MOVED: to Boat Quay.
It is true that the view outside Absinthe is crap, especially with construction going on next door. And Absinthe isn’t the most accessible restaurant in the world. Public Transport > car in this case. Take MRT to Outram and exit by Teo Hong Rd. You’ll see Swis Ling, walk till you come to a fork road, then take the right turn. About 5 minutes walk. If you drive, take note that the entrance of Bukit Pasoh Rd along New Bridge Rd is sealed, and under construction. Enter either by Neil Road to Bukit Pasoh or from Teo Hong where there is a carpark. Take note that parallel parking is horrible when crowded like tonight.
When I was there, cars were illegally parked outside the cul-de-sac of Absinthe, which pissed the shit out of me. What makes these people so special to park anywhere they want? I wanted to call the Traffic Police on them, but my friend, who went to Tibet recently, said, he just met Karma there who is alive and well, thank you very much.
But inside the restaurant is a different matter. Ambience: The lighting was cool, dim and calming. Classy, cozy and unpretentious. Like the other two restaurants I’d gone during Restaurant Week, I found the arrangement of tables too near to one another. Probably because the restaurants wanted to pack as many customers as possible. Understandable but nevertheless, still irritating for a misanthrope like me.
Among the three restaurants of Restaurant Week–the other two are Salt and Saint Julien–Absinthe had to be the most generous and value for money, which is what Restaurant Week is all about, showcasing your food. The $55+ menu had 4 courses, instead of the normal 3 courses at other restaurants. This generosity has left a very good impression on me.
Entree: Salad of King Crab with Avocado, Goat Cheese and Mint. Although Chiobu said that this was ordinary, I loved this! This was absolutely delightful with crab so fresh you can taste the sea in it–the good part of the sea, not the oil-spill part–and the avocado so fresh you can taste the mountain air. It is good enough to be eaten on its own, but you can also use it as a spread on the complimentary bread, so that the texture can provide a contrast.
There were two kinds of complimentary bread that night, sour dough and wholemeal bread. From the bread, you can tell how excellent the service was. They kept replenishing the bread without us asking! We didn’t even finish the bread. Chiobu would usually keep pinching the bread, but even seeing half-finished bread, the wait staff would take the half-eaten bread away to give us a fresh, warm batch. Not only so, they noticed we left the wholemeal bread untouched and so from then on, they only served us the sour dough. How thoughtful was that! Needless to say, our glasses were always filled and they asked us constantly about the quality of the food and the service. We felt very satisfied with the service.
Second entree: Pan fried foie gras with morello cherries and warm blinis. Very chim… what is blini? I checked: it’s a pancake. Chiobu again thought it was ordinary, insisting that (1) the cherry didn’t go well with the foie gras and (2) the outside was too burnt while the inside didn’t melt in the mouth.
I, however, thought the dish was quite, quite wonderful! There was a spirit of adventure in pairing foie gras with cherries. Remember there was a pancake, and foie gras has a creamy, buttery taste, so this is like a breakfast meal of pancakes with butter and cherry jam! Very playful and cheeky. On my part, I thought the cherries complimented the dish perfectly.
About Chiobu’s second complaint that it didn’t melt in the mouth… well, I prefer it to be firm than watery like the horrible one at Les Amis. And I like food to be crispy. Besides, although the foie gras didn’t melt in the mouth like ice, if you press it against the roof of your mouth, it did burst apart with all its buttery juice.
Main: At this point, we were already stuffed because of all the bread we ate. The main, roasted lamb rump with garlic mash and green beans in roasting jus, was deceptively simple. Chiobu loved the mashed potato, but I’m not a fan of potato and I thought it was grainy without the smooth texture that Salt’s mashed potato has.
However, I said the lamb was “deceptively simple” because it had a nondescript taste, you can’t tell what animal it was! The lamb stench was completely eradicated and this tasted very similar to beef. If you eat the lamb with green bean in a mouthful, the textures and tastes of the veg and meat clashed and complimented each other at different times. Although this wasn’t mindblowing–not as fresh as the crab or as interesting as the foie gras–it was well-executed.
The dessert was profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and warm chocolate sauce and almond flakes. Chiobu said she could taste how fat the ice cream was, the restaurant probably used double-fat-cream milk. She didn’t like it and thought it was too much. On my part, I don’t like fancy restaurants serving profiteroles because Singaporeans’ taste is very skewed towards the light Japanese pastry, and no angmoh restaurant can come out light profiteroles like the Japanese. That being said, I think Absinthe’s profiteroles were one of the best I’ve eaten in a Western restaurant, lighter than most.
How you should eat it is that you eat it like a burger. You must cut down, having some almond flakes, chocolate sauce, profiteroles and ice cream. Ideally, the ice cream should be a little melted into the profiteroles, so soften and soggy-ize the profiteroles. A bit of everything was quite wonderful.
This is the only restaurant out of the three for restaurant week to serve us pralines although we didn’t order coffee or tea.
Conclusion: attentive service; amazing and generous food; and cozy, unpretentious decor. Highly recommended. $130 for two.
48 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: (65) 6222 9068
Lunch : 12pm – 2:30pm (Mon – Fri)
Dinner : 6:30pm – 10:30pm (Mon – Sat)
Rating: 3.889/5 poor lambs