Bacchanalia @ Hong Kong Street: $48 Set Lunches

Award winning restaurant, Bacchanalia has since 'cleaned up its act' after moving from the mysterious and moody hangout in a Masonic hall in Coleman street to Hong Kong Street in July 2015. Sporting drastically modern vibes, for a change, with the kitchen transported into the dining room, the connection between chef's work and diner's gluttony for excellent fare is further strengthened. 

Still, looking past the metamorphosis, the same tenacity lies in the skills of the chefs; and no doubt, Bacchanalia would be your best bet for a special occasion meal. In fact, my birthday privileges scored me a lovely Gin and Tonic inspired sorbet dessert complimentary from Chef Ivan Brehm after pleasantries were exchanged at the end.

But rewinding back to lunch, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the affable price tag of their 3-course set lunch. At $48 per pop, this buys you a remarkable insight into innovative top-notch food, in the running for a Michelin star (I hope). Book ahead and maybe, just perhaps you'll be granted a Chef's table, right alongside all the tussle in the kitchen. Otherwise, there's always the tables straddling the busy service counter and kitchen pass or the larger, more aloof unit in the deeper end. 

We started off with a lovely carafe of Gruner Veltliner Nussberg 2014, with such delicate flavors at play, we were certain that the piquant choice of wine with hints of citrus zest joined by delicate mineral notes in the nose would be the perfect companion to our meal. Then again, who would have known that I would enjoy this so much, the slicks of ripened stone fruit at the end cutting through the initial crispness with a veil of exotic juiciness - a splendid comrade to my starter of Scallops (supplement $7) served with borlotti beans and cacao. Covered with a blanket of buttery emulsion with hints of seafood and beurre noisette, the thoughtful dash of cocoa powder adds a slight astringency and magical enhancing of the bed of cream sauce. Then there's the Chilled Cappellini Pasta - shio kombu, true blue umami dressing, charred celery and tarragon. One bite in and you'll realise that a pair of deft hands and expert seasoning has resulted in this small plate that serenades the arrival of spring. Definitely one of the best chilled pastas I've ever had.

The stars of the day were apparently the starters, and the mains meander into pedestrian quality with there being just too diverse a crowd of ingredients on a plate. His Risotto Milanese was prepared flawlessly, the aged carnorli rice in a glorious shade of pumpkin yellow from the infusion of Iranian saffron sponged up the exquisite stock lovingly, yielding terrific mouth feels with every spoonful. Whilst, my Barramundi, allowed for the convivial adjournment of pan seared barramundi, piquant spiced salsa verde complimented by an earthy waft from freshly shaved black truffle.

Even the palate cleansers were unworldly constructions that vouched for the kitchen's fastidious attention to detail. A spoonful of homemade Basil Marshmellow and an accompanying cube of compressed dried pineapple sous vide in caramel and served with aged balsamic, braces the palate for an impending assault from the desserts.

Needless to say, desserts were a grand affair, and I stopped nothing short of closely attempting to lick the plate, of the remaining pineapple caramel dotted around. Heirloom Pineapple poached in Caramel, pistachio and white chocolate crumble with Tahitian vanilla ice cream. The tiny layer of fromage blanc with coriander and lime infused within, definitely setting the tone for this tropical dessert. I might go as far as to say, this was the BEST DESSERT I've had in 2015. Lunch cumulates in a smack down of flavors for him as well with the Dark Chocolate Ganache paving the way for great things. Contained snugly in a buttery pastry case, grapefruit jam grounds the rich mixture as the assam tea ice cream goes to work on rendering a mystical smokiness. 

One more to thing to laud praises about after dining at Bacchanalia is the service - unobtrusive, no airs with immense finesse in the art of invisibility. The wait staff, do it right and do it good. Beaming cheek to cheek, the love fostered for Brehm's respect and resourcefulness for food in such a short span of time, left me on a high for the rest of the day. One can't help but sneak in a reminiscent grin even till now.

39 Hong Kong Street
t: 6509 1453

Operating Hours:
Lunch: Tues - Fri: 12pm - 2 30pm
Dinner: Mon - Sat: 6pm - 10 30pm

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