This was the first time I had been to Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse – or was it the second time? Previously, I went to BBR by Alain Ducasse for dinner. It was mediocre but they rebranded to Osteria BBR – they didn’t even refresh the decor! — I read glowing reviews by fellow food bloggers, so I decided to give it another chance. I gave it another chance because Alain Ducasse is often known to be the best chef in the world. Read carefully: he’s not one of the best chefs in the world, he is THE best.
But he is best in French cuisine and Osteria BBR serves casual Italian fare. I don’t understand why he didn’t stick to French food. It’s like a professor who researches in 19th-century British literature for 30 years and then suddenly decides to write a book on 21st-century Chinese sci-fi fiction. We are not all Harold Bloom. This time we went for their set lunch menu at an affordable $36 and $42 for 2- and 3 courses respectively.
Like the dinner we had at its previous reincarnation, everything that day was unevenly salted. For starters, the octopus. that comes in 2 cubes, is nicely tender but has no smokey aroma; there are octopi better done elsewhere (see: Bakalaki). My piece was very salty but my partner said his was fine.
The veal is interesting. I thought it was cured (because it was salty and pink) but the menu writes “roasted.” It comes with a tuna sauce so it tastes fishy and meaty. I love the dish for trying to confuse our senses: what we see is not what we taste. But while it was fine for me, my partner found it weird and overly salty. What was going on?
For the mains, I asked the server for their best dish, and she replied the parma pizza. I would normally not order pizza for a 3-course meal but bring it on, I wanted to see how special it was. And it wasn’t. The great thing about this pizza is the cheeses’ flavours run deep and complex. I also love leopard spots on pizzas, indicative of Neapolitan-styled pizza. This is a very good pizza… but there are better pizzas in Singapore (see: Craft Pizza). Going to BBR to eat pizza seems to be a joke?: is this a very bourgeois thinking?
The lamb chops (additional $15) is comme si comme ça. It is a little tough and a little bland, totally unmemorable, but it is okay. It’s a nondescript, inoffensive, commonplace dish that can be find anywhere in any mid-high range restaurant.
For dessert, they keep it simple. The cherry panna cotta is pleasant. I like cherries in general, so this is inoffensive to me.
The service here needs some training too. We asked for bread three times and three different servers forgot to bring to us. We asked a server for bread, he walked maybe 10metres to the bread station, and passed by it, forgot. I asked for vinaigrette for my bread, the server poured it on my partner’s olive oil. Communication is so important, she could have asked first.
All in all, I stand by my first review of the restaurant before it rebranded. Why bother to rebrand when the food and service remain the same? The food isn’t bad per se, but it reminds me that there are better versions of similar dishes in other restaurants, making me miss the other restaurants. I won’t be fooled the third time, Alain.
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse
Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Rd, Singapore 189673
t: +65 6412 1816
Th – M: 12pm – 2.30pm, 6pm – 9.45pm
Closed Tue and Wed, except PH
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Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.