Restaurant Week ’12: Au Jardin Les Amis
Au Jardin by the Les Amis group is a hot favourite every Restaurant Week. Needless to say, for this October’s edition, seats were all taken up even before bookings were open to the public. I was however rather fortunate as Nat, with his connections, was able to help my friend and I score a Wednesday lunch reservation. And since it was a DiningCity restaurant, we had to top up $15++ for a 3 course meal.
Nestled amidst the beautiful lush greenery of the Singapore Botanic Gardens and a rough 2 minute walk from the Visitor’s Centre, Au Jardin is clearly hidden from sight until you turn a corner and walk up a lane. A restored colonial house, this restaurant is almost like a greenhouse with glass windows all around and tall ferns lined on the outside that lend a comforting touch, it is no wonder that the English translation of Au Jardin is ‘In the Garden’. The main dining area is on the second level and I simply must insist that an afternoon experience at Au Jardin is mandatory for you to wholly appreciate its elegance, beauty and especially the view from your seat.
Request for a window seat when you make your reservation and you will enjoy privacy and intimacy with your dining partner as wooden partition screens are strategically placed between tables.
Grilled tuna with marinated black eye peas salad, Serrano ham, citrus vinaigrette
A lovely summery salad to start us off, the slices of grilled tuna were thinly sliced and seared perfectly, retaining its flavour with minimal seasoning. The freshness of this dense fish gave the salty Serrano ham a little depth and with some citrus vinaigrette tying everything together with a touch of fruitiness, this salad was both welcoming and refreshing.
Braised Escargots with scrambled egg, mushroom and asparagus, Madeira sauce
Escargots are a must-order at any French restaurant for me and Au Jardin’s version though uniquely prepared, did not disappoint. While most French places choose to serve their escargots in shell and drowned in garlic and butter, the ones here were already shelled for us. How considerate. Though I must admit that I personally enjoy using the snail forks to extract the meat. Anyhow, no complains for the well-marinated and chewy texture of the meat and I loved how various types of mushrooms were added. The scrambled eggs too were smooth and had a great consistency. However, the Madeira sauce was for both of us, a little too intense and thick that it got a tad too overwhelming towards the end of the dish.
Roasted lamb leg, grilled provencal vegetable, salted anchovy, olive sauce
Beautifully plated with a touch of grilled vegetables to add some bright colours and extra points for aesthetic appeal. The taste however fell far from its appearance. While the chef had sliced the roasted lamb for our convenience, the slices of meat were unfortunately tough and difficult to bite or cut through. And though I understand that specks of fat are necessary to keep the meat moist and enhance its flavour, there was definitely too high a fat to meat ratio in this case which was rather disappointing.
Variation of pork with white bean casseroles, parsley, natural jus
Thankfully, this pork main ticked all the boxes for us. A platter of pork fillets, sausage and pork belly, this dish had components that were well seasoned and executed. Cutting through the fillets was a breeze and they were nicely pan-fried without being overcooked. The pork belly too was bursting with rich flavours from all the fattiness and simply melted in our mouths.
Nouveau apple tart with vanilla sauce and apple sorbet
I was certainly won over by the presentations of the desserts. The first apple tart was a flat pastry with thinly sliced apples that were cooked till tender but not mushy. The sweetness was a beautiful balance with the sourness of the green apple sorbet, which was an excellent palate cleanser.
Mille-feuille of blueberry cheese cake
Detail, skill and precision were elements aced in this dessert served on an ice cold marble stone. Alternating layers of cheesecake and blueberry, allowed the sweetness of the berries to cut through the heaviness of the cheesecake and yet it was not overly sweet to make you too full. With little touches of sliced blueberries and pomelo bits on the top, waiting to burst out of their skins as juice when you bit into them, this mille-feuille left a great impression.
These bite-sized madeleines were just the perfect end to our meal and a great accompaniment with our complimentary cup of tea.
Dining here at Au Jardin was certainly memorable and enjoyable. Special mention to our server who was very genuine and sincere. While it is not easy to find service staff who take such pride in their work, I most certainly found a few here. Au Jardin is highly recommended for special occasions and for that special someone whom you would like to share this experience with. I definitely hope to return here in the near future should the wallet permit!
1 Cluny Road
EJH Corner House
Singapore Botanic Gardens
Tel: +65 6466 8812
Mon – Sun: 11:30 – 15:00
Fri: 12pm – 2pm (Ladies Luncheon)
Sun: 11.30am – 2pm (Brunch)