Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt, The Arts House

I must tell you about my only Restaurant Week dining experience. It was a three course lunch at the aforementioned restaurant in the Arts House which is located just behind the Sir Stamford Raffles statute by the Singapore River. The food was “exquisite modern French cuisine“; basically French inspired but much Asian infusion. OCF’s food was surprisingly, and even shockingly, superb! When we pushed open the heavy door, we entered upon a small beautiful restaurant that was heavy on wood accents, and amble comfortable grey cushioned chairs. We sat by the counter and faced the open-planned kitchen. All the kitchen staff were Asian so I was excited for the Asian interpretation of classic French cuisine. And Chef Jonathan Koh did not disappoint. He knocked it out of the woods and astounded us with his interpretations of the French cuisine!

I was all ready for Restaurant Week to pass and boast about how I gave it a miss because it was not worth out and the whole concept just out to cheat diners. But when my sister showed me pictures of OCF and the food was all beautifully and expensively-lookingly-plated plus a 3 course lunch would cost $25++, I knew I had to dump my ego and seize the opportunity. So let me show you what we had.

We started off with warm pillowy-soft slices of sourdough bread complimented with a butter shaped into a pyramid sitting on a stone slab (commonly seen in Steakhouses where the grilled meat will be served on them). The sourdough bread was perfect with it’s tender interior contrasting with the crispy exterior. It reminded me of the delicious sweet bread in Australia. I swear the bread there are magical and so fond memories came flooding back to me as I was savouring the slice in OCF.

For starters, I had the L'(Euf sur L'(Eur << OCF Signature >>

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Eggs on Eggs, Cured Salmon. This was essentially a prettier, more expensive Eggs Benedict with Hollandaise Sauce. Nothing special, to be honest. The sauce was bland and did not register in me. The cured salmon tasted exactly like supermarket-bought smoked salmon. But waittt, this was the only disappointing dish because the other starter, which my sister got, was much better!

The Les Coquilles Saint-Jacques

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Hokkaido Sea Scallops, Capellini Pasta, Truffle Fragrance. This dish and the combination of flavours are very common in Singapore due to our deep love for truffle-flavoured food. Having said that, the pasta tossed with truffle oil and little green garnishers and served cold was extremely light, and cooked to al dente. Plus the thin scallop slices were so so fresh. This dish may be simple but could easily be butchered. OCF did not let that happen.

Then the main courses arrived and that is when OCF really shone. My sister had the Le Cochon; Iberian Pork Cheeks, Carrot Puree, Roasting Jus.

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While the pork cheeks were expectedly tender, it was that bright orange carrot puree that was outstanding. It was so smooth, so velvety, subtly sweet, and so very heavenly! There must have been a lot of butter and cream involved but I found myself generously smearing them on the two pieces of pork that I had.

I had the cutely named Le Boeuf.

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U.S Dry Aged Beef, Koshihikari Rice, Sauce Bordelaise. This dish was a triumph! It arrived in front of me with the two pieces of beef boldly pinkish red – perfectly medium rare. It was juicy and beefy. The asparagus was still crunchy. And that little disk of bone marrow atop was extremely tasty thanks to the salty Sauce Bordelaise. I never understood bone marrow but I guess a seasoned-to-death sauce is required to bring out the charismatic nature of it. But it was the Koshihikari Rice that was the star of the dish. Each short rice grain was plump and luscious. There were generous amounts of both white and black sesame seeds that turned up the Asian flavour to another notch. Eating the beef and rice together did not feel like French dining to me but it was precisely this Asian component that set me right at home in OCF. It was comfort food and I still pine for this dish.

For desserts, OCF was only too amazing and demonstrated a reason for their longevity. I was a right spoilt brat to request a change to the only dessert offered on the menu. It was a chocolate dessert and I just wasn’t feeling it. I just had a slice of Fullerton Hotel’s Chocolate Manjari Cake.  A three-layered ultra rich chocolate cake made from a thick layer of chocolate mousse, topped with a bitter chocolate ganache with a crunchy nutty bottom (a colleague’s birthday). It was divine but I was also chocolate-out at that point. The kitchen did not flinch when I requested a change and asked if I would like “apple” to which I said yes, of course. At that point, I was fully expecting a whole apple to be placed in front of me but no, not even close. What I got was this…

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La Pommes. Look at it! Isn’t it the cutest dessert you have ever seen? And not only did it look inviting, it tasted even better! Thin layer of densed sponge cake, little balls of Vanilla Poached Apples that were so juicy and crunchy. Then topped with the most refreshing Granny Smith sorbet with that thin crispy caramel crisp to provide the crunch factor. Seriously refreshing and strangely, clean-tasting! I am so glad I changed the chocolate dessert. I love chocolate but to excel in a non-chocolate ending provides endless joy for me.

Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt was a wonderful experience. I got a return-visit 15% off voucher and I can’t wait to use it but I reckon I am going to gift it for someone else to discover the unexpected joy the same way I did.

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