This has got to be one of the most confusing restaurant names in Singapore to pronounce. Some say “Ab-SANT-Tay”, others say “Ab-SIN-th” and I’ve heard “Ab-Sant”. Most people mumble quickly and hope others will understand. But I think the clearest of all is “the French restaurant downstairs from Oso Ristorante”.
I have to admit that before dinner, I was furiously thinking of places to suggest for a nice dinner, all of which were pretty epic fails, so like a drowning man thrown a life-preserver, when Absinthe was suggested, I leaped.
I have to admit, I was never a fan of Chef Francois Mermilliod’s cooking at Flutes (prior to that, Au Petit Salut); sure it was all good when he started out but after a while, everything went to pot.
But all that is history and as they say, history belongs to the past.
We were greeted and seated by the great Phillipe Pau who remembered us from our last visit to Oso. There have been some feedback about Phillipe being intrusive to the point of being rude, I guess these people aren’t used to bubbly personalities. Personally, I like my dinner service to be prescient, witty and charming with the kind of verve that only Phillipe can deliver.
After a pleasant starter of Pata Negra Prosciutto, we were surprised by a amuse-bouche of Crispy Kurobuta Pork Braised with Star Anise courtesy of Chef Francois who came out to greet us earlier.
The crispy pork was presented as a verbal but we hesitated from ordering it because of the Star Anise. This hesitation can be explained vividly if you take a huge bite out of a Star Anise and chew on it.
The crispy pork was delicately spiced yet exceptionally rich. The pork belly was gently crisped with a Kitchen Blow Torch but melted in my mouth and whatever Star Anise flavor present, it was as an faint aftertaste in the broth that leaves your palate refreshed but with a slight want of just one more bite. Brilliant.
This was followed up by the Bouillabaisse which from all accounts, the best in Singapore. Spicy with hints of curry powder and chock-full of seafood such as scallops, a king (I think) prawn and mussels, served with a Rouille (garlic and saffron mayonnaise made with olive oil) and crusty toasty bread, I have to say that those accounts are true.
As we presented our compliments to Chef Francois, he also noted that it’s very difficult to find a Bouillabaisse that he really liked (and this included some places in Southern France), so he created his own version. I thought the one I had at the Raffles Grill was good, but Chef Francois really elevated this supposedly rustic fare to a higher level.
My main was a slow-cooked lamb which was soft, tender and very filling, but I would have preferred a stronger lamb flavor.
Ultimately, we were so stuffed that Phillipe had to insist upon us a splendid cheese course which included a cheese made from a mind-boggling 75% cream. I am happy to say that the cheese selection at Absinthe is as good, if not better, than most restaurants. In the end, we had to refuse dessert, being sated from an almost overabundance of food.
No matter how the complex is the pronunciation of “Absinthe”, I like the simplicity of the food, nothing too flourishy but straight-forward, clean-tasting, ingredient-driven food that is done very well. Restaurant Absinthe is definitely a place we’ll return for more.
Oh yes, I have been asked by a few friends (including 2 chefs) to say this: try their Lobster Bisque; it’s the best in Singapore.
Restaurant Absinthe is at 48 Bukit Pasoh Road, Tel: 6222 9068, Mon-Fri: 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm, Sat: 6.30pm-10.30pm, closed on Sundays.
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Sounds like a good restaurant for French cuisine in Singapore. I’ve heard the pronunciation for Absinthe, wasn’t what I thought it should be, haha! Love to try different types of cheeses, was it served with red wine or biscuits or bread?
@Sugar Bean: Glad to be of service! 🙂 It was accompanied by dried apricots, hazelnuts, golden raisins, dried Muscat grapes and thin water biscuits.
My date declined wine so I didn’t intend to drink alone, but Phillipe pushed an elegant Burgundy to accompany the lamb and cheese.
Surely it cannot be that hard to pronounce! Do they have a website?
It has to do with insecurity and uncertainty (related, to be sure but still…)
I’ve been corrected many times by people who in insist that “Abh-San-TAY” is the correct one. My only defense at that time was Gary Oldman introducing the drink to Winona Ryder in the Coppola movie “Dracula”.
While it was the correct pronunciation, movies apparently don’t make good references. Alas.
Ok if I can give you the Freeeennnch pronunciation it would be something along the line of:
Ab (Like a 6 pack) saint = ab-Saint
as we say: VOILA!!! lol
for private lesson join me at the bar for a glass or two of Absinthe I promise you’ll be speaking French in no time!
Oh you know how we are… always butchering the language. 🙂
We’ll be at Absinthe soon!
I guess only in Singapore, do we get people “butchering” or devise their own prounciation for a simple word…despite English being a dominant business language here…
anycase back to the core topic, has anyone tried this restaurant recently? Is the standard still good?
Not really, you should see how the Europeans butcher my family name. 🙂 They give up and call me Mr. “Ann-Gee”.
I’ve been back a few times and I still like it. Try the Lobster bisque!
[…] Kachang Pool fix and was at dinner with Robert Rainford. He further documented difficulties with Absinthe. Meanwhile the governor of South Carolina, Mark Sanford, goes missing for six days; his […]
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