Ever since Nicolas Le Restaurant closed their Keong Saik Street outlet a while back, their re-opening has been awaited with bated breath. They finally opened at Teck Lim Road late last year. Their set lunches are a very good deal - $42 for 3 courses (one of each course), and $68 for a multi-course (3 appetizers) lunch degustation. To get the most variety, we went with one $42, and one $68 one.
We started out with a plate of 2 amuse bouches, which unfortunately wasn’t explained to us at all. One was some kind of cheesy gougere I think, and the other was a quenelle of duck rillette on a cracker.
The $42 set lunch offered 4 appetizers to choose from, 3 of which were part of the $68 degustation, so of course we chose the missing one as the starter for the set lunch – a beef tartare with sweet potato crisps and a sunny side up quail's egg. I liked that the tartare was quite roughly chopped - gave it some bite and texture.
The degustation started with a hen egg with caviar, xeres cream and a deep fried tempura (of sorts) prawn. I didn't discern the caviar, but I liked the perfectly cooked egg.
Next up was the black ink tonnarelli pasta with sakura ebi. Vast difference between this and the version we had at InITALY... The light broth in which this was served was briny and insanely flavourful. The pasta and sakura ebi were good too, but the broth was clearly the star.
Third appetizer for the degustation was a ravioli with confit vine tomato and seared Iberico pork. The cheese-filled ravioli and tomato were perfect together, and the pork was fabulous - seared and crisp outside, and a solid medium rare inside. Most of us are used to pork being cooked all the way through, but when the pork is good quality and reared in proper conditions, it can actually be treated like steak. Both the texture and flavour of the medium rare pork were outstanding.
Our mains were a slow roasted rack of lamb, and the special of the day - pigeon two-ways. The lamb was very simply served with mini ravioli and some mash, and a lamb jus sauce.
The pigeon stole the show, though. The leg was confited, and the breast seared. Again, props to them for serving the breast quite rare. It was really tender and the flavour of the meat came through without being excessively gamey.
Dessert was a tasting trio of vanilla ice cream with strawberry crepe, a tuile served on top of a yogurt mousse and chocolate ganache. The chocolate was a bit too potent for me, but the ice cream was really good, and I loved the yogurt tuile.
Overall, lunch was very enjoyable and also very good value. Props to Chef Nicolas for manning the kitchen with only one sous chef. The place wasn't full throughout lunch service, making this a very viable lunch option.
The only criticism is that service was a bit sketchy - more than once we had food placed in front of us without any explanation at all. While I don't need the history of each ingredient explained to me, a brief reminder of the components of each dish (given that we don't have the menus in front of us during lunch) would be helpful.
Even better than before. While I felt the old one was a bit on the stuffy side, this place is now more like fine dining with a somewhat casual feel. The set lunch is also great value (all things considered, i.e. still not cheap). Overall, definitely would go back.
Nicolas Le Restaurant
10 Teck Lim Road
Open daily: 12 noon - 2 pm; 6.30 pm - 10 pm