Esquire (Singapore) - - Contents -

He was un­sat­is­fied. Chef Fer­nando Aré­valo—beanstalked and sport­ing a per­pet­ual light five o’clock shadow— knew that he could do bet­ter; that he could el­e­vate this culi­nary field to some­thing spe­cial. This tra­vail—if suc­cess­ful—would make him stand out but it is al­ways the nail that sticks out that in­vites the ham­mer.

‘Change’ would be a dogged theme for Aré­valo and it would con­tinue to be so for his restau­rant, Pre­lu­dio. En­vi­sion­ing his restau­rant as a novel, each chap­ter will act as a theme to stoke the cre­ativ­ity of Aré­valo and his staff. His first chap­ter? Mono­chrome.

But it’s more than just the in­spi­ra­tion of black and white. While the dé­cor and staff’s uni­form are in ac­cor­dance with the theme, the food menu and wine list are stripped of their dis­tract­ing ‘hues’ to re­veal their fun­da­men­tal selves.

The al­co­hol is cho­sen for the kind of ter­roir it flour­ished from—from the dark vol­canic grounds to the chalk-rich fields. Dishes are not cen­tred on a cer­tain re­gion, af­ter all, how can you shackle the imag­i­na­tion? Util­is­ing the Au­thor’s Cui­sine, where a chef’s cre­ativ­ity is un­bri­dled to pro­duce meals like Elude— white beet­root, bur­rata, wal­nut crum­ble and dill-mar­i­nated cu­cum­ber are mixed in to a yo­gurt foam and ac­com­pa­nied with young primeur sturia caviar and fol­lowed by Al­lude… which looks like the last dish. Con­cocted and plated to spark a sense of déjà vu, within the mush­room potato mousse is a med­ley of fer­mented mush­room, bone mar­row and thyme crou­tons; a side of Osci­etra Sturia caviar.

There’s also La Cortina, an ag­nolotti pasta. Named af­ter the room Aré­valo stayed in when he vis­ited the pro­ducer of the 25-year-old bal­samic vine­gar that is used in the dish, the pasta is al dente with a but­ter­nut squash and amaretto fill­ing and sits in a lovely Parme­san sauce.

The pres­ence of fun never strays from the se­ri­ous note of the ef­fort that goes into each dish. It’s fool­hardy to think in ab­so­lutes—it’s not black or white; there’s no right or wrong—but in this case, Pre­lu­dio gets a unan­i­mous stamp of ap­proval.

182 Ce­cil Street, Frasers Tower, #03-01/02White Opal.


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