The Underground Supper Club: with Chef Paul Hallett

Just recently, I had the opportunity to attend the exclusive DBS Indulge underground supper club at the Equínox restaurant at Swissotel, featuring Chef de Cuisine Paul Hallett. As name states, this was a hush-hush event, kept well confined within the perilously high four walls of our glass faced room on the 69th floor of the Swissotel. The guests, a mixture of media and loyal club members, all dressed to the nines, looked ready to be swept away by the exquisite creations and nouvelle cuisine of Chef Paul Hallett as they took their place at the lavishly decked out long table that graced the middle of the room. 

While waiting for the entourage of guests to arrive, we tucked into some of the dainty canapes that were being swivelled across the room. The Shropshire blue, caramelised onion, walnut tickling my senses with its combination of assertive blue cheese and sweet browned onions. The heirloom tomato, kalamata olive, preserved lemon crackers impressed with it's minimalist amalgamation of flavors that worked so seamlessly together. More worldly, the last canape was a pretty little collon-shaped package of compressed watermelon, chickpeas and fried buckwheat. A tell-tale sign of the Chef's attention to detail, his previous fine-dining kitchen experience surfacing in a radically impeccable hor d'oeuvre. Playing with fire, I had my first glass of 'Brut' Imperial and I knew this night was going to be an epicurean feast sustained by the light of alcoholic indulgence.

Unlike the lavish affair of canapes presented to us prior to seating, the breads were a shoddy affair with dried crusty mounds that were a little tough to chew on. Save for the fantastic slabs of assorted butters on our side plates, I lapped them up greedily with the help of some tough love.

The show took off to a great start when Chef Paul Hallett made his first appearance, like an awkward giraffe looming over the inappropriately height ed table, he explained his definitive inspiration behind his first dish, the Tuna Tartar, roused by the love for his wife and her Asian roots. 

Here, the tuna tartar takes to the tropics with it's lush pairing of chilled coconut and lemongrass juice. Chef Paul Hallett explains that ginger is used instead of the usual suspect lemon for the touch of acidity while salt is dismissed in place of soy and sesame oil for seasoning. The result would be pertinent, uber fresh tuna chunks with seasoning as subtle as giggles, with a splay of ancho chilli oil for a bit of heat over the top, this is balanced out with a dosage of  creamy kaffir lime coconut sauce. A touch of saltiness from the ostretta caviar from France is the final flourish.

The next course of Duck Consomme had an uncommon ambrosial and herbal note that tantalised the taste buds, the braised duck leg truffle ravioli however failed to impress with it's thick overcooked pasta disagreeing with the ethereal quality of the broth.

The Slow cooked Foie Gras played a different tune with a dazzling thick slab of goose liver, golden and crusty edged, showered with candied hazelnuts, flanked by spiced pain perdu and a dollop of rhubarb puree. This was an untainted beauty that stole my heart. Pair this with a mild mannered Bastanich Plus, 2011, Italy for some heart warming moments.

After all that had been said and done, the Miso Black Cod still remains the star player of the night. Chef Paul waves a refined hand over the plates to conjure an eye catching dish of succulent cod with a brilliantly caramelised top, braised daikon and endive serenades the congregation, dainty dots of edamame puree are placed with random precision, contributing to the savoury flavors of the dish. This is paired with a glass of Silverado Chardonnay, 2011, Napa Valley USA.

I have a particular soft spot for dessert wines and the final Inniskillin, late autumn riesling 2010 did not disappoint. While nursing my glass, the waitress furtively slips a dicey looking service vehicle in front of me, the warm inhalation of scented rooibos tea piquing my interest instantly. The poached william pear warms the tummy with a light footprint, the lemongrass sorbet adding a delightful tang. All in all, a simple, well executed dessert that does not over complicate things.

My first experience at the DBS Indulge underground supper club event was a bamboozling event filled with delicacies, jovial conversations and memorable moments etched into my mind (filming included!) Major thanks to Julia for the invite and Clara for your warm hosting! 

Level 69
Equinox Complex
Swissotel The Stamford
S (178882)
t: 6837 3322

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