The Kitchen at Bacchanalia received a 1-star nod from the Michelin inspectors for the inaugural 2016 Michelin Guide Singapore. And well-deserved, might I add!
Reminding me of similar 1-starred restaurants in cities like San Francisco, The Kitchen at Bacchanalia has an edgy vibe, thanks to the open kitchen and all its accompanying culinary energy placed right upfront at the entrance to the restaurant.
Also, the young staff are enthusiastic and happily present details of the intricate dishes in front of you.
Chef Ivan Brehm says that The Kitchen at Bacchanalia is inspired by his travels and you can definitely see whispers of that in the dishes – spices from India and the Middle East sit alongside Southeast Asian flavours of lemongrass and coconut and dishes prepared with European flair.
There are 2 options for dinner – 5-course at $125 and 7-course at $165.
Bread starts you off and it’s not your regular bread basket. Bread from Do.Main (a bakery at Tanjong Katong) from World Gourmet Summit 2016 Pastry Chef of the Year, Frederic Deshayes, is accompanied not by butter, but by a “deconstructed” polenta instead.
Break that bread and dunk it into the creamy cornmeal and pine nut puree and make sure to get some swirls of basil oil. I haven’t had this kind of accompaniment to bread, and it was good.
They give you a shot glass of steam-extracted vegetable broth, made out of 7 vegetables. I started playing the guessing game, naturally, and the chef gamely played along with me.
That’s the thing about this place – unlike other fine dining establishments where even if the chefs come out to explain the dish, they steamroll past it and then run off, and you’re left playing another guessing game. But at The Kitchen by Bacchanalia, you don’t feel rushed to understand what you’re eating.
That’s good for annoying food writers like myself who ask a million questions.
A couple of amuse-bouche appear before dinner. I loved the sweetness of the Banana Flower in Black Kalamata olive oil, topped with shavings of truffle.
So you know how when something is good, you don’t have to add any superlatives to expand on the point? Similarly, the 1st dish, simply described as Carrots with Hummus, Dukkah and Cream Cheese, sounds plain but you know there will be more than meets the eye.
And indeed, it was excellent. The dukkah spice mix, the various textures of carrot (my favourite was the light-as-air carrot sponge, with the rather Indian “kesari”-like carrot jam a close second) and the cardamom-spiced custard and hummus all sang together in an orange-hued harmony.
From then, we moved on to Italian-Thai, courtesy of the Coconut Risotto. Punchy lemongrass, kaffir lime, galangal and coconut flavours make you feel like you’re having a thai porridge of sorts. But with firm Italian rice, perfectly al dente.
For a supplement of $8, you can choose the Uni and Chocolate Pasta as your 3rd course. Did you say chocolate and uni? How could I resist?
Well, the uni was definitely fresh and its strong seafood flavour nicely matches the creamy, light flavour of the white bean and white chocolate sauce. As for the chocolate pasta, well, certainly they weren’t going to give me strands of actual chocolate, right? I mean, top marks if they had, but that’s just chocoholic me.
The other option is a refreshing Hamachi on Toast. Loved the addition of pomelo and guava bits to the hamachi, that sat on two types of rice – crispy rice and Japanese rice. Eat it all in one bite with the spinach-y tasting sorrel puree and you have a perfect blend of flavours and textures again.
I chose the Lamb for main. It was served with its best friend, the mint sauce and a smoky, charred eggplant sauce. Together with crunchy mung beans and compressed cool cucumber to add texture to the tender lamb, this was a most pleasurable dish.
A Kibbeh accompanies the lamb – basically, a minced lamb tartare “roll” on a chapatti-like bread. I think raw meat fans will like this side.
Hubby chose the Iberico Pork Loin and said it was just amazing. If you closed your eyes, you wouldn’t think you were eating pork. It was just-cooked (quite under) and so, was really tender, and passable for a meaty fish, even.
The dandelion puree that it came with was just slightly bitter, as it should be, but there were some crispy tarhana praline made of fermented yoghurt that added a tangy sensation to the dish.
A couple of pre-desserts are served before your actual dessert.
We both thought the dessert was the only unexciting aspect of the meal. Only because after all the interesting and punchy flavours that we had tried, the Black Sesame Cake tasted only marginally of sesame – too faint for us. But the pink guava sorbet it came with? Delish!
For the 5-course, there’s wine pairing at $75 each, but we chose to share a bottle of this beautiful Italian red ($85) that matched all the dishes perfectly.
Some of the items mentioned are also part of the lunch set at $48 for a 3-course.
The Kitchen at Bacchanalia is one Michelin-starred restaurant in Singapore that I would gladly visit again!
The Kitchen at Bacchanalia:
Address: 39 Hongkong Street (S) 059678
Contact: 9179 4552
Lunch: Tue to Fri, 12pm to 2:30pm
Dinner: Mon to Sat, 6pm to 10:30pm