As part of Marina Bay Sands’ Ultimate Gastronomic Discovery, PassportChop.com had the opportunity to sample some of the best fine dining fares in Singapore with celebrity restaurants – SANTI, Guy Savoy and db Bistro Moderne. Besides great food, diners are treated to a feast not just for the stomach but also for the eyes – with the exquisite restaurant decor as well as the food presentation. Follow us on a journey to explore what it is like to dine at celebrity restaurants.
SANTI by Santi Santamaria
Modeled after the late Chef Santi Santamaria’s first restaurant in Spain – the world renowned Can Fabes, SANTI combines Mediterranean culture with the authentic taste of the Catalan region in Spain. The cuisine is both basic and sophisticated, guided by a respect for seasonal ingredients and meticulous attention to the preparation of the food. Since its opening in Marina Bay Sands, SANTI has been warmly received by diners and the restaurant has even earned the coveted award of Best New Restaurant in the prestigious Singapore Tatler Best Restaurants Guide 2011.
Dressed in rustic dark woods and accented by custom artwork “graffiti” overlaying modern glass enclosures, SANTI’s décor reflects the warmth of Can Fabes, which is also the late chef’s family home for the past two centuries. The restaurant comprises of a cosy tapas bar and lounge at the entrance and an 80-seat fine-dining section that offers a truly exquisite gastronomic experience.
Santi combines the unique culture and taste of the Mediterranean, derived from Chef Santi Santamaria’s Catalan roots. This modern restaurant serves culinary masterpieces with the influences of different Asian cultures.
After some light appetizers and wine, we started on our gastronomic journey at SANTI with a platter of 3 dishes (see 1st picture below):
- Baby Calamari “A La Plancha” served with sofrito and chimichurri sauce
- Prawn and Melon Salad served with limo iberico, paprika oil and apple puree
- Sri Lankan Crab served with potato and scrambled eggs
The baby calamari was very well-cooked – crispy due to the “A La Plancha” style of cooking which means they were grilled on a metal plate. The servings of the above dishes are the typical size of tapas – providing you with a quick and tasty snack, leaving you wanting for more – which is just perfect as our craving for the next dish was fulfilled with Traditional Catalan Caneloni served with black truffle sauce (see middle picture below). Thankfully, the serving was sizeable as it was delicious!
The Catalan Caneloni is a bit of a cross between an oversized wanton (dumpling) and lasagna but it is nothing like an Italian cannelloni apart from the thin strips of pasta that they wrap the stuff in. Instead of tomato sauce in the Italian version, the Catalan version consists of a creamy béchamel that covers a pasta and minced white meat sauce. The Catalunians normally eat cannelloni (Canalons in Catalan) on the feast of Sant Esteve (Saint Stephan’s Day), a Catalan holiday on the day after Christmas. Traditional Catalan cannelloni are stuffed with leftovers from the Christmas meal — chicken, turkey and/or pork.
This was followed up by 2 tapas dish:
- Mushrooms Al Ajillo served with Swiss chard – delicious Spanish garlic mushrooms
- Pinchos Morunos with artichokes deep fried – these are skewered kebabs of marinated pork which are commonly served in tapas bars all over Spain.
We rounded off our meal with a delicious serving of Tarta Sara – a traditional Catalan almond cake. These cakes are famous for their delicacy and were the result of careful preparation and traditional cooking method in Spanish convents. These recipes, a legacy of the Arab presence in Spain, wisely combine almonds with honey and eggs and were brought to the convents by nuns who had learnt them in their homes.
At SANTI, it is not just the great food that matters – it is the story behind each of these dishes and how Chef Santi Santamaria had crafted these recipes based on Catalan traditions that really enhances the experience of dining at SANTI. It is the combination of the personal touch that Chef Santi had brought into designing the restaurant to look like his first restaurant – Can Fabes back in his hometown plus his self-designed SANTI plates (each labelled with his name in an artistic way) that makes us feel as if this is not his restaurant but in his house. Not forgetting the attentive sommelier and waiters that provided impeccable service and taking their time to explain each of these dishes to us – this really completed the great dining experience at SANTI.
Unfortunately, the Singapore Marina Bay Sands celebrity restaurant (SANTI) of Spanish Michelin-starred Chef Santi Santamaria, who died of a heart attack last year, had closed in March 2012 as the Santamaria family refocuses its business to Santi’s native Spain.
For Chef Guy Savoy, fine dining is all about the senses. It is through his cuisine that this revered French chef expresses his sensitivity and passion for food. Selecting only the finest ingredients, prepared and served with an uncompromising awareness of what makes a dining experience truly exceptional, is what earned the prestigious Guy Savoy restaurant in Paris three Michelin stars. Chef Savoy’s unerring attention to detail and profound respect for his carefully selected ingredients are replicated in the Singapore restaurant. Guests can dine in its modernist dining room or choose to have a pre-dinner aperitif at the champagne bar.
Guy Savoy Singapore has introduced a highly popular concept from its Parisian flagship restaurant. ‘Bites and Bubbles’ is a bar dining concept that allows guests to enjoy tasting portions of signature items from the fine dining French restaurant. Guests can choose between two to four items, starting from S$40++ onwards. Wines and Champagnes, by the glass or bottle, are available to complete the bar dining experience. The ‘Bites and Bubbles’ menu is available from 6:00pm – 10:30pm every day. After our meal at SANTI, we walked over to Restaurant Guy Savoy for a tasting of what’s on offer at the Bites and Bubbles menu. Of course what’s Bites and Bubbles without Bubbles i.e. champagne – we were introduced to Champagne Guy Savoy ($30++ per glass). This glass of Champagne Guy Savoy helped to clear our palates (from the SANTI dining experience) for some French cuisine at Guy Savoy.
The Oysters in Ice Gelee‘s ($30) flavours were clear and light and it comes with a light refreshing sea taste. The oyster was fresh and did not come with any fishy taste. The next dish that came along was Beef Tartare with “Pommes Dauphines” ($40) drew similar comments from our dining partners – the dish can be split into 2 parts – Beef Tartare and Pommes Dauphines. Generally, we couldn’t get used to the Beef Tartare as it was served raw – mix the egg yolk well with the raw beef to smoothen the raw beef taste. We have no problems with the Pommes Dauphines though as they are essentially crisp potato puffs made with mashed potatoes.
For reference, see picture below (in a clockwise direction starting from the left picture). We were also served with Foie Gras and Radish sauce ($30); the Foie Gras was one of the best quality foie gras I had recently. It was creamy, intense and not too oily. The radish leaves served by the side helps to reduce the oiliness in the mouth.
The New Zealand scampi “A La Plancha” ($45) served with avocado and chanterelles and light mushroom jus was great – the scampi was great as it was grilled well on a metal plate – the avocado and the mushroom by the sides helped to balance the taste. We were also treated to a Chestnuts all around ($25) dish which demonstrated how chestnuts can be presented in different forms (liquid soup and chestnut strips) and combined to form a delicious dish.
We rounded off our Bites and Bubble treat at Guy Savoy with a Sweet Bites – The Little Pots of the Day ($15 each) – Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Rice Pudding. Despite being very full from both the SANTI meal and the Guy Savoy Bites and Bubbles menu, we can’t resist these pots of “heavenly sweetness”!
What complemented the great meal was the service – which was excellent. The staff made us feel comfortable the moment we walked in – not exactly what we expected from a fine-dining establishments where service is often that of stiff-upper-lip and haughty. You will find none of that here at all – the staff were always ready to assist us and explain to us what these dishes were about and even cracked some jokes to lighten the atmosphere.
The Bites and Bubbles menu is an affordable way to try out different Guy Savoy signature dishes – for just $60, you get to try 4 of the above courses (which if ordered separately would have cost you more than $100 – $200). If you do drop by Guy Savoy restaurant, you must try Guy Savoy’s signature soup: Artichoke truffle puree with thick black truffle slices and parmesan cheese shavings paired with a flaky black truffle brioche slathered in truffle butter ($40) – best get the Small Bites “bundle” where you top up another $20 to enjoy 3 more of Guy Savoy’s great dishes!
Guy Savoy is available for bar dining (3 pm – 10.45pm) and dinner (6 pm – 10.45 pm). Reservations are needed. For reservations, please call 6688 8513 or email [email protected]
If you are considering dropping by Guy Savoy, why not also consider Marina Bay Sands’ Stay and Dine Package where you can indulge in exquisite dining at Marina Bay Sands. Pair your stay with fine French dining for 2 at the award-winning celebrity chef restaurant Guy Savoy (open Tuesday to Saturday). You can enjoy the TGV Menu, named after the high-speed trains of France. This four-course menu changes daily and revolves around classic Guy Savoy items, new dishes under development, and special limited-quantity items. You can delight in numerous amuse bouches, pre-desserts and conclude your meal with the decadent dessert trolley.
The package includes:
- 2-night stay at Marina Bay Sands
- Dinner for 2 at Guy Savoy
With such a luxurious gourmet menu of French ‘Nouvelle Cuisine, your stay can only be magnifique! Also, Bangkok is another great place for amazing food. You can find a variety of cheap Bangkok hotels.
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