Table 65: Come For Food, Stay For Dutch Courage
A trip to Sentosa for a fine-dining experience would never have been part of my agenda on a weekday. Call me biased, but I often associate crossing the island to be an extremely vexing and unnecessarily stressful experience. Oh trust me, Table 65 had big shoes to fill by devoiding me of my pyjamas and Korean face mask on a taxing Thursday evening.
To be fair, Table 65 has achieved success before as the brainchild of Dutch chef Richard van Oostenbruggae of Michelin-starred restaurant 212 in Amsterdam; the cross-sea expansion has led to several of Chef Oostenbruggae’s right-hand men spilling over onto the island’s new ‘fine-casual’ venture. It’s quite a show. The stimulating interactive experience derived from the open kitchen experience and the deployment of custom cutlery drawers encourages self-service between diners—breaking down several fine dining stigmas. You’ll be kept entertained till the very first amuse bouche is served.
The kitchen eases you into the degustation menu with warm mini baguettes served alongside a dish of butter, akita pepper and rock salt. A crisp Maison Trimbach Riesling is poured, it’s aged just a wee bit such that kerosene characteristics emerge, a sniff breaks out notes of fresh lime and ripened pears. You demolish that with the trifecta of fish starters. Cold smoked horse mackerel and passionfruit ceviche is given an Asian spin, titivated with coconut and calamansi. There’s a jelly of tomato consommé and marinated sardines with a trail of lovage oil in its wake and finally cured mackerel with tomato strawberry vinaigrette enriched with creamy tarragon. It’s all very insightful stuff, exquisite in a way that’s not too showboaty yet compelling enough as an introduction to the innovative cuisine.
Table 65’s schtick is simple: never make it easy for guests to guess what’s in the dish. Hence the ‘Os a moelle’—smoked herring bone is fashioned into a ‘bone marrow’ and stuffed with veal tartare. The snag of the day, a luscious sauce made of bone marrow and fresh lala clams. The dish hits you in all the right places—highlighting the punchy, paunchy umami of cockles with a teensy bit of beluga caviar for the supporting act.
The seafood journey continues with hairpin turns and sharp inclines. Ravioli of imperial Dutch oysters is enveloped in a briny veal shank and shellfish veloute. It’s evident the kitchen embraces land and sea marriages of the most unorthodox kind. The scatter of toasted hazelnut intensifying the whole comforting business. More coastal interlopers arrive in the form of Mozambique langoustines poached in duck fat. The flesh maintains bounce and a shy hint of coffee piques, the mike drop in the form of lemon zest helps the diner to reimagine how refreshing a langoustine can be.
I interrupt the degustation breakdown with a special mention to the wine pairing option at Table 65. If you’re usually one to take to a full bottle option over the deliberate pairing, think twice, the innovative programme here is one that will take you through plush options such as the white plum filled Henri Bourgeois Les Baronnes Sancerre to the voluptuous Argentinian spirited CARO from Catena and Rothschild. Their profiles tease and question the dishes, precisely what it should be doing instead of merely filling in the spaces, mindlessly.
The Turbot with choucroute hugged by a glorious broth composed from smoked eel, chicken thigh and oxidised wine rendered at 95 degrees Celsius was divine. One fork in and I was hooked. The turbot’s richness of flavour, firmness and sheer juiciness perfected via skilled cooking methods. Umbria winter truffle is brought to the table under a transparent cloche and you gawk as it’s shaved liberally over the dish. Despite it being an accompaniment, you’re fully appreciative for the opportunity to cup the prized possession, under the watchful eyes of the chefs regardless.
Table 65 approaches the pastures with a duck dish. What’s intriguing about this dish, is it’s throwback to the Singapore context and its +65 references—locally sourced from Toh Thye San farm. It’s complemented by a slew of sauces that you probably won’t recognise or identify with, blueberry aigre-doux and mole madre. And to be honest, those would appear as oxymorons since the kitchen made the rookie mistake of not warming the plates prior to serving.
This is quickly rectified with the next course of pan-seared Foie gras served in a light broth of seaweed. It’s an intense affair, umami-filled, enlivened by umeboshi. God, I want it again.
Desserts are the most cheffy moments. What appears to be an apple core sits under a transparent blown sugar dome on a bed of puff pastry. An exquisite package that’s no less Instagram-worthy than it is tasty. Apple sorbet is introduced to a smashing walnut crumble and finally salted caramel, because that can never hurt. The pastry team pulls out all the stops with the last dessert of kumquats bathed in a consommé of tangerine, honey and rosemary. It is a plate of spring and childhood memories of sticky sour candy, accompanied by a Rheingau sweet wine—creamy, malty and perfectly gluggable.
Table 65 will not be to everyone’s taste but it one of my favourite meals of 2019 so far. It is bold at a time when the restaurant world can be cagey. So, back to the topic of traumatic Sentosa visits, yes, it is far away, but it’s worth the trip.
Ladies Night 3-course menu is available on Thursday at $98++ with free flow Prosecco
Tasting Menus are priced at $148++ (5 Courses) and $218 (8 Courses)