Iggy’s is arguably Singapore’s most famous restaurant. The brainchild of sommelier Ignatius Chan, it has become a bit of a cult establishment. And yet, the chefs at Iggy’s rarely make a name for themselves in their own right. Why is that?
Before opening Iggy’s, Ignatius Chan was the sommelier at Les Amis. This meant that he had access to some of the world’s greatest wines and producers. After establishing his reputation there, he went on and opened his own restaurant with the ambition to pair wines with food that he picked up during his travels. Thus, a number of chefs have come and gone at Iggy’s, all briefed to work around the flavours and dishes that Iggy picked up during his gastronomic journeys around the world.
The concept as such sounds good: a great wine list, around which a menu is constructed should be any wine drinker’s idea of heaven. Here you can drink pretty much any great wine from Burgundy or Bordeaux, whilst the rest of the world features with a few very good producers. Reading the menu, the dishes sound interesting. International influences are obvious, with produce from Japan featuring next to traditional Piedmontese tajarin. Unfortunately, however, the menu reads better than the finished product ends up tasting.
A sea urchin, ponzu, somen and shallot dish for instance lacks flavour. The only components that stand out are the shallot’s sweetness and an acidic background. Next to these elements, the sea urchin feels out of place, and given its mediocre quality simply does not manage to stand out.
Pigeon with beetroot, lentils and orange sounds like a good dish. Whilst the bird is cooked correctly, its flavour seems diluted and nearly watery. Next to this, the overpowering beets and dry lentils only make the dish less balanced. It is remarkable how a kitchen manages to produce a pigeon dish, with so little flavour. Such dishes show impeccable execution, which leads us to think that the problem at Iggy’s really seems to be the product quality.
Luckily enough, the pastry at Iggy’s is on a different level. Meals here end with complex, technically well-made and interesting desserts. Forest berries with Campari, lime, mascarpone and blood orange is not only refreshing, but features a fascinating interplay between sweet/sour and bitter flavours. Contrasting textures, make this into the sort of dish you would expect to find at a restaurant of such reputation.
Regrettably, the food doesn’t live up to the restaurant’s reputation. Whilst the kitchen seems to be technically strong, the produce are of mediocre quality. Working with such seafood and meat, it would be a challenge for any chef to make a name for themselves. Is that the reason why the website of the restaurant lists both directors’ biographies, but only mentions its chef passingly? We don’t know. The atmosphere at Iggy’s, however, is their biggest strength. The service is excellent, whilst the dining room is one of the more beautiful in Singapore. It is pure, elegant and slick, and the perfect stage for any meal.
The problem with Iggy’s is the fact that it is very expensive on the one hand, and uses products that are far inferior to those used in comparable restaurants in Singapore. For those who simply want to have an enjoyable meal, this is certainly a very good option; for those who want to have Singapore’s best food, other restaurants are much better alternatives.