Bacchanalia goes the Seasonal route with their New Menus

There isn't any fancy pleasures more profound than a good slice of sourdough in the affable company of room temperature butter. The new Bacchanalia and I, got off to a good start with the impressionable introduction that involved one, too many bubbly slices christened with a firm crispy crust, singing a resounding sour note to the salty harmony of seaweed butter. And this was no ordinary seaweed butter, it's textural landscape undulating with pops of umami, as if with the hum of sea grapes. If you're one to judge a fine-dining establishment by its complimentary bread, Bacchanalia will you make you very very happy.

Bacchanalia, has recently seen a change of hands to the Ebb and Flow Group; and with that has committed a serious budget (and time) to switching up the menus to a seasonal inspired menu that expounds the greatest of ingredients as centre of its conversation. I for one, remain reserved. The last thing we need in our scene of fine-dining is a restaurant that is orchestrated around inordinate ingredients sourced from half way round the world (never mind the carbon footprint) and served at equally preposterous pricing. If it wanted to impress, it all boiled down to ingenuity and the ability for the kitchen to push through the hype to deliver 'understandable' quality. Besides, the type of diners that come here (voguish), don't eat a huge amount - hence the 3 course working lunches and 3 course dinners.

Still, Bacchanalia is very beautiful. It is peachy-toned, flatteringly lit, capacious, with an open kitchen service counter up front offering all manner of highly snappable edible moments.

The food, tho, was a a study of biege, browns and whites. The absence of vivacity, a perturbing detail that camouflages into the muted backdrop. Yet looking past this parallelism, the proof is in the pudding, each and every dish leaving a trail of stardust in its wake.

A tiny morsel is called to our attention. The Majestic Oyster Bavarois is a lightly poached Irish oyster served atop creamy bavarois consisting whole oyster, champagne, shallot and cream emulsified to dreamy heights. Schrencki caviar is more than just an aesthetic choice, it's salty virtues amping up howls of sea-worthy flavours. We finished this in the blink of an eye.

A large puck of Saddle of Rabbit arrive wrapped in noir de bigorre ham is presented. The rivulets of horseradish veloute supply the slightest of heated rumours over the largely liver-esque overtures of the braised rabbit. The lack of texture though relinquished it to Auguste Escoffier times, and I would have much appreciated it if the ham had been seared to crispen its peripheral.

The next course comes a pinkish Wild line caught Black Bass, flanked by celeraic linguine braised in preserved truffle jus and laid in fish sauce laced with vermouth that will have you ordering an extra serving of bread to chase dribbles about the plate. It's bold and serious; it's what every pedestrian sea bass dish hopes to be when it grows up.

The kitchen turns the culinary dial to extra luxe with the Mieral Duck. A slow roasted French duck that has been aged for 6 weeks, albeit with all innards intact, resulting in a more pronounced flavor. There's razzle dazzle with accompanying sauces, a contrived incomplete circle of 70% Bitter chocolate sauce and a duck jus which boasts the meaty feast with some lovely tangy notes. The crisp skin on the gently scored duck is a thing of beauty, and complaining about its irregular cook would be tantamount to being a brat. You wash this down with a swig of Duck Consomme, painstakingly toiled over for 5 days, till reduced, overfiltered and inebriated with Armagnac Brandy. It's pleasingly decadent and swims straight into my fowl essence hall of fame (sorry Brand essence of Chicken).

We finished with what reads like a simple White Chocolate Tart but emerges to one of the most gratifying desserts I've had in a while. The misunderstood white chocolate is given a new lease on life here, after arduous caramelisation stirs up added charm in the form of toasty milk solids and familiar malty tones. The soft custard laced with cognac lends it an adultish tone. French Gariguette strawberries are fanned out and a dome of Madagascan ice cream sits above a thin crust of caramelised sugar. And if that isn't enough, clouds of champagne sabayon are draped seductively over, table side, to the beguiling locked gazes of lust from the diners. The kind that's only reserved for lovers.

Despite the smooth-sailing meal, my feelings are profoundly mixed. Dishes are harmonious, albeit with an overbearing dependence on luxury ingredients. With great produce, Chefs don't have to do much. The most challengeing part would be to resist the urge to indulge their ego - however, with such a simple formula put in play, it's hard to know how many diners will take the bait.

Bacchanalia does a 3-course working lunch set menu at $48++, Carte Blanche at $145++. While at dinner, they run a 3-course daily dinner menu at $118++, while Carte Blanche is priced at $238++.

39 Hong Kong Street
t: 6909 6360

Operating Hours:
Tues - Sat: 12 - 2pm; 6 - 9 45pm

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