Hubert Burda Media

Sinful Dining from a Saint

Reservations are the only way you’ll be getting a seat at Scotts 27 by Le Saint Julien.

I’m in a room (the Heritage Room, it’s called) all decked out in oriental fittings and furnishings. The vibe is one of complete comfort, as if I’m in a friend’s home; except this is a chic, black-and-white restaurant along Scotts Road.
Scotts 27 is what it’s called and the concept, a private-dining-room-only fine dining establishment. Its full capacity comes up to less than 30 persons, with guests able to host dinners in one of its three rooms (two small ones for four and six, and a larger one to accommodate a maximum of 16). In fact, there isn’t a main dining area; Scotts 27 is designed to give you the same level of privacy you will have in your own home — perfect for business people looking to seal that important deal away from prying eyes.
It’s not yet time for dinner so I wait in the living room and chat with husband-and-wife team Julien Bompard and Edith Lai, the consultants behind the restaurant, while soothing instrumental music plays in the background and we munch on home-made popcorn.
If their names are familiar, it’s because the duo used to be the owners of the well-loved French restaurant Le Saint Julien. It closed its doors at Fullerton Waterboat House for good last January because the pair wanted to venture into consultancy work — and they have, with Scotts 27 becoming their first project.
Though Singapore has seen a surge of private dining restaurants, they usually have a reservations-only practice but still seat guests in communal rooms. Scotts 27 takes things a step further. “We make sure the rooms [are fit] to conduct business with more privacy and personalised service,” Lai shares. They are sufficiently spaced apart so guests will not be disturbed by the conversation in the next room.
Inspiring the couple to go down this path is the unique building the restaurant is housed in. “The property is one of the rare black-and-white houses left in Singapore and ideal to open as a restaurant business [so] we want to create a different experience with a home-styled concept,” she goes on to say.
The kitchen is headed by Executive Chef Bryan Hooi, who was previously a sous chef with Le Saint Julien. Every month, the talented young chef, who hails from Malaysia, creates a new menu with Bompard fine-tuning behind the scenes. Dine there often and Hooi is equally happy to tweak the line-up for the sake of variety.
But enough of conversation making. I am ushered from the living area to the dining table — in the same room — to start the meal proper. Amuse bouche is rarely a course that makes diners sit up and take notice, but here, things are a bit different. The Scotts Garden is a signature dish created solely by Hooi. Inspired by the greenery surrounding the restaurant, the beautifully crafted dish is a mix of colours and flavours to open up your palate before the mains.
On where he gets his ideas from, the 34-year-old shares his philosophy: “I want my food to give an impact; it should be as flavourful as it looks. So from the dish, I think about how to [enhance]the flavour, then I’ll plate it to make it more interesting.”
Needless to say, the subsequent dishes are also a treat for the eyes and taste buds. And it becomes clear that Hooi enjoys taking a different spin to popular French dishes. The Foie Gras Kataifi is slow-cooked then oven-baked so the goose liver dish isn’t too rich and creamy, with the kataifi adding an extra crunch. Similarly, the Duck à la Royale is served in Java coffee sauce to mask the strong duck aroma that some diners may be sensitive to.
The chilled smoked Spanish Carabinero prawn is a unique head-to-tail dish. The coral head of the prawn and its shell is grinded into sauce while the legs are deep-fried until they are crispy. The body of the prawn is already slightly salty on its own, so the yuzu jelly helps sweeten things up for a delectable balance.
With the roasted Atlantic dory, chef Bryan decides to give it a special twist. Usually served with seafood sauce, he changes it especially for that evening to squid ink oyster sauce instead. Blended with the mollusc, the gravy is richer and tastier, which complements deliciously with the lighter flavour of the fish.
To end the meal, the layered chocolate cake is a lovely combination of sweet and sour, with orange sauce and berries coulis. But the surprise tree-shaped dark chocolate dessert is what takes my breath away. Made with soft chocolate jelly, it is carefully and delicately moulded into a tree — just like those we see lining our streets — complete with branches. The finished, beautiful culinary work of art is coloured with yuzu and raspberry marshmallows, passion fruit pate de fruit and popping candy (I’m quite sure I’ve sated my sweet tooth for the month).
Such surprises are examples of what Hooi enjoys doing for guests, giving that personalised attention Scotts 27 promises. On my way out, something tells me I may return soon for yet another cosy experience at this black-and-white that I can certainly call my second home.
Scotts 27 by Le Saint Julien,
27 Scotts Road; Tel: 6737 0895