Modern European magic with Winestone's new menu
Early last year, Winestone at Mercure Singapore on Stevens opened without fanfare.
I asked around, and it seems the restaurant was known for inexpensive wine (from $6 a glass and $28 a bottle) and unremarkable food.
The wine is still there and when I dined there recently, the food `was certainly memorable.
With the arrival of head chef Eugene Li, the cuisine went from Mediterranean to modern European.
His experience - which includes stints in restaurants such as Joel Robuchon and Blackbird Bar & Grill in Brisbane, Australia - certainly helped.
The dishes I had were visually stunning, and the ones I liked were bold, flavourful and hearty.
There is an additional draw. Winestone has floor-to-ceiling windows, so the restaurant is bathed in sunlight.
Try to get a table by the windows. When the light hits the food, it's magical.
Maybe that magic enhanced the food, but I think chef Li does not need the extra help.
Especially not with the Rigatoni Prawn ($26), a simple dish of prawns tossed with rigatoni, roasted capsicums and mixed with tomato Parmesan sauce.
Fresh prawns need very little to make them work, but the sauce raises the umami levels to such a pleasant high.
If there were a carb-less version, I would be the first in line.
The Braised Seafood Risotto ($28) is also great.
Again, it is the boldness of the flavours that hooked me. The risotto is cooked in a robust bisque, and that is what takes it over the edge.
The Pan-Seared Cod Fish ($38) may look the most subtle, but the fish veloute with the cod is stunningly rounded and rich. The sauce seals the deal.
The Seared Scallops ($16) is a beautiful plate.
The seared scallops with chorizo are a treat too, supported by crushed peas and a parmigiano and truffle cream.
My pet peeve is truffle-anything that is so completely drenched in the aroma that you cannot taste or smell anything else. Here, it strikes a nice balance.
The weak link is the Mackerel Tartare (from $16), which I find bland and uninspired. It needs a kick of something to wake it up.
Regardless of what you think of the food though, you have to admire Winestone - and the hotels it is attached to - for being big on sustainability.
Hopefully more restaurants and sectors take heed of the environmental warnings and do something about it.
Speaking as a foodie, I don't taste a difference between sustainable food and everything else, but it does ease the guilt of indulgence.
And if it doesn't taste worse, why not?