As one of the earliest fine dining establishments, Balthazar's is one of the famous landmarks along the Esplanade Road other than Grand Palace Restaurant. For me, this was my birthday dinner venue with my sis :)! Walking in, the atmosphere here clearly portrays the dining style of the restaurant which is casual fine dining. It felt relaxed, no fake suits or overdressed individuals which is pretty good considering we were in the CBD. At the bar counter, the mixologist churns out drinks at a never-ending pace. I pity him but he seems to enjoy his job a lot!
Hard at work.
The bread counter was not in the kitchen but rather one a little kiosk just by the table which my sister and I sat at. Wonder how they keep the bread nice.
Looking through the appetizers, there are two ways one can start their evening. First, by sharing small plates. and the other, by ordering individual appetizers. Deciding on which to pick was not difficult as the individual appetizers felt too similar to the mains.
My sister decided to start with the freshly shucked oysters topped with smoked tomato caviar.
While I declined her invitation to share, I felt like there was a lot of technique in preparing the smoked tomato caviar. Felt somewhat like the fabled El Buli restaurant in Spain where they had the Apple Caviar. More importantly, my sister felt that the oysters were really fresh and the overall chemistry suited her palette well. Win!
While she enjoyed her oysters, I decided to try the Swordfish belly coated with sesame served with garlic, miso and black pudding!
It is my first time having black pudding and it was superb! Very fragrant and the intensity of the spices were spectacular! Miso complemented the fish well but I felt that the sesame coating of the swordfish belly was a little oily. Nonetheless, it was yummy! If had any complains besides the oil, it had the be that the use of the fish belly did not really shine through the dish. Just a fancy disposition for me.
Next were the wanton skins, feta and celery mousse.
Served upside down, this little cornets had my hopes high as I had something very similar at Jackson’s a few years back. But this was unlike that. Its filling of feta and celery mousse was nice, but the wanton skins were lacking a very essential crisp!
Our last sharing plate was possibly the best thing that night. The spiced lamb ribs served with a hint of mint and lime.
These were every bit delectable. The meat was absolutely tender with a falling of the bone characteristic. It was slightly gamey but even my sister who was a fussy eater did not have problems with it. This was just so good! Would definitely return just for this one.
Before our mains came out, we were served complementary palate cleansers that was nice too! It was a lychee sorbet as far as I can remember :)!
Sister’s beef fillet, four mushrooms, smoked potato, herb butter and black garlic. Depending on your focus point of the dish, you would easily have different verdicts on how this dish fared. For me, every bit felt perfectly executed except where it counts the most. Meaning, all the sides were good. The mushrooms, the black garlic, the smoked potato. All except the beef. It still had those muscle bists around the fillet making it difficult to eat. More importantly, it did not have in itself the tenderness I was expecting! *emo*!
For me, I had the pork fillet, jamon, mash, scallops, crackle and black pudding! For me I was happy with this dish for most parts. The pork fillet was moist while the berries had just the right amount of sweetness that fared well with the saltiness of the jamon. Mash was delicious and the scallops were cooked spot on. All of these though, felt a little salty when the black pudding was added to the equation. Lastly, the crackling was OK but hmmm.. not the roast pork crackling that I was hoping to see. In the end, it was more of a textural component but with little flavor! As mentioned before, this was nice but could have been better!
At this point, we were pretty filled. In fact, the sharing plates already made us very full. But with one last effort, my sister and I shared a dessert!
This was one complicated dish. Coconut panna cotta, basil sorbet, sesame tuile and peanut mousse. For me, this dessert clearly screams Thai. But perhaps a little more effort is required to make all the components complement each other. At this point, my sister and I agreed that while each element is flawless, the dish as a whole was no more than a lost puppy.
The night for me went pretty well. I enjoyed the food quite a fair bit. But considering this was one of the best places to fine dine in the state, perhaps I expected a little more. Not that this was not good, but out of all the dishes we had that night, the ones that will live in my memory are just too few. In fact, the lamb was the only memorable dish. At the end, the bill for two settled somewhere in the mid 100s including drinks.