Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A French Menu At The Top Table

Before the season closes at The Top Table of The Culinary Institute of America Singapore (CIA), we bravely returned to taste its French menu at lunch. I'm not hot about traditional French cuisine in general, no matter how many Michelin stars a restaurant has, but I'll attempt this batch's cooking to support the students.

The table could go crazy over whatever they want, but I picked the safest items on the menu. It's can't go wrong with tartare de saumon prepared tableside. Even sipped a little of the friends' consommé royale. Clear chicken soup lah. Very chicken-ny. :P The friends declared the shrimp cake with pickled celery and remouladé, the day's selections of charcuterie and sautéed frogs' legs and all fine.

We liked the côtelettes d'agneaugrilled lamb chops that came with potato gratin and braised endive that we ordered seconds. The confit de canard was more than edible. The crisp salt-cured duck leg was nicely done and not tough like rubber. It wasn't as salty as I expected. Accompanied by parsnip purée and Puy lentils, the dish delivered exactly what was expected.

The one disappointing dish was the sole en papillote. It was terrible and we couldn't finish it. I had no idea what kind of sole it was supposed to be. Overcooked was one thing, but the fillet itself was kinda stinky and over-salted. Imagine if I had let them pour the tarragon beurre blanc over it, I might as well eat a slab of butter with a mouthful of salt.

Said delicious grilled mackerel.

Thank goodness the special of the day that came as another fish of grilled mackerel with cous cous redeemed the fish station. Hahaha. It was an Indian mackerel; totally a kembung! They grilled it perfectly with curry powder, which was clever. Went really well. Plus the fish was clearly fresh. It wasn't the least over-salted. We loved it.

And the table made it to dessert and petit fours. That strawberry basil sorbet was interesting. I passed on the macarons, sponge squares and crème brûlée. My dessert was a hot cup of coffee, and I gingerly sipped a green tea (West Lake Dragon's Well, 西湖龙井) because the students decided to source the teas from a Chinese tea shop and put them on the menu.

That's it for us sampling the food this season at The Top Table. There's another internship on the horizon for the students before they graduate. Thanks for the earnest service and thoughtful menus, and good luck to all would-be graduands stepping into the culinary world over the next year and a half. I'd love to taste the food that comes out of your kitchen then.

Seen on one of the walls at the CIA campus.

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