Review of the 33rd SFCSS Event (Au Jardin Les Amis)
by Tan Sui-Lin
It was as close to The Perfect Lunch as anyone could get. The fortunate 45 who attended the 33rd SSFCS lunch function were pampered to the hilt by the excellent food and service in the unique ambiance of Au Jardin. This little jewel of a restaurant, one of the 3 fine dining establishments operated by the Les Amis group, is nestled amidst the lush tropical vegetation of the Botanical Gardens and is housed in the charming colonial-era bungalow which was the former residence of the curator of the Gardens.
Our leisurely â€œlunch in the countryâ€ unfolded with an aperitif of Cremant dâ€™Alsace with delightfully balanced sparkling qualities, refreshing without the frequently encountered sharpness of a brut champagne. Lunch proper was served in the upstairs dining area, an oasis of cool in the tropical heat, and began with a shot glass of creamy custard with a hint of corn.
A magnificent terrine of foie gras, veal sweetbreads and girolles followed. The smooth savoury lobes of liver, punctuated by pieces of magret and slightly chewy peppery sweetbreads formed a contrasting but complementary mix of textures. Points of acidity came in the form of artfully arranged tiny cubes of gelatine. The accompanying Josemeyer Pinot Auxerrois was just right too, rich but not cloying and leaving the palate clean.
The prawn cappucino which came next was a less successful combination of flavours although the prawns had been cooked to exactly the right degree. The marine taste of the prawns did not quite come together with the earthy flavours of the mushroom flakes and cream.
The following course was essentially lamb and mash potatoes but so well executed that it was worlds apart in spirit and substance from the old institutional standby. The strip of roasted lamb fillet cut open to reveal a rose-pink interior and the meat fat and sinew of the lamb shoulder was transformed into a meltingly tender slice of bliss.
Dessert was a classic pairing of chocolate and orange but with a temperature twist- the barely baked chocolate cake with a molten interior presented in a demitasse with a spoonful of orange sorbet.
The feeling at my table was unanimous – this had to be the best Slow Food event ever. The wines had been excellent without exception and Les Amis had emerged from the rigours of catering to Slow Foodies with its reputation for excellent dining firmly intact.