Origami flowers are not what we’d expect in a fine dining place, but here they are, sitting inside a bell jar in Preludio’s muted dining room. They’re not colourful like those you’d find in Japanese handicraft shops — these ones are black and white, or Monochrome: the current chapter in the restaurant’s book.
The idea is fairly abstract even by haute cuisine standards, and the only rule is that the dishes are all monochrome in colour (can you imagine blackened steak?) Otherwise, Chef-owner Fernando Arevalo gives himself complete freedom to interpret the theme in his own way. Does it rewrites the perimeters of fine dining? Perhaps in terms of presentation and gastronomy, but even if you don’t buy into the sentimentalism, his food is still really good.
The new Summer menu is the fourth iteration of Preludio’s offerings since it opened in December last year, and we’re just as impressed as the last time. A four-course lunch at the Frasers Tower restaurant goes for S$58, and those with more time can opt for a seven-course Chef’s Selection (S$98). Dinner is either S$188 for six-course or S$238 for eight.
We don’t receive a menu of what we’re tasting until the end of the meal, and Fernando tells us it’s so we enjoy every aspect of the meal without preconceived notions. Not much of a surprise for you anymore, though. Snacks include a chicken liver parfait with cherry jam and black summer truffle shavings, and a flattened blue prawn that reminds us of chee cheong fun, in a good way.
There are some favourites from the old menu. The La Cortina might have been the subject of many salacious dreams: amaretto-infused butternut squash agnolotti with parmesan sauce and tantalisingly syrup 25-year-old balsamic vinegar that pulls the dish together. Or the memorable Pata Negra, putting the spotlight on Iberico pork shoulder that’s been dry-rubbed with cumin and cayenne for spiciness and coated with squid ink bread crumbs. The rich acidity from Datterini tomatoes balances out the pork’s fattiness.
Surprises are abound in the new creations like Make It Pop, a refreshing take on the classic interplay of savoury, sweet, and sour notes in a foie gras dish. I, for one, think Pop Rocks have no place in fine dining or even cocktails, but everything else was delightful. Foie gras terrine is glazed with coffee kombucha and topped with passionfruit spheres and smoked olive oil powder that add complexity. Fernando also adds a drizzle of local mead from Rachelle The Rabbit for smoothing sweetness.
The evening’s favourite is the Deadliest Catch, an attractive potpourri of prized Alaskan King Crab meat accentuated with chargrilled piquillo peppers, avocado mousse, coconut jelly, and corn sorbet. It sounds haphazard, but boy do the ingredients sing together brilliantly. There’s also Nantucket Sound, which showcases one of the finest bay scallops in the world from Boston. The sweet, mild flesh is amped up by the sticky tanginess of black garlic and a bit of salted corn cream.
For dessert, we get a play on the childhood flavours of Pastry Chef Perez de Carrasco, who’s created a pretty Strawberry Milkshake with layers of white chocolate and yoghurt powder sandwiching genoise sponge, vanilla mousseline, strawberry ganache, and strawberry jam. She adds on milk ice cream and a sprinkling of mille feuille — it looks too pleasing too eat, but we do so happily.
On the drinks side of things, Preludio’s bar manager Chip Steel does a very good non-alcoholic mocktail pairing with Seedlip. He also has access to beautiful wines like the Domaine de Bargylus Grand Vin de Syrie 2012 with its excellent acidity and gentle smokiness or the Kukuhime Yamahai Junmai Namazake 2015 with rustic notes of mushroom and black garlic. There’s no question about it, this is one of the most interesting restaurants of the year.
Preludio is located at 182 Cecil St, #03-01/02 Frasers Tower, Singapore 069547. Open Mon-Fri 11.30am – 2.30pm, 6pm – 10pm, Sat 6pm – 10pm, Closed Sun.