My previous visit to Bacchanalia was when they were still located at the historical Masonic Hall on Coleman Street under another head chef. It was timely that we could visit them at the Hong Kong Street premise during their Four Hands Collaboration Dinner with Chef Luke Armstrong and Chef Curtis Duffy from Grace based in Chicago, USA. Grace together with Alinea would be the 2 restaurants which I would visit if I had the chance to travel to Chicago.
It was apparent that since Singapore published our own Michelin Guide, there had been an explosion in number of collaboration dinners here. Bringing creations from other Michelin-starred Chefs right to our shore. However depending on the set-up and ambience of the host restaurant, dining at these collab dinners certainly cannot replicate the exact experience compared to having the opportunity to dine at the actual place. Nonetheless it is a chance for us to evaluate whether we would pay a visit to the Chef’s home ground in future.
For our dinner we started with appetizers of Beef tartare with mushroom and Chilli crab with urchin. While the beef tartare dish was simple and straight to the point, I was puzzled by the chilli crab with urchin item. Where was it? Turned out that hidden in the tiny crispy puff was a cream-like filling which tasted of tints of chilli crab flavours and urchin umami. That was Chef Curtis‘s attempt at incorporating local flavours into his dishes.
We were also served a refreshing Gazpacho consommé with olive oil before we commenced our first course by Chef Curtis King Crab butternut squash, tapioca, papaya, Vietnamese mint. The julienned root vegetables were pickled and had strong resemblance of typical Vietnamese cuisine. The slightly tart salad paired well with the rather tiny but fresh piece of crab meat.
The second course is by Chef Armstrong and was my favourite and I ranked it as the best dish of Chef Armstrong. I would return to Bacchanalia for this dish! Foie gras Kyoho grapes, Apple, Almonds with brioche toast. The golden brown toast was crispy on the outside and airy on the inside. The magical moment happens when I paired the aromatic toast with the creamy foie gras and juicy slices of sweet kyoho grapes.
Chef Curtis‘s course was up next with Scallop Nasturtium Blooms, Sesame Milk. The scallop was said to be hand-dived and I felt that it tasted slightly cured when served.
Chef Armstrong served the next dish Turbot Spicy tomato Compote, Herbs, Fino Sauce to guests personally. He further explained that the turbot was line caught which I suppose highlighted the restaurant’s value of choosing sustainable food sources? This dish was also superbly executed with the perfectly cooked firm flesh. The spicy tomato compote was something rather interesting and it’s the first time I ever saw it. The peppery, sweet and sour components helped accentuate the mild flavoured fish.
Just when we thought that Chef Armstrong seemed to have an upper hand in this collab dinner, Chef Curtis last course blew us away! Beef Dill, Dates was undoubtedly the star dish. I understand that this dish was also served during the Michelin Guide Singapore Star Event.
The Miyazaki beef had an aromatic nice brown crust on the outside but still pink in the centre. The texture was amazing! I wished they could be slightly more generous on the portion. I alternated between the sweet dates puree and the pickled vegetables as I chewed on the precious beef cubes. This was the dish that truly left an impression in me.
Prior to desserts, we were served a small cup of fragrant musk melon juice with coconut mini melts. The beautiful dessert of Pistachio Caramalised white chocolate, lime and raspberry was prepared by Chef Armstrong. Sitting around the parfait were wild strawberry, white chocolate, raspberry, lime and green tea.
There were even petite fours to end our meal: Dark chocolate with whiskey orange and gold flakes and White chocolate curry mango. The latter sounded pretty exotic to me, a combination which worked out pretty well as the curry was not too strong, mainly tasted the mango.
As we walked past the open kitchen to exit the restaurant, we received a firm handshake from Chef Armstrong thanking us for the visit while Chef Curtis was behind the counter busy with his dishes.
I am glad Bacchanalia hosted this collab dinner which allowed me to re-visit them under the helm of Chef Armstrong while having the rare opportunity to taste Chef Curtis‘s cuisines. *I’m not even sure if we could secure a seat at Grace even if I get to travel to Chicago.
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