Bacchanalia, Singapore – a true feast
Editor’s note: Bacchanalia has moved to new premises.
Greedy Girl is going to cut to the chase. OMG. She’s already plotting how to get back to Bacchanalia.
Housed in an old Freemasons building not far from Singapore’s City Hall and St Andrew’s Cathedral, the first impression of the restaurant is a little confronting. It’s dark and moody inside and the vibe is that you’ve stepped into a night club. Disco lights, red velvet armchairs, a long bar taking up the far wall. All that was missing was John Travolta in a three-piece white suit on the dance floor.
The tunes are pumping, but on a quietish Monday night it’s still possible to chat. Greedy Girl imagines it could be a very fun venue on a weekend to eat, drink and be very merry.
But we were here for the food, created by Brazilian expat Ivan Brehm who has an extremely impressive CV. Fat Duck, Per Se, Spain’s Mugaritz – all restaurants that have been jostling at the top of the world rankings. The dishes are designed to be shared and that’s right up Greedy Girl and gluttonous husband’s alley. We ordered four plates and a glass of Aix rose from Provence and settled back.
Greedy Girl was captivated by one dish in particular – foie gras satay (pictured above). Talk about Asian fusion! She couldn’t get her head around it, but was never not going to order it. Even though it was the final dish we consumed, she has to talk about it first. OMG. It was all she could do to stop herself from face planting on the dish and gorging (well, the restaurant is called Bacchanalia, after all!). This was foie gras cooked sous vide (and finished with a blow torch, she believes) topped with a tamarind and lemongrass fluid gel and peanut satay. Finally, chestnuts are grated over the top.
This is a dish worth getting on a plane for. The combination of softness, crunch, savouriness, saltiness and sweetness has to be tasted to be believed. It’s sheer inventiveness and Greedy Girl wanted to lick the slab of slate clean. She resorted to running her index finger across it to savour every last skerrick.
Sigh. So good.
The first dish of the evening was ‘mushroom fantasia’. This was a very enjoyable combination of crumbed portobello mushrooms with a medley of other fungi, including cordyceps, shimeji and oyster mushrooms, topped with a little assortment of other slightly crunchy vegetables. It was accompanied by a corn veloute. Greedy Girl enjoyed the veloute but gluttonous husband commented he preferred to have it separately from the mushrooms.
Next, we had hand-dived Norwegian scallops. Happily, these were on the large size and cooked perfectly. They were topped with tobiko (the orange element you can see in the picture), a flying fish roe most usually seen on top of sushi. It popped in the mouth giving a lovely salty hit. Underneath were borlotti beans cooked in a seafood reduction and the dish, finally, was sprinkled with a bitter cocoa. Greedy Girl loved the way this went together but it was almost like having an extra dish if you ate the elements separately. The beans in the sauce were sublime. Another plate licker.
The last dish to describe was the wagyu beef short rib. The Tajima wagyu had been braised for 48 hours and was served with pickled radish, daikon and a parsnip puree. The leaves looked suspiciously like they’d been peeled from Brussels sprouts but, what the hell, the dish was absolutely delicious. The beef just melted away and the accompaniments were perfect.
Draining the last of the wine, Greedy Girl kept a look out for other dishes. Several items went past that caught her attention – one that looked like a toasted sandwich. This, apparently, was on the bar menu – a Wagyu beef and cheese toastie. There was also a dish of ‘umami’ fries, made with kombu. Greedy Girl is already working out when she can return.
This is a true feast and the chance to see a chef at the top of his game. It’s not an inexpensive experience – the wagyu beef dish we had was $50 but it’s an absolute treat. Go on, you deserve it.
39 Hongkong St, Singapore