Following the success of Saveur and Concetto by Saveur, the group has gone fine dining. The modern French restaurant derives its name from the holy trinity of arts: art paintings adorning its walls; the art of food; and a pun on the Christian hymn, “How Great Thou Art.” Former sous chef of Jaan, Chef Tyler Lai now helms the kitchen, presenting an innovative and affordable menu: 2-course set lunch at $29, 3-course $37; and a 4-course dinner at $52. (Prices listed below in this review are a la carte prices.) With your meal, Britt Ng, who won Malaysia’s Best Sommelier, recommends you fermented grape juice.
Appetizer: Chestnut veloute, homemade chestnut brioche ($10)
An annoying reflex action of mine is that tears jump to my eyes when I eat orgasmic food. And the slow-cooked, organic, poached egg confit ($12; to add shaved truffle, additional $18) made me cry. Ask Nicole (Pinky Piggu), she witnessed my involuntary tears. Shakira’s hips don’t lip; my eyes don’t lie. The dish had a mindblowing melange of textures and flavors: the crisp of the salty chips, the padded texture of truffle of earthliness, the creaminess of egg, and the crunch of sweet macadamia.
Should you pay $18 to add the truffle? It’s a hard question to answer. The foam is made from truffle, so there is already the scent of truffle in the dish. But the shaved truffle adds a nice texture, confusing your tongue, adding complexity–is it soggy chips or shaved truffle I am eating? Ah, it is truffle. So my advice is if you can afford the spare dollars, go for it. Otherwise, the dish itself is already pleasing.
Appetizer: Saveur Art Pasta. Mozambique langoustine, cold angel hair pasta with olive oil emulsion ($13)
I would grade the four appetizers in this order: egg confit (A+); pasta (A); chestnut veloute (A-); and Greens and Soil (B, $18, pictured above). The Iberico ham was lost in a colorful medley of organic vegetable (including romanesco and purple cauliflower) on a bed of “soil” and purees of pumpkin, beetroot, garlic, pea, and yogurt. More ham would be better, would add more savoriness to the dish. The dish was still good, only that it was something I won’t order. I won’t order it because I’m a carnivore. It’s personal prejudice, not the fault of the dish. I guess the restaurant has to cater to grass eaters. Moooooo
When I asked Chef Lai how come the poached Maine lobster ($49 for whole, $25 for half), and Mozambique langoustine (from appetizer section) were the sweetest crustaceans I ever had, he replied simply that they were live, fresh seafood. I had live lobsters and scampi before, but none came close to the intense, eye-scrunching natural sweetness of Saveur Art’s version.
I’m a great advocate of not wasting money on food that requires simple cooking, like lobster roll. But this poached Maine lobster came with lobster ravioli and lentil puree, made from lentils de Puy, in lobster jus–definitely something I am not competent to cook, and definitely something worth getting.
Another main with Asian-inspired element was the braised short ribs ($28), marinated in cumin, ginger, garlic. Ok on its own, but you should roll it, encrust it in the jalapeno-rosemary crumbs to give it an added texture and herby aroma.
“I am so sick of chocolate lava cake” but when the chocolate & pistachio ($13) came, I ate the Valrhona chocolate along with my words. This was Valrhona chocolate with different percentages done 4 ways: Guanaja 70% chocolate fondant, Tanariva 30% chocolate mousse, Ivoire white chocolate foam, and Araguani 72% chocolate chips. When Nicole asked why I wasn’t eating, I replied, “Because I’m controlling my inner Hulk. If I unleash him, I won’t stop eating till every last drop is in my stomach and you will have none to eat.” I licked the bowl clean.
For a new restaurant, the service was immaculate. Two weeks before the opening, they role-played with the wait staff to ensure they were trained. It was true; I stopped random wait staff and they all could tell me what was in the dish I was eating.
Some fine-dining have innovative but not delicious food. Some fine-dining have delicious, honest, but boring food. But Saveur Art not only manages to balance refined taste with innovation, the restaurant won’t break your bank account. I really, really, really like this restaurant. I wanted to rank Tong Le as the Best Restaurant in 2014, but now I have to re-evaluate my ranking. I’ve started to plan for what I want to eat on my next visit.
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
Thanks, Dylan and the staff at Saveur Art, for the delightful invited meal.