A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to be invited by our good friends at The South Beach – a new Philippe Starck-designed hotel that promises to be a game-changer in the region’s hotel scene – to dine at their restaurant ADHD (All Day Hotel Dining). At the hotel lobby I was met by a smiling host, who ushered me through the check-in area, which resembled a chic bar more than anything else, and into the elevator. Once the doors closed, the elevator lights began changing colours, artfully highlighting the different sea creatures that adorned the walls of the carriage. Truthfully I felt like I was going under water on an aquatic adventure, and despite being afraid of deep-sea diving, I did not hate it.
Since I arrived before my dining companions, I got to peruse the menu at leisure. While waiting for the food to arrive, we were treated to some freshly-baked brioche with some butter aioli. I loved that it was not just regular bread, and not any regular butter. The warm brioche was pleasantly light, fluffy, and not overly buttery. I loved the hint of lemon in the aioli, and spread it quite generously on the brioche. So far, so good.
As the waiters set the table for the first course, I noticed the gorgeous plates, and was told these lovely ceramic beauties came from Amsterdam-based designer pols potten – that’s right, no uppercase. How very Ee Cummings!
Our first starter was the Salmon Three Ways ($32), which consisted of smoked salmon wrapped around a sour cream roulade, a couple of slices of Balik salmon, and Asian-cured salmon with some black roe.
The first bite of roulade tasted somewhat unrecognizable, but gave way to reassuring familiarity after a couple more bites. The saltiness of the smoked salmon countered the richness of the sour cream, creating a balance of tastes in the mouth. The Balik salmon – a Swiss style of smoked salmon widely regarded to be the best in the world – was exceptionally tender, and delicately salty. It was just so simple and delicious. Executive Chef Martin Braecker explained that the secret behind the tenderness of Balik salmon is that it comes from the filet above the spine, and has never been in contact with bone. Think of it as the salmon version of the otoro tuna belly. The Asian-cured salmon was texturally similar to the Balik salmon, with the caviar adding little bursts of flavor. Overall I thought this was a superb starter.
We then moved on to the Truffled Oxtail ($16): oxtail meat that has been braised for four hours, shredded, then shaped into a praline and breaded. This was easily one of my favourite dishes of the night. I thought the presentation very novel, since oxtail is usually cooked in a stew or soup. The breading was on point, so every mouthful had a satisfying crunch. With each bite the rich flavours of oxtail jus spread through my mouth. A key element of the dish was the side of arugula and crispy potato ring. The nutty taste of the rocket leaves cut the richness of the oxtail so you wouldn’t tire of the taste.
We were then served the Bouillabaisse, which was part of ADHD’s Festive Menu, which will be available closer to Christmas Day. I thought the presentation was especially delightful – the servers pour the Mediterranean saffron fish consommé over pan-fried fish chunks and prawns right in front of you, so you get to enjoy the flavourful anise-tinged broth, and still taste the crisp edges of the fish. I definitely tried to savour this dish for as long as I could!
Next up was the Country Foie Gras, another feature of the Festive Menu at ADHD. The dish is composed of seared foie gras alongside an apple pie drizzled in rosemary caramel.
While I was very much looking forward to it, the foie gras was slightly disappointing. I thought the taste monotonous (where was the sear!), and the texture not as smooth as I would have preferred. The apple pie saved the course for me though. You know how they say in most relationships there is usually a reacher and a settler? It was evident here that the foie gras was the reacher and the apple pie the settler. The filo pastry was so light and flaky, while the glazed caramelised apples provided a great sweet and sour taste. Pity about the foie gras, but major props for the craft that went into making the apple pie.
After having feasted on all of the above, the servers brought out the pièce de résistance: the Herb Coated Veal Tenderloin ($42), made from milk-fed calves under 20 weeks old, accompanied by a side of potato gratin and butter-tossed greens. The veal was accompanied by a port jus, and covered in a herb coating which Executive Chef Braecker told us was an homage to the great French chef and restaurateur, Roger Vergé, who died earlier this year at the age of 85.
I really loved this – the veal was ridiculously tender and flavourful, and the herb coating paired very well with the slightly salty taste of the meat. The port jus was robust: at once savoury and a little sweet. The butter-tossed asparagus and French beans deserve special mention here – they were so incredibly juicy, crispy, and light! It was tremendously satisfying hearing the snap as I crunched down on them. The only weak point was the potato gratin, which I thought was below average. The potato tasted a little too crunchy and undercooked, while the cheesy layer on top was a little hard and desiccated.
Finally we arrived at dessert, and I was pretty excited about Berry Fields ($18), which has a red berry and cherry mascarpone dome, Grand Marnier-soaked berries, pistachios, and yoghurt mousse.
Conceptually this dessert blew me away – we essentially got two desserts made from the same ingredients, but one in a beautiful shiny dome, and the other a deconstructed version with discrete ingredients. But Berry Fields was a bit of a letdown in texture and taste. The texture of the dome was akin to dense foam, while the taste was a little ho-hum and not tart enough for me. I also felt the biscuit in the deconstructed version a little cloying. Thankfully the blackberries and raspberries were so, plump and juicy, bursting refreshingly as I bit down on them. They really saved the dish from being a total disappointment.
Overall I thought most of the dishes served at ADHD were clear winners. The fish and red meat courses were very strong, and merited repeat orders in the future. I have no doubt that Executive Chef Braecker will continue pulling from drawing on his extensive experience to keep coming up with delightful meals for ADHD patrons. I for one will definitely be bringing more of my friends here for a great meal and ambience that can’t be beat!
Buffet Breakfast: 630am to 1030am on weekdays, and 11am on weekends
Lunch & Dinner: 12noon to 11pm daily (last order at 1030pm)
ADHD at The South Beach, 30 Beach Road, Singapore 189763