&MADE by Bruno Menard, Pacific Plaza

Rumor has it… that Michelin-starred chef Bruno Menard ceded his three-stars in Tokyo to open a casual diner in Singapore.

While Singapore’s questionable and inconsistent service standards continues to be a point of contention, it doesn’t seem to have stopped Michelin-starred chefs from coming in droves to the little red dot. Singapore, with its extensive range of dining options ranging from hawker stalls to fine-dining restaurants, is one of those cities that desperately cries out for a Michelin guide. In fact, Michelin admitted that Singapore was “due” for a guide a whole four years ago, but since then, locally based foodies and bloggers alike have stood by, as if jilted by a precious lover, all while Hong Kong/Macau and the Kansai area received their first red books. After all, if New York’s Laut, which specializes in Thai, Malaysian and Singapore cuisines, has a one-star rating, surely, the place where their menu originates from, should be worth a star, right? I, on the other hand, am not waiting for a local edition. I think a Michelin guide takes out of the fun out of food – you know, officially, which is the best, and in a country that’s as small as Singapore, all this “cross-country” expeditions into the “unknown” in search of good food, is perhaps our best reliever of stress. It makes living in this perpetual hamster ball of hustle and bustle and stress, that bit tolerable.

Perhaps the reason why chefs are coming to our shores isn’t so much because Singapore’s a food haven, but it’s a globally known city that’s free from the stresses of maintaining or earning that Michelin star. While the world’s architects set their playground in Beijing, the world’s chefs are making Singapore theirs to experiment and let go just a little, because after all, why set a USD 1000 degustation menu afforded only by a few when you can make a million souls happy.

Set within the confines of Pacific Plaza is &MADE by Chef Bruno Menard, a casual diner selling French-style sandwiches, toasts (something it calls “toastoo”) and burgers. The atmosphere was very, obviously casual, and homely, and when Darren, myself and his friend visited for dinner, it was teaming with young people, rather surprisingly because it’s not a place that’s particularly visible from the main street so I gathered they heard about the restaurant. Chef Bruno Menard’s interests are in neo-classic French cuisine, with a twist of Japanese in it, so if you were intending to gauge &MADE Michelin-star style, you’ll be disappointed. Half of the menu’s inspired by Asian cuisine, with a burger, toast and sandwich each inspired by Singaporean cuisine itself, so, give the guy a break. To be on the cautious side of things, I chose the “B” Burger. Dry-age beef, onion confit, caper/garlic and compte cheese set between two soft and sesame seed laced buns.

At first, I picked up my fork and knife, ready to dissect and cut the burger, but I was like, Chef Bruno Menard meant this as a casual diner. Let’s drop the pretenses and just eat the burger the way burgers should be eaten – by hand, and it really made the difference. Darren and his friend, forked and knifed the burger individually by sections, and therefore thought it was no different from say, The Handburger. However, chefs, good chefs, and especially in fine dining, it’s really about building up layers and having it together, and there was really no way to truly enjoy and appreciate except using your hands, and that’s my advice to you – forget the cutlery, and use your hands. The combination of the flavors, the caramelized onions and compte cheese when juxtaposed with the a real minced beef patty, was absolutely incredible. The chips on the other hand, wasn’t my cup of tea, for it was a tad too crispy for my liking.

For desert, we shared the Berry Sundae which was simple, but absolutely satisfying. The creme Chantilly made all the difference, and gave the ice cream a depth and character that kind of reminded me like a really good cheesecake.

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