3 modern European restaurants in Singapore

3 modern European restaurants in Singapore

Judging by the packed tables at La Barca, Keystone and The Garden of Eden, modern European cuisine is Singapore’s flavor of the month

With some of the world’s best restaurants such as Noma basking in the glory of sustainable dining, one would think that modern European cuisine is passé.

But not in Singapore; judging by the packed tables at stalwarts Restaurant Andre and Iggy’s, and the clutch of new-to-the-scene modern European restaurants – some, more progressive than others debuting in our now-crowded dining scene.

But, what is modern European cuisine?

“It is taking a classically European dish and transforming it on the plate based on the chef’s contemporary interpretation,” says Mark Richards, chef de cuisine of Keystone. “This may require using modern cooking techniques such as sous vide or melding different flavors -- or even types of cuisine -- into one dish.”

But Michele Sorrentino of La Barca begs to differ.

“In my opinion, modern European must stay true to the tradition and heritage, while keeping the cuisine fresh and creative,” says Sorrentino. “There is a minority trend towards more extreme innovation, but that is everything to do with the expression of one individual.”

1. Keystone Restaurant

What a mouthful! Behind the scenes: Owner, Eddie Han, may be of Australian-Chinese decent but in conjunction with Chef Mark Richards, who has held kitchen stints at Momo’s in Melbourne and Ember in Singapore, they have bold intentions for Keystone Restaurant at Stanley Street.

What to expect: “Our take on it would be the plating and the methods of cooking we use,” says Richards.

From the affordable eight-course dinner tasting menu (S$118++ per head), expect progressive creations like foam of Kagoshima white corn macchiato paired with chilled Alaskan king crab salad and a wedge of foie gras jam; and five-spice soup with shredded duck served with a playful tofu-stuffed syringe for squirting out noodles.

For Richards, the Jamon iberico with toffee figs, melon gel, reblochon cheese and passion fruit sorbet best personifies Keystone’s cuisine.

“I love the saltiness of the cheese, the sweetness of the figs and citrusy sour flavor of the passion fruit sorbet. This is more than your regular modern interpretation of classical dishes, with elements of different textures.”

11 Stanley St.; +65 6221 0046

2. The Garden of Eden

The Garden of Eden's progressive Jelly n' Ice Cream dessert. Behind the scenes: Despite the chef proprietor’s part British, part Indian heritage, the cuisine at the 38-seat Garden of Eden is decidedly European.

What to expect: “My cuisine is progressive,” says chef Ross Watson, “I use old-school influences and modern techniques to recreate dishes inspired by memories.”

One of Ross-Watson’s earliest memories is a piping hot McDonald's apple pie he bit into and carelessly broke as a child and this has been recreated in the dish of pork belly served with broken apple compote -- much like the broken apple pie -- on a bed of spinach with crisp sprigs of sage leaves.

Another dish that shows Ross-Watson’s whimsical take is the dessert of jelly and ice, chocolate mousse instantly freeze-dried in liquid nitrogen by your table and served on a canvas of red raspberry gel, pristine white thickened coconut cream, brown chocolate sponges and red bits of sizzling popping candies.

148 Neil Road; +65 6222 2119

3. La Barca

La Barca's contemporary yet hearty turbot. Behind the scenes: Michele Sorrentino sold his one-Michelin star restaurant in Sienna, Italy, Antica Trattoria Botteganova, in 2009 and now, he’s teamed up with Christopher Tung, a former Wall Street banker-turned-restaurateur, to open La Barca, a modern Italian restaurant tucked away in a hidden corner of Goodman Arts Centre.

What to expect: “What makes my cuisine modern is that it is innovative and light -- I use very little butter, cream and cheese,” explains Sorrentino.

“More importantly, it is deeply rooted in Italian culinary tradition.”

A strikingly contemporary yet hearty creation is the pesto marinated tuna with cannellini bean cream. “The tuna dish uses all Italian flavors but the idea of serving it raw has its roots from Japan while marinating it in pesto is inspired by the ceviche tradition of Central and South America,” says Sorrentino.

Sorrentino’s ravioli dish is a twist on an old favorite, the classic butter sauce has been replaced with a rich and savory sauce made entirely with potatoes and leek. The best route to sampling what La Barca has to offer is to pick the tasting menu (four courses for S$90 and six courses for S$120), which will be launched in the coming weeks.

Block C, Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, +65 6346 5813; www.labarca-sg.com

Evelyn Chen traded her frequent flyer miles from her jet-setting corporate days for a critic's pen, and has been eating and drinking on the job ever since. She is a former Time Out food critic and current editor of Zagat Guide; her food and travel features have published in Destin Asian, Travel + Leisure SEA and Conde Nast Traveller. For a collection of her gourmet jaunts, visit www.bibikgourmand.com.

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