1-Michelin-Starred Marguerite Shines With an Invigorating Spring Menu
When the sliding doors of Marguerite opened, and cool, lightly perfumed air brushed over my skin, I thought to myself: “This must be God-sent.” But the real salving effect comes from chef Michael Wilson’s contemporary culinary repertoire, which focuses on provenance and produce.
Ornate little pieces, each with a little backstory, allow diners to connect to various food cultures. There’s a conical feuille de brick filled with chicken liver and foie gras parfait, anointed with boozed-up prune puree. A ‘Beef tartare’-inspired bite of chopped dry-aged Gippsland cow, mustard, chopped capers and shallots. An Algae tart shell containing diced kingfish, mackerel garum (fermented fish sauce) and seaweed vinegar topped with Amur caviar, which happens to be my favourite. And lastly, apricot leather tents and 36-month aged comte exalted with a gel of sauternes. Although the final snack highlights Wilson’s bizarre fascination with pairing fruits, cheese and sweet wines, it would have been better off with the housemade spelt sourdough and butter.
Wilson uprooted himself from his starter project and eventual one-Michelin-star establishment, Phénix in Shanghai, to move to Singapore. Here, he embarks on a collaboration with international hospitality group Unlisted Collection to develop three exciting brands, Mylo’s, Hortus and fine-dining restaurant Marguerite. “With the Puli Hotel and Spa group, we did a lot of unique designs and handcrafted things,” says Wilson. “And that has helped me to develop a mindset—a need and a want to provide for my diners an exclusive experience.” This ethos flows through the stunning main space of the restaurant where Scandinavian-style furniture, white marble tops, cowhide rugs, and handmade ceramic plates don’t just bump up the aesthetics, but set the stage for Wilson’s culinary vision.
Aside from the voguish facade, Wilson’s creatively-inflected mannerisms extend beyond the kitchen into the non-alcoholic pairing menu. Coined as the ‘Temperance’ beverage pairing, sommelier Ernest Khoo pours me a golden fluid of freshly juiced granny smith apples infused with shiso and hay. The result is a refreshing concoction that reverberates with pastoral aromas.
It finds favour with the next course, a motley crew of Dungeness crab, lettuce and cucumber. Begin with the dainty crab perched atop a cucumber meringue and finish with the ten-herb-scented lettuce gazpacho bettered with cucumber sorbet. The former is an unexpected romance novel: sweet sous vide crab peppered with mizuna, French marigold and basil form a redolent part of the narrative, while the persistent stickiness of the meringue is the powerful conclusion.
So far, Wilson not only highlights spring through its produce, but also creates his cuisine with a kind of visceral, transportive energy to showcase the nature of the season and its ensuing eating habits. This adeptness is furthered in the next dish of morel mushrooms custard served with a train of good things from spring peas to asparagus, burnt butter, lovage oil and even bear paw garlic. A young 2018 Chablis grand cru from La Manufacture proves to be the perfect match with sharp starfruit and green apple-like references, lit by just a hint of creamy texture and minerality to avert from overpowering the dish.
The seafood offerings do not veer so drastically away from the classics, but Wilson adds a curious element to each gig. The ‘pasta’ course of Caledonian blue prawn provides the framework for tender strands of tagliolini as well as the bisque mixed with lime juice, dill oil, trout roe and finger lime. Perhaps the kitchen had forgotten to factor in the falling temperature in the flower dome below the stipulated 23 degrees Celsius at sunset because the bisque is tepid.
The same issue resurfaces with the poached Patagonian toothfish. It sits sandwiched between a collection of broad beans and bronze fennel below and thin slices of pāua abalone above. An exuberant dressing of passionfruit sabayon completes this masterpiece.
Next, a duck leg and foie gras, sausage farce is stuffed fastidiously into the deboned neck of the duck, smoked and presented tableside before it goes back into the kitchen to receive a makeover.
The front of house exploits this brief intermission during which a dynamic 2014 Chateau Musar is poured. Compelling flavours of sweet cherries, oak and exotic spice stand out, and I could have done substantial damage to the bottle if it was left behind. Once again, the Aylesbury duck makes a reappearance, both loin and sausage farce presented alongside smoked plum slices and Jerusalem artichoke cooked to the point of surrender before it is finished with cream and vanilla bean.
A palate cleanser of gorgonzola dolce stuffed walnut macarons and chartreuse-infused apples dressed with galangal and yogurt espuma is provocative. But the pain perdu intoxicated in tonka bean-infused custard topped with gariguette strawberries takes the cake. Traditionally, pain perdu is an afterthought, a recovery attempt stemmed from reviving stale bread—this version is anything but.
Wilson has done an impeccable job by giving Marguerite a certain cachet in the fine-dining scene and he is a force to be reckoned with.
Dinner is priced at $248++ per person (7 Courses). A new lunch menu has been introduced at $168++ (4 courses) inclusive of snacks, spelt sourdough, mignardises and coffee & tea.