Wine & Dine - - RESTAURANTS -

Serv­ing Chi­nese and French cui­sine, Racine, the all­day res­tau­rant at newly opened Sof­i­tel Sin­ga­pore City Cen­tre, has fam­i­lies in mind. “We serve Chi­nese and French cui­sine so the younger peo­ple can have French if they want to, and at the same time, the older folk can have Chi­nese food if they pre­fer. This way, the fam­ily can dine to­gether,” says Jean-Charles Dubois, the ho­tel’s ex­ec­u­tive chef. (Many of us would re­mem­ber him as the former chef-owner of res­tau­rant Balzac, with its peer­less shoe­string fries.) And what a de­light­ful place for get-to­geth­ers: the sprawl­ing res­tau­rant fea­tures high ceil­ings, floor-to-ceil­ing glass win­dows that let in a flood of nat­u­ral light, and level ground through­out which makes it wheel­chair-friendly.

From the French menu, the lob­ster bisque ($28) makes a pretty starter. It’s light and creamy in tex­ture, but richly flavoured with the sweet­ness of lob­ster, and livened up with pe­tite ravi­oli filled with em­men­tal. The bone­less pan-fried frog legs ($26) is also worth hav­ing, with its ten­der meat nicely com­ple­mented by a coat­ing of aro­matic pink gar­lic and pars­ley. For mains, the clas­sic wagyu beef cheek ($38)—with all its sweet, caramelised, and fall­ing off the bone unc­tu­ous­ness— was ex­cel­lent, and beg­ging for a good glass of hearty red wine. Slow-cooked for 48 hours, it is served with chef Dubois’ creamy, light truf­fled mashed pota­toes, an­other de­lec­ta­ble carry-over from his Balzac days.

While chef Dubois helms the French kitchen, chef An­drew Chong takes care of the Chi­nese fare.

Have the Nonya-style stir-fried cala­mari (from $58), redo­lent with Asian spices just mildly hot, and draped in creamy co­conut milk-based gravy. The sweet and sour pork is a clas­sic case of do­ing some­thing sim­ple very well in­deed: the kurobuta pork used en­sures it is ten­der and flavour­ful, and the sauce is nicely bal­anced. Of the Chi­nese dishes, the star would be the frog legs stir-fried in spicy Szechuan salt, Szechuan pep­per­corns and gen­er­ous hand­fuls of dried chillies

($58). Pi­quant, slightly fiery and with a rel­a­tively mild but dis­tinct numb­ing qual­ity typ­i­cal of Szechuan cui­sine, they make a most de­lec­ta­ble treat.

Desserts are pos­i­tively de­light­ful, play­ful in its com­po­si­tion and beau­ti­fully pre­sented. Have the zesty yuzu tart ($16) with lime but­ter monte, crum­ble and rice crispies, or the mousse au choco­late ($16), com­pris­ing Val­rhona mousse, chan­tilly and crispy pearls. Wash it down with cof­fee from its Ne­spresso bar.

Boast­ing 180-de­gree view of the Tan­jong Pa­gar neigh­bour­hood be­low, Racine also has its own api­ary to pro­vide fresh honey, its own herb gar­den, im­pres­sive live sta­tions, and a state-of-the-art Weinz oven for freshly baked pas­tries and breads. Break­fast prom­ises to be an ex­pan­sive treat, and plans are afoot for Sun­day cham­pagne brunches. Mean­while, worth not­ing is its at­trac­tively priced $38 week­day set lunches, and from now un­til 30 Novem­ber, every four pay­ing guests for din­ner will get a com­pli­men­tary bot­tle of red wine. —SEW

9 Wal­lich Street, Sin­ga­pore 078885. Tel: 6428 5000

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