Saveur – That’s a name that I was hearing quite a bit of on the radio waves. (For the record, I stream my Mediacorp radio channels whilst in Perth!)
When I was back in Singapore during Easter, I made sure not to let slip the chance of visiting this casual “French-Singaporean” restaurant that I’ve heard so much of. Among the positives that I’ve heard, the chance of experiencing authentic French food at very reasonable prices was definitely the high up on the list.
How reasonable, you might ask? A reasonable serving of angel hair pasta goes for S$4, duck leg confit for S$9 and desserts that hover around S$7. That’s cheaper than a bowl of Bak Ku Teh at some up-market hawker joints!
So, here’s a succinct introduction to the restaurant. Saveur started as a stall in a coffee shop, somewhere in the East. Granted, I have personally not been there, but word on the street was that the food was good, if not excellent. Of course, the concept of French dining in a coffee shop is not a new one – The French Stall and Le Cuisson come to mind.
If memory serves me right, there was an article in the local press that one of the aims of the two chefs, Joshua Khoo, 27, and Dylan Ong, 24, who together founded Saveur, was to introduce the concept of sous-vide cooking into the masses (clearly evident from their web-site dedicating a page on sous-vide.)
So, after a few months running Saveur as a stall in the coffee shop, it was time for them to move out of their test-bed into proper premises. Their new location on Purvis Street is somewhat interesting considering how they are literally opposite one of the best French restaurants in Singapore – Gunther’s (read review here) .
With all the hype surrounding the restaurant, it’s not hard to see why the restaurant was three-quarters filled at 2PM on a wet Saturday afternoon.
Angel Hair Pasta with sherry minced pork and sakura ebi (S$3.90)
The pasta was surprisingly good. The pasta was slightly over cooked, which to be honest wasn’t too much of a biggie. The flavours mixed well with one another and in all truth, was rather appetizing.
Not wanting to try the foie gras and the fact that a number of the other appetizers were out-of-stock, we dived straight into the mains after only one pasta dish.
Confit of duck with Orange and Saute Shittake Mushrooms – S$8.90
The Duck Confit is one of the specialities, if you will, of the restaurant. And at S$9, it costs a less than a quarter of what other restaurants would charge for a similar dish.
The duck was done rather well, I must add. Certainly, the texture of the meat, having been cooked sous-vide was slightly different from if it was prepared the traditional way. That said, the fact that it was cooked so, resulted in one of the more tender ducks that I’ve had.
For the health conscious, I’m pretty confident that the calorie load of Saveur’s rendition of the classique dish is lower than most.
That said, the mash was disappointing – there were lumps. I’m neutral to having a smooth mash vis-a-vis a lumpy version – having mash that is in between clearly shows a lack of finesse.
Crispy Pork Belly with Poached Egg and Diced Vegetables – S$10.90
The pork belly was nothing short of awesome – tender pork coupled with a crispy skin.
The poached egg and the lentils combined well with one another too.
Pistachio Panna Cotta – $6.90
The panna cotta was good but there were two negatives that I thought could be improved upon:
– The almond flavour was far too strong. This dessert tasted more like an artificially flavoured almond pudding. If the almond essence is to be toned down ever-so-slightly, I’m pretty sure this would be a star in the making.
– The texture felt wrong. I’ve had my fair share of panna cottas and to call this one might be a misnomer. It was far too firm in my opinion, completely lacking the wobblyness/lightness of what-I-define as a panna cotta. I do note that this is a matter of mere opinion.
The bits of pistachio gave texture to the panna cotta which was nice.
All said and done, I still found myself enjoying the dessert to the very last spoon.
Textures of Citrus – S$6.90
The textures of citrus was a refreshing end to the meal. Its citrusy and tart flavours of the pudding-like Blood Orange gelee were complemented by the sweetness of the ice-cold Orange Granita.
My take on Saveur from the few dishes that I’ve tried is that it definitely lives up to its aims of (1) introducing the sous-vide cooking technique into the masses and (2) serving French-Singaporean cuisine at reasonable prices.
Now, herein I see a problem; That problem would be seeing Saveur, as an entity on its own, as a going concern. First and foremost, Purvis Street does not have a suffer a problem of low tenancy rates and because reality is harsh, rental rates on that street are definitely high (and will only continue to increase). Add that to the on-going business and operating expenses that can only increase, I foresee that the owners of Saveur will have to increase the Average Selling Prices of their dishes to cover those expenses. One possible counter argument would be that the high turnover rate of the restaurant patrons would generate enough revenue. And if I were to boldly suggest, the quality of the food served at Saveur definitely warrants an increase in their prices. I like Saveur and I hope that they are, and will be here for the long run. Even if that means having to pay more for the food.
5 Purvis Street
T: 6333 3121
Opening Hours: 12pm-9.30pm daily
Note: No reservations; Walk-ins only. I hear too, that one has to be prepared for a wait of 30 minutes or so during peak dining hours.