One of the less glamorous but undeniable pleasures of eating I discovered early on was the sensation of stuffing one’s mouth full of food. My mother was a fan of one-pot cooking, and all those curries and soups and stews, allowed to simmer contentedly on the stovetop as the flavors melded, lent themselves to jowl-cramming. As a consequence, texture never factored much into my early culinary explorations: anything that required too much chewing was out, anything that crisped or flaked or crackled was alien.
Many years later, my tastes have matured beyond baby-food tendencies, and in good time, too, since the night of my long-anticipated reservation at Restaurant André, I found myself nursing a cold.
Chef André has an “octaphilosophy” of food to which he adheres when constructing his menus. There are the predictably abstract ones, like “south” and “artisan,” and the curiously specific, like “salt.” Then there is texture.
Texture was the name for a white truffle risotto made, cheekily, with neither white truffles nor rice, but, really, it pervaded everything: a layered baton of miso and wild flowers, charred bread, Camembert that floated on the tongue.
At fine dining restaurants, I try to resist my reflexive urge to wolf everything down, but at Restaurant André, it was an imperative. Nothing slows a meal down quite as effectively as nasal congestion. Between vigorous puffs of the nose to reinvigorate my olfactory system, what I tasted was sublime, but at times throughout dinner, all I could rely on was texture. And so every bite was done deliberately.
Never was a crunch so poignant. Never was a melt so satisfying.
Though in theory a dinner at Restaurant André consists of eight courses, each reflecting a tenet of his “octaphilosophy” of cooking, the entire meal, including the generous number of hors d’oeuvres and desserts, easily becomes a four-hour extravaganza. The three-story heritage building, painted in stark white, is a temple to Chef André’s cuisine, which pairs classic French technique with surprising flavor combinations like Jerusalem artichoke and oyster, or matcha and shiso. Dishes change seasonally, but one mainstay is “memory”: a foie gras jelly topped with truffle coulis that was the first dish Chef André invented and that has remained a permanent fixture on the menu. Book at least a couple weeks ahead; seats are hard to snag at one of Singapore’s most celebrated restaurants.
41 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Singapore
Tue-Sun: 19:00-23:00 (lunch Wed, Fri only: 12:00-15:00)
Around 412 SGD per person (excluding wine)