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There’s a lot we can appreciate about our current slower pace of life. But that doesn’t mean our desire for adventure and new experiences has gone away, right? I don’t know about you, but lately I’ve seen this manifest in an increased desire for fine-dining experiences. A three-hour escape with multiple courses in a luxurious restaurant is perhaps one version of a 2021 holiday.
With this in mind, I was really excited to visit Michelin-starred Restaurant Petrus at Island Shangri-La to try their new seasonal set menu. I’d visited once before about three years ago for an event, but I had yet to experience dinner as a guest.
In my opinion, fine dining is about the experience as much as the food. In this respect, Petrus (and the hotel overall) really shines. The service was kind, attentive and knowledgeable, but also proactive in a gentle way. They noticed how you were doing and tried to cater to your needs. If you’re looking for a special, not-snooty experience, Petrus is a good choice.
The new seasonal set menu
Petrus may have a classic vibe, but the food is thoroughly contemporary. Since 2019, the kitchen has been helmed by Executive Chef Uwe Opocensky (who oversees all of Island Shangri-La’s culinary offerings) and Chef de Cuisine Romain Dupeyre. Chef Opocensky may need no introduction, having been in Hong Kong for years, first as the executive chef at the Mandarin Oriental and most recently at his now-closed eponymous restaurant, Uwe. Chef Dupeyre is a newer arrival, landing for the job at Petrus after having cut his teeth at fine-dining establishments across France (including being part of the opening team at Shangri-La Paris), Ireland, Thailand and Australia.
What have the chefs come up with this spring? My friend and I each ordered the five-course menu ($1,588/person) – three and four courses are also available – and chose different options for each course so that we could try more dishes.
Before diving in, we started with a lovely bread basket filled with mini baguettes, sourdough slices, olive-oil brioches and, my favourite, laugen (pretzel) rolls.
Then came the amuse-bouches: beet tart, scallop “stone” and mimolette- and truffle-stuffed “wine cork”. It was nice being hit with a combination of sophisticated and homestyle tastes right from the start.
We really enjoyed the curry flavours in the Norwegian king crab with cauliflower mousse and caviar (+$288), spooning the luscious ingredients on humble waffles.
The langoustine with kumquat and leek (+$488) has quite a hefty supplement, but if you’re looking to splurge on a dish, make it this one. The langoustine was perfect – cooked but maintaining a fresh, wobbly texture. I loved the unusual combination of bittersweet kumquat and buttery leek, adding dimensions of flavour but not overpowering the sweet flesh of the langoustine.
The beautiful endive salad with radicchio, truffle and smoke is served two ways: braised and fresh. There are lots of rich, umami-strong flavours in this dish, including the addition of chicken truffle cream.
This grillled Spanish red prawn (+$200) is one of Petrus’ signatures. The head is grilled to well done, but the body is kept medium rare. It’s served with fermented red prawn paste and grilled sourdough for mopping up the juices.
In this dish of turbot with boudin noir, celeriac whip and curry saffron sauce, the homemade boudin noir (black sausage) was buttery and mild, allowing the fish to shine.
The lobster ravioli with spinach and truffle (+$188) showcased a gorgeous chargrilled Brittany lobster, its claws becoming the centre of the ravioli. If you’re a fan of sauces and sides, you’ll particularly enjoy this dish because it comes with onion purée, chicken truffle lobster sauce and lobster foam. They all complemented each other and resulted in otherworldly bites. Not an easy dish to create, this is also worth the splurge.
When our mains arrived, I realised we probably should have gone lighter on the earlier courses – because these stunners were rich, starting with the beef with Café de Paris, Swiss chard and bone-marrow jus. This cut is the calotte, or cap (top of the rib-eye), which is tender but surprisingly sinewy. The braised beef-cheek-stuffed Swiss chard with Parmesan was an unexpected indulgent side, as was the bone-marrow candle melting all over the garlic, thyme and breadcrumbs – a unique take on Café de Paris sauce by Chef Opocensky.
It was back to sophisticated hominess with this delicious combination of tender pigeon with foie gras, chicken mousse and pigeon truffle jus.
For dessert, the pear tart was very light and fresh, featuring fresh pear atop a buckwheat tea biscuit and banana sponge base.
No matter how full you might be at this point, don’t miss the Hokkaido cream cheesecake. It’s soft and runny, almost like a pudding, and incredibly addictive. It doesn’t need the blueberry ice cream or oat tea biscuits that accompany it, but both were delicious – have them with the cheesecake or alone.
Our meal ended with some petits fours: canelé, passion-fruit chocolate, blackcurrant jelly square and madeleine.
Petrus’ decor may be a bit dated (though still elegant), but don’t let that stop you from visiting. The food is truly top-notch – inventive and crafted expertly. Those who enjoy powerful flavours and unusual combinations will especially enjoy the experience. In addition, the JL Coquet Limoges porcelain tableware used is beautiful. We visited on a weekday evening, but I think Petrus would be a great choice for a celebration meal – choose your dishes and then let the kitchen and staff whisk you away to culinary heaven.
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.
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