antoinette)

But their savoury dishes are just as enthralling. There are all-day breakfast items, starters and salads, hearty main courses, sandwiches, blinis, crepes, and even pastas.

Recently, they updated the menu with some regional French classics, both on the sweet and savoury side.

Chef Pang Kok Keong

Chef Pang Kok Keong's foundation is actually in classical French cuisine. He is not just Singapore's beloved Sugar Daddy, he's a master at the savouries too. In his savoury dishes, you'll find the same precise and meticulous dedication he lavishes on his pastries.

"I'm not about being trendy or a hipster," says Chef Pang. His food is about comfort, connection and a continuity with the past. He has chosen classics that have stood the test of time.

Here are some of the new all-day dishes you can find:

Salade d'Été (Summer Salad)
Salade d'Été (Summer Salad) S$16.50
A lovely and colourful salad that's beautifully refreshing. It's got quinoa, compressed watermelon, roasted butternut squash, pumpkin seeds, feta cheese, sherry vinaigrette, olive oil, and sour dough chips that make this salad 'take flight'.

L’oeufs en Meurette (Poached egg with Red Wine Sauce)
L’oeufs en Meurette (Poached egg with Red Wine Sauce) S$17.50
If you love wine, this will be the perfect start to your day. The smoked pork belly is bathed in a heady red wine sauce. Toasted levain bread (all the gorgeous bread is made inhouse) makes a great base for the poached egg.

L’oeufs en Meurette (Poached egg with Red Wine Sauce)
See? I love the bread. I'm not a wine person, so the sauce was a little too strong for me, but the egg, pork and bread were perfect.

Le Grande Jardin d’Antoinette (The Grand Garden of Antoinette)
Le Grande Jardin d’Antoinette (The Grand Garden of Antoinette, also first photo) S$30 
Gardens are an apt name. With a dozen or more ingredients of contrasting colours, textures and flavours, the salads here are an absolute delight. Beautifully seared roasted duck breast with tangy pickled pears, a poached egg, roasted asparagus, baby carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, cresses, flowers, mixed greens, sunflower seeds, button mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, lotus root chips, lavosh crackers and caramel orange dressing. There's a lot of work just prepping for this dish!

This is the big garden (main course); there is also a small garden (Le Petit Jardin, S$20.50) in the starter that features foie gras on levain toast.

Entrecôte Poêlée à la Bordelaise (Black Angus Ribeye Minute Steak with Shallot Red Wine Sauce)
Entrecôte Poêlée à la Bordelaise (Black Angus Ribeye Minute Steak with Shallot Red Wine Sauce) S$36
This turned out to be one of my favourite dishes here. It's an understatement to say this was a beautiful steak with an amazing sauce. I normally prefer my steaks sans sauces, but this sauce was a perfect complement that made the beef sing me an aria. Singing cow? Well, I was just mooved.

Shrimp Capellini

Shrimp Capellini, S$26 
Capellini pasta with sea shrimp, Sakura ebi and rocket leaves. Umami bomb! They are generous with the crustacean oil, maybe just a little too generous. It was aromatic but the mouthfeel just a tad greasy. I still liked this though.

French Toast with Ham and Cheese
French Toast with Ham and Cheese, S$14
One of the four Pain Perdu Avec Crème Chantilly, this one is quite an unusual sweet and savoury combo - ham and cheese, AND maple syrup. It's made all the more decadent with Swiss Gruyère cheese cream, balanced by a salad on the side.

These are just some of the savoury highlights - the menu is pretty extensive. Have a look online.

On the sweet side, Chef Pang continues to dazzle with dramatic desserts. New on the menu are four "plated desserts" - three of which we managed to try.

La Vacherin de la Reine
La Vacherin de la Reine (The Queen's Vacherin) S$25
Witness this stunning confection of rose petal meringue filled with yuzu cream, vanilla ice cream, vanilla creme Chantilly, lychees, strawberries and raspberries, topped with a crown of ethereal spun sugar. I hear shrieks of delight. It is very sweet though. I'd wager the sugar content of this thing to be 65% or more.

Rum Baba
Baba aux Fraises (Strawberry Baba) S$18
This is a Rum Baba soaked in citrus vanilla syrup perfumed with dark rum. In the strawberry coulis lie kirsh macerated strawberries, and the baked dough is topped with vanilla creme Chantilly. Beware, the rum is strong in this one.

The Baked Alaska split open
The Omelette Norvégienne S$25
Or more plainly, the Baked Alaska, which is another dramatic dessert. It is a grand classic, not easy to make at all. Most baked Alaska desserts are more fun to watch than eat, but this one is tasty. Griotte cherries cooked in kirsch, are enveloped together with orange confit and almond nougatine in a torched blackcurrant meringue.

Baked Alaska in action
Grand Marnier liquer is poured over and flamed. Do not go too near if you are wearing abundant hairspray.

The signature array of desserts
The signature array of smaller desserts remain as alluring as dancers in a Nutcracker dream. There are some new cakes - Désir (chestnut, front row), Cafe Noix (coffee), Charlotte (Tahitian vanilla and strawberry, second row from front, named after his second daughter), Forét Blanc (white forest, third row from front), and Le Fruitier (almond and fruits).

A selection of Chinese teas and fruit teas now complement the desserts
What's also interesting is the selection of teas that go with the desserts, now including Chinese tea blends like the Oriental Beauty (S$10), which is a sencha flavoured with organic rose petals, calendula marigold flower and a hint of mint. "I feel that the clean, light profile of Chinese tea goes well with desserts, especially pastry," says Chef Pang.

Mango and Dill tea
There are also gorgeously refreshing iced fruit teas like this Iced Yuzu, Mango and Passionfruit (S$12.50 per pot) - it's got dill in it too. "The iced teas are visually appealing and reminds me of a garden picnic," says Chef Pang.

With these new items, Antoinette's menu now not only boasts variety but depth as well. However, the familiar favourites remain - Boeuf Bourguignon, Ballotine de Poulet à la Grand-mère, Classic French Onion Soup, and so on. Again, very much French classics.

Antoinette's decor is decidedly feminine with lots of flowers

They have always had savoury selections, as you can see in my previous posts:

Personally, I like savoury stuff more than I do desserts, and I am thankful there are choices for people who love both sweet and savoury. You don't have to be a dessert person to enjoy Antoinette. They've got it all.

ANTOINETTE is at three locations:

Main branch
30 Penhas Road, off Lavender Road,
Singapore 208188
Tel: +65 6293-3121
Open daily:
Monday to Thursday – 11am to 10pm (Last order - 9.30pm)
Friday and Eve of Public Holidays – 11am to 11pm (Last order - 10.30pm)
Saturday – 10am to 11pm (Last order - 10.30pm)
Sunday and Public Holidays – 10am to 10pm (Last order - 9.30pm)

Mandarin Gallery
333A Orchard Road,
Mandarin Gallery #02-33/34
Singapore 238897
Tel: +65 6836-9527 (sorry, no reservations)
Open daily:
11am to 10pm daily (Last order - 9.30pm)

Palais Renaissance
390 Orchard Road,
Palais Renaissance #B1-08/09/10C
Singapore 238871
Tel: +65 67356392
Open daily:
11am to 10pm (Last order - 9.30pm)

Mooncake Macaron from Antoinette - with lotus paste and salted egg yolk filling
P.S. Check out mooncake macarons - with an unusual filling of lotus paste and centre of salted egg yolk!

Thanks to Bing for the invite, and Chef Pang for the lunch!

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