This is a tricky review since Les Amis caused much debate between Charlie and I. The restaurant is an institution in Singapore. Having arrived in 1994, it has long held its position on Asia’s best restaurant list & just this year was awarded 2 Michelin Stars. As a result, we had enormous expectations & in my opinion 2 Stars should leave any diner with long-lasting food memories & things to wax lyrical about. Sadly, we were left with neither. It did deliver fabulous food at times, extraordinary service, a wine list like no other & a slick interior but very little on the memories front.
Les Amis holds a prime location at the base of the Shaw Centre tucked away from the busy main drag of the Orchard Road. It is a large, meandering & beautiful restaurant. The staff were wonderful all night, greeting us with big smiles & an informality that I like but you don’t always get in posh restaurants. They were consistently attentive & well drilled so everything operated smoothly.
We chose Le Menu Classique which is their 5 course tasting menu & the smallest of all the choices. The portions were generous & once all of the treats, amuse-bouche, palette cleansers, petit-fours & everything else that seems to be the norm now [good thing!] had been enjoyed there was no danger of walking away hungry. Alongside menu choice, the other decision to be made is wine. Once the giant list is delivered by 4 strong waiters & placed on a reinforced side-table you can start to navigate its depth & complexity. They proudly told us it is one of the world’s finest & if size alone is a measure, then I’d have to agree. Fortunately it does have a good spread of wines including some which are relatively accessible, so we were able to admire then swiftly side step the out-right shockers that would require a lottery winning ticket to even nose. The sommelier was excellent & we ended up with a beautiful White Burgundy.
We kicked off with some tasters that included delicious sardine rillettes, comte cheese wrapped in air-dried beef & the highlight, which was a delicate Mediterranean tart with a light olive cake. With the exception of the [rather boring] Comte cheese, they were a strong start. What followed was a real weak point. The amuse-bouche was a set mushroom voloute that was tepid & with a watery, separated texture. To be honest it was unpleasant but fortunately small in size. We then went into the menu itself, which bizarrely started with more mushrooms. It was a delicious mushroom tart holding 5 different types of funghi & a soft egg yolk that delivered a rich sauce. It was a great starter but mushroom-mushroom is a bit much & seemed a poor decision in the menu planning.
The first fish dish was Charlie’s highlight. One generous chunk of langoustine in a raviolo, served in a light parmesan broth with caviar and white truffle. Beautifully executed & well balanced. This was then followed by my favourite dish of the evening. Perfectly cooked sea bass on the tastiest little baby leeks imaginable, all sitting in a creamy, champagne sauce. It was absolutely delicious & every dot of sauce was mopped up by the frequently replenished & gorgeous selection of breads.
Then came what I believe should always be the highlight of any restaurant. The main course, which was a choice of either braised beef chuck or pork belly. We both went for the beef & how disappointing it was. It arrived grandly under a silver cloche & was an underwhelming cube of beef sitting on a thin brioche toast, little baby confit onions & a beef jus. The meat itself was overwhelmingly gelatinous & the sauce so heavily reduced it was potent. There was little to cut the fatty richness & for a 2 Star restaurant I thought it was a very, very poor main course. Perhaps the pork belly was the smarter choice, but we’ll never know.
Finally, the pudding. This was also underwhelming. Mexican dark chocolate with a buttermilk ice cream & chocolate ganache. Forgettable & nothing exciting. Charlie is not a dark chocolate fan so they gave her a small apple tart with apple jelly & cinnamon ice cream. She had a similar reaction.
So, there were some highs in the fish courses but overall Les Amis was a disappointing experience given its sterling reputation. I would not go back or recommend it, despite its 2 stars, when there are so many restaurants in Singapore offering equally as delicious but more exciting, imaginative dishes.
Les Amis, 1 Scotts Road, 01-16 Shaw Centre, Singapore, 228208