Monday, March 19, 2012

Novus, National Museum (Restaurant Week)

 Tucked away inside the National Museum, Novus is somewhat of a hidden gem. If not for our well-timed day off and the start of Restaurant Week (aha! it is all planned well), we would probably not have been enticed to give this place a go.


 I was genuinely surprised and pleased by the interior of the restaurant. Here are high ceilings and mirrors and funky light fixtures! My kind of place, though I felt a bit under-dressed in my plain green dress and sandals (there were some other tables occupied by corporate-types and ladies-of-leisure-types).

 The Restaurant Week offering - Creations by Executive Chef Stephan Zoisl ( who previously worked at world renown The Fat Duck) - is priced at $40++ for a 3 course set lunch.

Prelude to the gastronomic wonders we would soon sample: a bread basket served with slab of Novus-'branded' butter and a small platter of olives.

 Bread was fresh and soft, the kind you could go on eating for ages! My favourite was the dark (rye?) multigrain.

 Bread was awesome shit! Four types and each great in its own right, the dark rye and mini-batard were my favourites. We weren't quite sure how to consume the olives but just eating a little along with the bread was quite the awesome pairing.

{ Amuse-Bouche }
Some molecular gastronomy

 Not long after, we were served the amuse bouche. Forgive me for not recalling what this was exactly, but this was really a tremendous and complex dish. My basic description would be some foie-gras-infused jelly with celeriac foam on top. This is unlike ANYthing I've ever had - unfamiliar flavours and textures all created excited confusion / confused excitement in my mouth. While I am impressed by the uniqueness of this - and very much appreciated the chef's style and efforts - I'm not entirely sure if I liked this much.

 Completed missed what the nice waitress said this was, but this curious food item was ... curious. Well but it did serve it's purpose of pre-empting us for what's to come!

 I really love how they have little cards detailing what you are about to put into your mouth. It's a good reference for identifying ingredients/flavours.

{ Tuna Carpaccio }
Wasabi mayonnaise, soy caviar, dill, yuzu gel, oyster leaves

 Tuna Carpaccio was plated in a very interesting way. Tuna was sliced oh-so thinly and decorated with a variety of things that boggled the mind. Soy caviar was very curious, but especially mind boggling were the oyster leaves. They really tasted like oysters! What sorcery is this?!

 Tuna was fresh, and the soy caviar - a molecular-gastronomy-feat it was - was a really curious sensation. That and the wasabi mayo really made it sorta like an alternate take at enjoying sashimi. Unfortunately for me I didn't quite taste the oyster in the oyster leaf :(

 Two words which I would never put together - duck tea - is on the menu and cannot be resisted.

{ Duck Tea }
Duck consomm√©, quail egg, trumpet & brown enoki mushrooms, smoked duck breast, black truffle salsa

 The waiter poured the steaming consomme from a teapot upon serving. I really loved the earthiness of the mushrooms and truffle in the broth. Every spoonful was rich and comforting. Smoked duck underneath was excellent too - tender and flavourful. I think this was executed really well.

  Good quality consomme is an inherently difficult thing to prepare, and it was indeed sweet and rich yet not cloying. Smoked duck was perfect - just a little fatty and the right texture, and beautifully sweetened by the consomme. We lapped up every ounce of black truffle we could find!

 We only had to wait a few moments before our mains arrived. Having craved mushrooms (?) just that morning, I pounced on the mushroom gnocchi without hesitation.

{ Mushroom Gnocchi }
Creamed seasonal mushrooms, potato gnocchi, thyme, parmesan cheese

 Oh wow. This blew me away! Here is a substantial plate of potato gnocchi literally avalanched by what seemed like 70 kinds of mushrooms (including a few I'd never seen before), soaking luxuriantly in an utterly creamy cheesy sauce. The smell of the mushroom and parmesan - Jesus. And so many gnocchi(s?)! I gobbled this down mercilessly until about halfway until it got a bit too good for my own good, lol. Seriously this is amazing. I'm throwing my money at the picture on screen now.

  Wow jesus christ - normally I'd stay away from ordering pastas (less bang for your buck usually!) but this was ... so so so rich. The natural earthiness of the mushrooms frolicking in the light cheese sauce just enhanced the sauce to the next realm of enlightenment. The sauce was really, that, ****ing, good. Awfully generous with the interesting mushroom selection and gnocchi at just the right texture, my only gripe was it does get too gao if you solo this, so please do share!

 Fish of the day is snow cod - not printed on menu as you'd gather this changes daily.

{ Fish of the Day }
Pan seared snow cod, squid ink fettucini, saffron sauce

 Going against my grain I ordered fish (gasp!) for once as the only other main offered was duck confit, and after two meals and donuts in Batam I felt I needed a bypass. The fish was so so so so so so so so soft - the slightest touch of my fork would cause the meat to flake. Now I LOVE cod steamed chinese style with it's natural sweetness and high oil content, but unfortunately I couldn't taste either in this and I'm not quite sure why. Fettucine while awesomely al-dente and the pretty saffron sauce, were both mild flavours so I felt the dish as a whole was pretty mild.

 I really liked this too, though not in the same intensity and manner that I enjoyed the gnocchi. This was a lot less heavy and more delicate. The cod was incredibly soft that we kept wondering aloud how this could have been mortally prepared. Fettucine was done al dente and had subtle sea-saltiness. Honestly I thought the saffron sauce went really well with the pasta and fish. While this is not really a 'remarkable' dish (was expecting a bit more at play in showcasing a little edge), as a sum of its parts this couldn't have been better.

At this point we were quite filled up, but had our Dessert Stomachs ready to go for the end of the meal. We had our eyes on the dessert trolley from the very moment we stepped in! 

{ Dessert trolley! }
 You can choose 3 different types of dessert from the trolley. By the time we ordered there were 6 kinds on the trolley - so just as well we ordered one of each to share between us. We noted with disappointment that what looked like creme brulee on a spoon was no longer available - oh well!

{ Clockwise from cookie : Double Chocolate Cookie, Lemon Cake, Chocolate Muffin, Carrot Cake, Cheese Cake, Red Velvet (centre) }

 Overall, the cakes were nice but not very memorable. Except maybe the cheese cake and lemon cake for me. Red velvet was not bad but it was lemony instead of cream-cheese-y. Chocolate cookie and muffin was okaay. Carrot cake was too creamy and not enough cake.

 Aye I too felt the best was the cheese cake and the rest weren't too memorable sadly :( 

 Not in photo is a smooth and aromatic cup of Americano which paired nicely with the cakes and ended the entire meal just right.

 Really have to give Novus brownie points for the little touches and details like this. Every diner was given a thank-you cupcake to bring home after the meal. How quaint and thoughtful! I wish more restaurants were like Novus :)

  We've heard on multiple occasions of their super-duper-awesome-imba-gobangwall Valrhona Chocolate Test - unfortunately it was only in the dinner menu and we were too full to ask if they had it ala carte :(

 I am extremely happy with my dining experience here. Food was divine, service was lovely. I would even..

All the things - GIVE NOVUS ALL THE PAWS

Novus Restaurant & Bar
National Museum of Singapore 
93 Stamford Road

View Larger Map

Main website :
Restaurant week : Novus is a "star"-ed restaurant offering $40++ set lunch or $55 set dinners.
HGW Link (59% recommended at time of writing) :
Rating (out of 4) : 

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