Joel Robuchon’s fine-dining restaurants are paradoxically less popular than his Ateliers. Whilst the latter have taken the world by storm, very few talk about his restaurants in Macau, Tokyo, Las Vegas or Singapore. These, however, are some of the finest French restaurants anywhere.
With the exception of Tokyo and Bordeaux, most of Robuchon’s gastronomic restaurants are in gambling destinations. Located on Sentosa Island, Restaurant Joel Robuchon is one of the most impressive restaurants in the small city-state. The dining room is full of gold, plush carpets line the floors, and his trademark black tables feature prominently. This is the sort of place, where you can see that no penny has been spared to make it as lavish a dining room as there is. Bizarrely, the restaurant is not difficult to get into. Sitting in this grand room almost alone, is not the most enticing dining environment, but once the food arrives, you very quickly forget all that.
Before that happens however, you will be presented with what might be the one of the priciest wine lists we have seen on this planet. Whilst you literally have anything you could possibly want to drink on the list, it will set you back serious money. Coche’s Meursault Perrieres sells for the equivalent of around €4500, which is a little steep (it sells for under €100 at the estate). At Robuchon au Dome, you pay roughly half that for the same wine. Given that the casino and not the restaurant decides on pricing, one can hardly blame the sommeliers. They, just as the black brigade under Thomas Raguzzi, deliver some of the slickest and most impressive service in town.
The food is no less expensive, but that is less of a surprise in Singapore. What you get for your money is one of the most complete classical French dining experiences in Asia. Robuchon delivers the full monty: starting with a bread trolley, butter trolley, the meal ends with the dessert and mignardise trolleys. No detail is neglected in this restaurant. That makes it similar to Robuchon au Dome in Macau, which is one of the last restaurants outside of France to still go to such lengths to spoil its guests.
Once it comes to the meal itself, the dishes are characterised by Robuchon’s perfectionist, product-focused approach. Chef Michael Michaelidis, who runs the kitchen, serves expertly executed Robuchon classics, and a few more recent creations. Amongst the latter, a salad of spider crab, mozzarella and avocado shows how different textures and flavours can be harmoniously combined. Every bite offers a new flavour or texture, whilst a fine acidic backbone ties it all together. Combining the richness of the mozzarella with the crab’s sweetness and earthy, creamy avocado results in an almost perfect dish.
A spicy beef dish feels like a nod to Singapore. This is very spicy as far as food served in fine-dining restaurants goes. Exceptionally, however, the spice is effortlessly integrated, as it cuts through the beef’s richness and makes the dish more palatable and lighter.
The experience of eating at Restaurant Joel Robuchon is one during which you are constantly surrounded by decadence that is otherwise only found in Paris’ grandest restaurants. Whether that is desirable or not is not for us to say, the food, however, is worth the trip to Singapore alone.