Saint Pierre is back in town, moving from Sentosa Cove - where it had been since 2013 - to One Fullerton last month.
And it has returned to fine- dining, with an elegant dining room that boasts chandeliers and well-ironed tablecloths, as well as a grand view of Marina Bay and the soaring Marina Bay Sands across the water.
The almost entirely Caucasian team of servers helps to boost the uppity image of the restaurant too, although their heavily accented English means that you may not catch half of what they are saying when they introduce the dishes.
Saint Pierre, which started in 2000 in Central Mall, was once rated one of the top French restaurants here, together with Les Amis. But the Singapore dining scene has changed a lot since, with celebrated chefs such as Tetsuya Wakuda and Andre Chiang now hogging the awards and the headlines.
Like many fine-dining restaurants today, the revamped Saint Pierre offers only fixed-price menus - for six courses ($158 a person and $148 for vegetarian) and 10 courses ($188 and $178 for vegetarian) for dinner. Lunch is priced at $85 for three courses and $100 with an extra cheese course.
One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road, 02-02B, tel: 6438-0887, open: 11.30am to 3pm (Monday to Friday), 6 to 11pm (Monday to Saturday), closed on Sunday
Food: 2.5 stars
Service: 4 stars
Ambience: 3.5 stars
Price: From $85 for lunch and $158 for dinner
These are a lot more affordable than the $300 to $400 a person that chefs Chiang and Wakuda charge, and even below newer but much-lauded restaurants such as Corner House and Odette, where the priciest menus are about $250 a person.
But the cooking at Saint Pierre also poses no challenge to these restaurants. While one can see the intention to surprise the palate with unusual ingredient matches and the introduction of local produce to French cooking, the results often fall short - judging from the two times I eat there, first invited and then on my own.
Both times, I come away feeling that there is little to excite me. There are well-executed dishes but more often, I find something lacking in the flavours, either through a mismatch of ingredients or poor quality fare.
For my unannounced dinner, I choose the $188 menu, which is only $30 more for an extra four - albeit smaller - courses. But as the meal wears on and I start getting bored with the food, I wonder if I have made the right choice.
The meal starts with a series of snacks and amuse bouche - little morsels such as a cilantro meringue filled with smoked salmon that are packed with interesting flavours and which promise a good start to the meal.
Then the first course arrives and the faults appear. The starter, called Tomato, comprising vanilla oil- marinated Japanese momotaro tomato, coriander water, balsamic vinegar sorbet and cashew nut papadum, tastes refreshing until you inevitably take a larger scoop of the sorbet. You feel the sharp attack of acid on your throat and almost choke, which negates any positive feeling you have towards the dish earlier.
Thankfully, the next course of Avocado provides a balm. Layers of avocado and pickled bangkwang (jicama) are topped with a quinoa tuille and sprinkled with coconut shavings. The avocado is overpowered by the bangkwang, but it is not unpleasant.
The next two courses, Scallop and Lobster, however, both suffer from a mismatch of ingredients.
The scallop comes with raw sweet potato leaves and a herb coulis that both taste too green to complement the sweetness of the shellfish, while the lobster is matched with a bland rice cake and rice milk that do nothing to enhance its flavour.
Next comes Seabass, which is a smooth and sweet fillet that goes well with the coulis of shallot and tomato. But be careful not to mix in too much of the tamarind sauce. A little dab works well, providing the acidity needed to lift the dish, but too much and all you taste is tamarind. In the end, I leave more than half the sauce on the plate.
Beef, which comes next, is described as charcoal-grilled Kobe beef with eel mousse and fermented black garlic puree. The sirloin from a grass-fed cow is chewy, but the problem is that no matter how long you chew, you cannot detect any of the rich, buttery flavour you expect from Kobe beef. I would suggest that the restaurant changes its beef supplier because there is plenty of better quality meat on the market.
The next course is Pigeon and it turns out to be the best of the savoury dishes. The roasted breast fillet is cooked to perfection - not too rare but juicy and tender nonetheless. The leg is served separately, with the bone removed and stuffed with liver before being roasted.
The savoury courses end with Onion, comprising onion puree, shallot confit and comte cheese chips that make up a nice combination of flavours and textures. But I am rather full by this stage and cannot help but feel the dish would have been better appreciated if it had come earlier in the meal.
The sweet courses, however, bring much-needed life to the meal.
Pear, the pre-dessert, is my favourite, with a slice of the fruit served in a glass with pear marmalade, Williamine sorbet and parmesan crumb. The flavour from the variations of the fruit is light and refreshing, which is very welcome after the heavy meal. But it is the slightly salty parmesan that makes this stand out, providing moments of contrast to surprise and excite the palate.
The Chocolate which ends the meal is good too, with a Manjari chocolate sphere filled with coco praline crunch, passion fruit caramel and vanilla parfait. It may be a rather conventional combination of flavours, but the well-balanced sweetness and the variation in textures ensure it does not get boring.
If the earlier courses had been as well thought-out, the meal would certainly have been more enjoyable.
Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke
The Sunday Times paid for its meals at the eateries reviewed here.
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