Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Saveur - Savouring the Familiar Flavours

Saveur is a franchise in Singapore that offers casual French fare. Seeing I have been indulging Papa Chan on all kinds of Asian delights during his week-long visit, Saveur would be a nice change of palate, in an environment where he wouldn't feel inadequate in his shorts and baseball cap.

By casual I mean it's bordering fast food. We walked in to a bustling restaurant and were led to a table with nothing on it. A server then brought us a small clipboard with the menu tabulated on multiple sheets; just like how you'd tick a dim sum sheet, only replacing dumplings with pan-seated foie gras! Regardless of the ambience, or the lack of, Saveur is has earned recognition for down to earth and solid cooking, so I went through their signature dishes.

Mushroom Soup 
The soup was served like a cappuccino. The soup was surprisingly thick and creamy under the layer of fungi foam, bursting with mushroom fragrance; the small bits of mushroom gave it a bit of bouncy chew. The airy foam was a good contrast to slightly lift the velvety veloute; the seemingly small portion was quite filling.

Saveur's Pasta chilli oil, finely chopped konbu, minced pork sauce, chives & sakura ebi
This simple pasta dish was a pleasant surprise. At first I thought it looked dry and lacking, but the capellini was drizzled with a thin coat of porky jus, lightly seasoned with a very mild chilli tone; just enough kick to leave a modest tinkle on the tongue. The flavours were clean and light; the tiny crispy dried sakura shrimps were like concentrated flavour bombs to give it the fishy edge. 

If I’m crazily picky I would say the pasta could have been better. It wasn’t quite al-dente, perhaps a tad overcooked.

Duck Confit mashed potato, saute shiitake with parsley & garlic
I guess it doesn't get more French bistro than duck leg confit, and it's something that while it can't go wrong, there is seldom any pleasant surprises. The kitchen delivered in terms of not screwing up something that's impossible to screw up. Nothing was worth mentioning in particular.

Pork Belly Cannellini beans with pancetta & natural jus
While I have risk accepted that pork belly is not the healthiest choice of meat, I wasn’t quite expecting the pork belly to be a solid block of lard. There is no exaggeration when I say there was only 10% muscle – had to send it back. Our server wasn’t too convinced when I explained it’s not edible, but then again she didn’t volunteer either. And I always try to be pleasant until my last course is served.

Our second attempt was much better; at least 55% muscle and I settled for that. The problem of obesity aside, the blocks of pork belly were soft and squidgy; the fatty layers were dangerously fragrant; the gelatinous skin was playfully bouncy and the lean meats were meagre but tender and juicy. It was lightly seasoned to allow the porky flavours to come through. The honey mustard on the side was a good complement to the belly, but wasn't a fan of the grainy and mushy beans that made the dish even heavier.

Personally I would prefer a crispier skin or more seared edges to force more grease out, adding more textures and to alleviate the groggy weight of the lard. 

Salted Caramel Lava Cake Maldon sea salt, Valrhona Dulcey chocolate & homemade vanilla ice cream
The warm lava cake was very well done. Hot salted caramel came gushing out of the thin cake shell as I broke into it, a beautiful contrast to the smooth ice cream.

Generally we enjoyed Saveur. We liked the no-fuss attitude and solid delivery. Dishes were presented in a Singaporean efficient manner, exactly what it says on the tin, well, or menu. On the flip side, other than the lack of surprises, it was missing sophistication, the thoughtful structuring of creations. But come on, I got what I paid for, and it did well to satisfy my craving for some solid French classics. Can't complain.

Saveur @ Far East Plaza
14 Scotts Road
#01-7B 228213
Tel: 6736 1121

You may also like: PS Cafe, Meat SmithFYR Cycene Ond Drinc

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