Thursday, January 17th, 2019
With an unusual baby free Sunday evening between Christmas and New Year, we found ourselves looking for a nice restaurant to make a last minute booking at. It turns out a lot of restaurants in Singapore are closed on a Sunday evening which was frustrating and after quite a bit of research, we came across Stellar at 1-altitude. It is located on the 62nd floor at Raffles Place, 1 floor below what is apparently the highest rooftop bar in the world, and offers modern Australian cuisine alongside stunning views of the Singapore Strait.
One thing that really appealed to me about Stellar was their concept of having ingredients of the season. This season these included hokkaido uni, wagyu and rock road gin. We opted for the 8 course chef’s omakase menu costing $220.
We started off with two amuse bouche. First of all was a vegemite puff, the chef clearly stating his Australian heritage and secondly soft shell crab. Both of these apetisers were eye catching but we found that the flavours weren’t as exciting as we’d hoped they would be from the presentation.
The first starter was a nice fresh delicate dish of pear and burrata cheese, very enjoyable and not a combination we had eaten before.
Next up was watermelon compressed into cylinders with a hint of bolognese flavouring. Since living in Asia, we’ve been enjoying the fruit here and watermelon is one fruit where I really think it does taste more fruity and delicious here than what we would buy in the supermarket in the UK. The watermelon in this dish was lacking in some of that flavour however. The bolognese was somewhat subtle and although not a particularly bad combination, we were left wondering what had led the chef to come up with this dish, rather than being wowed by it which is what I think chefs would want when they present something unusual.
Following the watermelon was a piece of seared tuna belly with a lemon foam. This felt like a much more natural combination, however we felt the dish was let down first of all by the quality of the tuna and secondly the flavour of the fish was overpowered by the lemon.
The menu then moved away from the lighter flavours to a more earthy autumnal dish of fennel and beetroot. I quite enjoyed this one, Dean not so much but he admitted that was mostly due to him not being a huge fennel fan. This was followed by a dish of cod and carrot. The carrot was delicious but the fish was overcooked. Quite a simple dish so disappointing that it was not cooked to perfection.
At this point in the meal, we were told that we would be taking a trip to the garden. I was sitting with my back to the kitchen so had no idea what to expect. Dean however had seen everyone else going for their “trip” so knew what was in store. The “garden” was a row of 3 pots of herbs that they are growing in the room about 5 steps from our table. We were invited to taste each one as they described the flavour and uses to us. Then a palette cleanser in the form of a meringue cooked in liquid nitrogen was prepared in front of us to eat before we went back to the table. A nice little interlude and similar to what we experienced at Azurmendi in Spain but it still felt a little strange to be eating herbs on their own.
The next dish was one of my favourites. However since I’m writing this a little after the time, I can’t remember what the meat was – oops. What I do remember however is that it was delicious. For this course, the flavour definitely matched the presentation. I was really pleased to eat this after a few disappointing dishes.
The last of the savoury courses was wagyu and uni with a horseradish cream. I’m not a huge horseradish fan so was a bit worried that the cream would be too strong a flavour for me but it was actually nice and light and the beef was well cooked.
The meal finished on a real high when the chef came to our table to prepare desert. Reminiscent of deserts at Alinea in Chicago, the chef placed a board and proceeded to create a work of art in front of us. Two delicious deserts, meringue, flowers, flame. I was impressed. If I could return and only eat the desert then I would.
Overall it was clear that the chef at Stellar has some great ideas and is aiming for something spectacular. Given the fantastic views which will always draw customers, he could play it safe and stick to a very classic menu so it was definitely fun to see that he was coming up with new ideas but we thought that some of the basic cooking techniques were lacking and some of the ingredients were not of the quality we would have expected for the amount of money we were paying. I found it interesting to recognise some of his influences, I’m pretty sure he’s eaten at Alinea at some point! As is often the case with restaurants that are attracting crowds based on their high position and good views, the food wasn’t the best and I think you can eat much better meals for the money in Singapore.
Restaurant style: Fancy
Favourite course: Desert
Will we be going back?: No