Restaurant Review

Iggy's reopens with hit-and-miss menu

Snacks at Iggy's are the highlights as they playfully tickle the tastebuds, but many of the other courses come across as too salty

Dining at Iggy's has been a case of hit and miss for me.

There have been highs, especially in the restaurant's early days after it opened at the Regent Singapore in 2004. But there have been lows, too, after the restaurant moved to the Hilton Singapore in 2010.

The problem, it would appear, is that owner Ignatius Chan, the Iggy whose name adorns the entrance, is not himself a chef.

So while he might have come up with ideas for the menu, the execution was left to a head chef who changed every few years. And to be honest, not all his ideas worked either.

The restaurant has just been given another reboot, after closing for renovations last month. It reopened early this month with a new look and a new menu from head chef Aitor Jeronimo Orive, who joined the restaurant in June.

  • IGGY'S

  • Level 3 Hilton Singapore, 581 Orchard Road, tel: 6732-2234; open: lunch (Thursday to Saturday), dinner (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday and public holiday

    Food: 3.5/5 stars

    Service: 4/5 stars

    Ambience: 4/5 stars

    Price: $105 for four-course lunch; $175 to $235 for dinner

The new dining room has only minor tweaks, but the changes are interesting.

There are just five tables in the room and the most striking feature is a huge, black-framed glass window that looks into the kitchen. It makes an artistic statement, with the kitchen activity as the art and the diner as the viewer.

Unfortunately, I am seated at the only table without a view of what is on the other side of the glass.

The only glimpses I have of the kitchen is limited to moments when the door behind me opens to allow the service staff to pass through. From what I can see, it looks bright and white - much like it used to.

Another good idea is that a long table in the middle of the room, which easily seats eight, can also be used to seat a couple at each end - with two flower arrangements in the centre as a divider.

There is no a la carte menu, only a Gastronomic Menu that is priced according to how many courses you want to eat.

You get three choices - $175 if you stop at the fish course, $195 with the poultry and $235 if you include the meat and complete all eight courses. All come with dessert, of course.

But as with most modern fine-dining restaurants, the meal starts off with a series of snacks and there is pre-dessert too, so you actually get more than eight items in total.

I order the whole works to get a fairer idea of what the restaurant offers and the results are mixed.

The highlights for me are the snacks, which boast flavours and textures that tickle the tastebuds in a playful manner.

Most impressive is the first item, a take on breakfast cereal that is created with parsnip chips, rice crisps, almond bits - and parsnip milk that you pour in just before eating. The crispy and crunchy bites are addictive and the milk is delicious. This tastes so much better than cereal and is wholesome to boot.

The "ebi two ways" is another snack I like a lot, especially a translucent cracker made with potato starch that is studded prettily with the bright-red baby shrimps.

The cracker crumbles so delightfully in the mouth, but the punch comes from the crispy shrimps, which are salty and sweet at the same time.

But many of the other courses come with problems, the main one being saltiness.

This is an understandable issue, however, and one faced by many chefs who are new in Singapore. They do not know that health-conscious Singaporeans have attuned their palate to low-salt and low-fat cooking. But this is something that chef Orive will no doubt find out quickly.

Hopefully, he will then cut down the salt in the Bomba Mellow Rice, which is otherwise a tasty rice dish cooked with a strong seafood stock and comes with baby squid and lobster.

The quinoa that comes with the Pigeon can also do with a lot less salt. I end up eating just the pigeon breast, which is perfectly cooked - pink and moist - and the oyster leaf garnish, leaving the grains behind.

The problem with the Suzuki fish is quite the opposite, however.

The pan-grilled fish fillet itself is delicious, with bits of salsa verde on top, but I cannot detect any flavour in the accompanying cauliflower couscous. In fact, I can't even tell it's cauliflower.

As for the other courses, they are generally good, but not enough to leave a strong impression.

So, despite moments of brilliance, the meal does not strike me as a success as a whole.

If there are a la carte options, I can at least order just the dishes I like. But since there is no such option, I would be hesitant about paying a hefty price for a meal that I like only a small part of.

•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke

•The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 18, 2016, with the headline Iggy's reopens with hit-and-miss menu. Subscribe