Restaurant Review

Lerouy - Master of old and new

Christophe Lerouy marries different flavours and textures in unique ways at his new restaurant

If there is a trend in the Western dining scene here, it is how chefs are merging different culinary traditions to come up with original dishes that have a strong individual stamp.

Christophe Lerouy - who previously helmed the kitchens of one-Michelin-starred Alma By Juan Amador and DSTLLRY par Christophe Lerouy - is the latest to do that, with his 10-day-old eponymous restaurant.

Lerouy, which adds to the growing number of restaurants in Stanley Street, does not have an a la carte menu.

Diners get only two omakase choices: Petit ($38 for a three-course lunch, $98 for a five-course dinner) and Grand ($55 for a five-course lunch, $128 for a seven-course dinner).

While not low, the prices are very competitive, compared with what other similar restaurants are charging, especially since the chef comes from a Michelin-starred restaurant.

It's early days and there is room for improvement, but the chef shows a lot of promise.

Give him a few months to find his feet and I won't be surprised if the eatery gets onto top restaurant lists.

  • LEROUY


    01-01, 3 Stanley Street, tel: 6221-3639; open: noon to 2pm (Mondays to Fridays), 6 to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays). Closed on Sundays

    Food: 4/5

    Service: 3.5/5

    Ambience: 3.5/5

    Price: From $38 for lunch to $128 for dinner

Lerouy is a master at putting the old and new together to come up with dishes that have a strong signature.

Take his sauces, for example.

They come in non-Western flavours such as miso, curry and shiso, but are often rooted in French classical cooking. You can taste the richness of butter in some, though balanced with an acidic element to lighten it a bit. And that hits the spot for me each time.

As with most modern Western restaurants, dinner starts with snacks and the chef offers two very good ones as a prelude to the seven-course menu.

First is an oblong piece of focaccia spread with creme fraiche and draped with a thin slice of lardo, then sprinkled with chives.

While the lard is melting over the warm bread, pop everything in your mouth and enjoy the decadence.

Then follows something quite different: a crispy polenta chip holding a raw amaebi (sweet prawn), fennel and aioli. A play on textures tickles your palate, even as the flavours combine.

Dinner then commences with a steady flow of dishes, most of them with a seafood focus.

My favourite is a happy marriage of snow crab, pan-fried foie gras and mustard cress, drizzled with dill oil and apple vinaigrette. Sitting on top is a ball of apple foam.

Much as I dislike foam in my food, I have to admit that, in this case, it helps to make the dish more visually interesting. And there is enough apple flavour to make it relevant.

The plating, however, needs some rethinking. The dish is served on a flat piece of earthenware. When the server removes it, you see streaks of dill oil have flowed onto the table.

More foam appears in the next dish, where a plump Japanese oyster is half-submerged in a froth of Comte cheese. Dollops of miso cream and pieces of pear add dimension to the dish and strings of sea grapes not only garnish, but also provide little bursts of crunch in the mouth.

The dishes that follow - bluefin tuna tataki with yellow curry sauce; squid ink rice with chorizo, smoked eel and egg yolk confit; and slow-cooked trout with shiso sauce - have varying degrees of success. For example, I find the pimenton sauce in the rice a tad sharp and the shiso sauce for the trout lacking the herb's strong flavour.

The only meat dish - a piece of Australian wagyu with leek and black garlic - is the weakest. The meat is sinewy and requires too much chewing.

I initially thought the choice of cut could be deliberate because the chewing brings out the flavour. But in the end, I find it just too much work for my jaws.

There are two desserts, including one that plays on coffee variations. But what stays in my mind is a whimsical white chocolate lollipop covered in beetroot puree and flavoured with a strong dose of wasabi.

My dining companion finds it too strange, but I love the uncanny juxtaposition of flavours.

There is only counter seating at Lerouy, but it is not a straight counter like in other restaurants. Instead, it weaves and winds along the room like a river.

The design not only allows more room for the open kitchen, but it also creates areas where diners get to face one another - so it's easier to have a conversation.

But that raises another question.

At my dinner, there are only three couples eating and conversations are kept at a low volume.

But with bigger groups and with people talking across to one another, will this be yet another restaurant where you can't hear yourself think?

•Follow Wong Ah Yoke on Twitter @STahyoke and on Instagram @wongahyoke

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

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 19, 2017, with the headline 'Master of old and new'. Print Edition | Subscribe