Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Lunch with Daniel Boulud: New Mediterranean Picks

Lunch. At db Bistro Moderne. With Daniel Boulud himself. You know this is going to be an awesome experience. Come, share it with me.

Daurade a la Plancha - Seabream with Romesco Sauce and Arugula
Daniel's brought Mediterranean-inspired dishes from his newly opened Boulud Sud in New York. Think sun-kissed coasts and gem-blue seas curving around Spain, Côte d'Azur, Italy, Greece, Turkey, all the way down to exotic Northern Africa. What diversity.

Daniel Boulud in Singapore
This seems quite a departure from the Lyonnais chef's French-American repertoire, but Boulud Sud has already garnered rave reviews and Daniel is excited to share some of the new dishes with us. The selections will be introduced slowly, not all at once. Some may be temporary, some permanent...I think it all depends on how well it is received here.

Cuvée Daniel and a Rosé wine
Let us start with something to drink. Several celebrity chefs have their own champagne labels, and Boulud has his Cuvée Daniel. There is also a Rosé from Bandol to go with the starters. Cheers.

A spread of Mediterranean Dishes to Share
The starters arrive quick and fast, a glorious and wonderful spread. Perfect for sharing.

Grilled Octopus with Marcona Almonds, Arugula, Jerez Vinegar
Grilled Octopus with Marcona Almonds, Arugula, Jerez Vinegar. There's something magical about a la plancha, the dance that meats do on a hot metal plate. The octopus is beautifully flavoursome. While I have had it more tender at Santi's, this version is still a great appetiser. It's lovingly coddled by the almond puree and orange salad, and perked up by a spritz of Jerez vinegar (Spanish sherry vinegar).

Spicy Duck Kataifi with Date Chutney
Spicy Duck Kataifi with Date Chutney. This almost looks like dim sum, but the flavours are far more exotic. The moist, sweet chutney is a great counter to the crunchy deep-fried phyllo strips and savoury meat. Kataifi is normally a sweet item featuring syrup, nuts and honey, but here it's used in a more unusual manner, with meat.

Seared Spanish Mackerel with Piquillo Vinaigrette
Seared Spanish Mackerel with Piquillo Vinaigrette. Well, they've actually made mackerel tasty! It's pan-seared with a decidedly smoky mixture of spices which only enhance the strong flavours of the fish. The piquillo (a Spanish pepper resembling a "small beak") vinaigrette gives it some sweetness.

Vitello Tonato with Celery, Anchovy and Capers
Vitello Tonato with Celery, Anchovy and Capers - perhaps the most shy of the starters with its pleasantly muted flavours. The vitello tonato is a classic Italian summer dish of cold sliced veal topped with a creamy tuna sauce.

Chickpea and Eggplant - Herb Falafel, Fresh Hummus, Babaganoush
Chickpea and Eggplant - Herb Falafel, Fresh Hummus, Babaganoush. Possibly the best hummus and babaganoush I've ever had.

Lavash crackers to go with hummus and babaganoush
Lavash crackers to go with hummus and babaganoush. Absolutely essential.

Cured Anchovies, Shaved Fennel, Tomato and Crispy Socca
Cured Anchovies, Shaved Fennel, Tomato and Crispy Socca. Anchovies? Have no trepidation. Try them and see just what really good anchovies are supposed to be like. My eyes have been opened.

So those are the starters.

Chef Boulud goes back into the kitchen to prepare our mains.

Chef Daniel Boulud in the kitchen overseeing our lunch
There he is, personally dabbling in some of the cooking, and overseeing our lunch preparation.

The mains, when they arrive, are picture perfect.

Daurade a la Plancha - Seabream with Romesco Sauce and Arugula
Daurade a la Plancha - Seabream with Romesco Sauce and Arugula.

OK, I have to say, Daniel Boulud does fish very well. The mackerel was a miracle, and now the seabream is grilled to scrupulous perfection. You can even see just how evenly crisp it is on the outside. The Catalonian Romesco sauce is also a superb accompaniment - redolent with roasted peppers, garlic and nuts.

I'm also glad to learn the Daurade is now on the lunch menu at db's.

Tuscan Style Dry-Aged Ribeye, with Wild Mushrooms, Taggliasca Olives, Fava Beans and Sauce Salsa Verde
Tuscan Style Dry-Aged Ribeye, with Wild Mushrooms, Taggliasca Olives, Fava Beans and Sauce Salsa Verde. Very tender cut of meat done medium rare. But for me, the fava beans steal the show - they are incredibly meaty, garlicky and addictive.

Grapefruit Givre
The famous Grapefruit Givré designed by Ghaya Oliveira, Boulud Sud's pastry chef who comes from Tunisia. It's a hollowed out grapefruit filled with grapefruit sorbet, compote of grapefruit, halva crumble, and other goodies. The sesame halva on top is almost like cotton candy.

My fellow blogger friend Justin found a Zagat video showing how she puts this together.

Grapefruit Givre reveals Sesame Halva, Rose Loukoum, and Grapefruit Sorbet
Crack open the candied tuile on top and discover pieces of rose loukoum embedded within. It's got the texture of gummy bears, so that adds a bit of fun to the dessert, which otherwise has a very grown-up taste from the bittersweet nature of the grapefruit sorbet.

Some people have said this dessert alone is worth coming to the restaurant. The Grapefruit Givré is now permanently available for both lunch and dinner.

Turkish Delight served with Moroccan mint tea
We still have a most unusual petit four of "Turkish Delight" served with freshly made Moroccan mint tea (not pictured). Mint tea is customarily served after every meal in Morocco.

From front to back, the sweet treats are:
Baklava from Greece - layers of phyllo pastry over mixture of green pistachios soaked with thick syrup. It's sweet, yes, but thankfully not tooth-achingly so, like some baklava tends to be.

Torrone from Italy - nougat with roasted hazelnut. My favourite of the lot.

Panforte di Sienna, also Italian - dark chocolate paste with roasted almonds, ginger, orange peel, lemon peel confit, cinnamon and black pepper. Spicy and citrusy chocolate is not my thing, but this seems a hit with others.

Our table had a bit of fun with our petit four
Well, given the high spirits all round, our table had a bit of fun with our dessert platter. A miniature of the Marina Bay Sands iconic hotel.

The champagne and wines served for lunch
The champagne and wines served for lunch for suitably light.
MV Pierre Paillard, Bouzy Grand Cru, Cuvée Daniel
2007 Château la Rouviere, Rosé, Bandol
2007 Bodegas Naia, Naiades, Rueda
2007 Querciabella, Chianti Classico, Tuscany

The sommeliers are very well-versed in their wines, and will be able to suggest pairings for the new dishes. Service here is also nothing short of stellar.

Chef Daniel Boulud explaining the new Mediterranean dishes
While his bistro has settled down well in MBS, Boulud will still be making more frequent visits to Singapore. His close connections to Ferrari means he'll be back for F1. Plus, his own daughter has moved here. He joked that she would not learn cooking from him, but got someone to teach her how to make curry here.

It's certainly great news for us that the superchef will be back more regularly. The new selections are exquisite, and almost like a Mediterranean holiday for the tastebuds. I wonder if he will someday be inspired enough about Southeast-Asian food to create a new dining concept.

db Bistro Moderne at Marina Bay Sands
I hope you enjoyed the tour of lunch. We are already making plans to come back. Check out also Justin's and Philip's take on the same experience.

(Marina Bay Sands website, with menus)
10 Bayfront Ave
Galleria level #B1-60 Marina Bay Sands
Singapore 018956
Tel: +65 6688-8525

Open daily
Lunch: 12PM TO 2:30PM
Dinner: 5:30PM TO 10PM

Tuesday to Friday
Lunch: 12PM TO 2:30PM
Dinner: 5:30PM TO 10:30PM

Brunch: 11AM TO 2:30PM
Dinner: 5:30PM TO 10:30PM

Brunch: 11AM TO 2:30PM
Dinner: 5:30PM TO 10PM

Thank you, Marina Bay Sands, for the invitation, and thank you, Daniel Boulud and team, for the stunning lunch.


  1. Reading this post at this hour doesn't help my growling tummy! Can't wait to order the Daurade and I'm literally 'eating' off the picture now ;p Let's meet up soon with the rest, can't wait to see you girls!

  2. Yes, you busy woman! Have you won Miss World yet? Let's meet up soon! :)

  3. ooo, the meal looks stunning indeed. you are one lucky lady =)

  4. Looking at these pictures I have to admit that food preparing is an art.Everything is great!

    Cheap Holidays

  5. Hi! Is this a set lunch or were the items ordered from the Ala-Cart menu? What's the price roughly?

  6. Thanks, all.

    Anonymous: this is not a set lunch. Most items are a la carte. You can view the full menus with prices on their website (see above). Everything is below $50.

  7. Forgot to add that these new Mediterranean items will not be available all at once. They will be introduced slowly over the months, as mentioned above. The Daurade and Grapefruit are currently on the menu.

  8. I recently had the pleasure of dining at Boulud Sud and Epicerie Boulud. The food was absolutely delicious of both locations and from what I understand, that's exactly what you can expect from any venture involving Daniel Boulud.

  9. And since Phillip also recommend, I went to try the Burgers there *burp* Quite stuff, though I wished it went easier on our wallets. haha.


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