Monday, May 28, 2012

Dining in Singapore - Saveur

I walked by Purvis Street just behind the legendary Raffles Hotel a few times and every time I went, I saw a long line of people waiting outside a restaurant called Saveur. Turned out this is one of the newest restaurants on the block, the one that started off as a hawker stall and found its new home at the current location just a couple months ago. Naturally with its apparent popularity, I got curious and eager to try this one out, but I gave up a few times after seeing the lines that stretched all the way to 2 shops away. 

So happened I was in the neighborhood again one early evening (6:30pm) and surprisingly I only saw a handful of people waiting - thinking that this could be my lucky day so I joined the line and 5 minutes, voila, I was in.

Saveur is famous for delivering French dishes at down-to-earth price - I suppose the trick is to rely on local ingredients, combined with solid European cooking techniques from local staff and creative dishes. Take the appetizer I ordered as an example - Pan-seared Foie Gras with Green Lentils. That set me back SGD$7.90 - yeap, that's only HK$50 or USD$6 for you non-Singapore people. Well portion is a bit small but it's cooked perfectly and very delicious. It's no gourmet foie gras from france but still soft on the inside, sweet and tasty. I couldn't think of having this dish any cheaper anywhere else. 

I ordered the duck confit for my main course. It's served on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes and with sautéed shitake mushrooms and couple slices of oranges on the side. It's a classic French bistro fare and showed they really know how to cook. Everything tasted exactly how they should taste like - I particularly appreciate the duck cooked less salty than usual and even though the mashed potatoes aren't as creamy as that of Robuchon's, it's full of butter flavor and I think it's just unfair to make such comparison. After all what Saveur targeted is still delivering kopitiam food in kopitiam prices. 

They even tried a little trick of playing with textures and tastes - their "Texture of Citrus" dessert consists of several citrus fruits cooked in different ways, and compiled into a fun dish - bits of oranges and grapefruits, blood orange jelly, grapefruit coulis and orange granita were all arranged into a deep round bowl and throw in some corn flakes for its crunchiness. That's almost like a poor man's molecular gastronomy dish! The taste was only so-so but the presentation was cute and it's a good attempt to do something different, other than the usual cake or pudding as dessert options.

Inside the restaurant there's no fancy decor - quite literally the hole in the wall type. It's small, tables were tightly arranged, and the only decoration being some Christian art and signs on the wall (apparently the owners are devoted Christians). There aren't a lot of tables - that partly explained why the long waiting lines outside. And don't expect any service in the level of a Michelin-starred restaurant - there's no napkin, no change of silverware between courses, and sometimes the dishes even arrived in the wrong order, so this won't be an ideal venue if you are planning to propose to your girlfriend. But other than that, the wait staff is responsive and helpful.

This is probably one of the best in Singapore in terms of value, with decent quality and very reasonable price. My 3-course dinner came to around SGD $30 (and no 10% service charge like other restaurants) If you are travelling on a budget and want a change from normal hawker center food, do consider paying them a visit and you will be pleasantly surprised. But either go early or prepare to wait though - no reservation allowed and from what I have observed and tasted, the long waiting lines aren't going to dissipate soon.

When? May 16 2012
Where? Saveur, 5 Purvis Street, #01-04, Singapore

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