Vianney Massot Restaurant: The Coco Chanel of Food Re-Immortalised
Timeless elegance or stuck in the past, call it what you want, but my stance on Vianney Massot remains clear. I loved his revamp of the old Bacchanalia—not in a mixed bag kind of way, but with a wholehearted manner that stemmed from the moment we were led from the masked sliding doors through monochrome tiled kitchens to the luxurious blue carpets and white linen laid dining room, right down to the final bit when I wiped the last crumb off my plate.
Undoubtedly, under the tutelage of the late Joël Robuchon for almost ten years, Chef Vianney Massot boasts of his master’s pedigree and descent—a point most abused and trampled upon when references were built during the initial reveal. But what the talented 27-year-old chef brandishes is an admirable zeal for the pursuit of perfection teamed with an undeniable charisma that lends itself to the esprit de diablerie of resplendent dishes put forth. Sure, the lofty and slightly grandiloquent surroundings make it a catnip for stuffed wallets and moneyed baby boomers, as I did find out on-site whilst eavesdropping (albeit with great skill since tables are set with astronomic distances between each other) on the couple next to us consisting of a young lawyer meeting his tinder date for the first time. If love wasn’t in the air, at least the food would not be a disappointment.
At Vianney Massot, all your food will be delivered under cloches. It’s a tad pompous, but it will make sense in a while. If you’re capable, throw off the shackles of your fine dining psyche, it will make the experience much more enjoyable. Even before the cushions have had time to familiarise themselves with your derriere, you’re poured a 2009 vintage Dom Pérignon and treated to a “snack” of Hokkaido sea urchin glazed with lard di colonata over sable breton. It’s a culinary explosion of a bite that leaves you hankering for more.
In true Parisian style, the bread trolley is wheeled over, inexorably languidly. You’ll start dreaming of an afterlife where warm comté cheese breads, mini baguettes and croissants are rolled to you on a brass accented trolley, quenelles of Beillevaire butter at your disposal. Hold off if you don’t want to smash your appetite. The Le Caviar Impérial makes its grand entrance and as the cloche is lifted, you mutter under your breath like a nervous boy to his prom date, “You’re beautiful”—and indeed, she’s a stunner. Under translucent lobster jelly lies a delicate crustacean cream that fills out the bottom of the shadow dish. It screams of freshness, of spring, and lavishness all in one bite. Then there’s petit pois in a few variations to highlight the change of seasons and the imperial caviar from Sologne that was received with much fanfare.
There were no uncertainties in the sating qualities of the next dish—L’asperge blanche de Provence. Asparagus and caviar are not mutually exclusive in the pricey restaurant world and Vianney Massot’s version is an exercise in layered luxury. For a moment, you’re transported to the Paris, seated in your private terrace, relishing in this dish while sipping on effervescent champagne. Enjoyable luxe of white asparagus harbouring imperial caviar doused in white asparagus coulis and showered with Sarawak black pepper, sits above yellow egg mimosa and live king crab from Hokkaido. Safe, without a doubt, but no less breathtaking.
We trickle a juicy and fruit dense pour of Domaine Didier Dagueneau 2007 down our throats in eager anticipation of the resounding knife to plate thud as you demolish the ‘volcano’ of morel mushrooms stuffed with duxelle, diced Japanese daikon, chervil, foie gras and white mushrooms. The pinnacle lolls in a delicate frothy emulsion made with morel stock and butter—utterly delicious and drinkable.
By this stage, it occurred to me that the meal would be mildly predictable in a 21st century Auguste Escoffier sort of way. That was till the Le Kinki made its debut. Seared fillet of Kinki fish arrived with a ‘crust’ of zucchini flowers and similarly assertive bed of ghanouj-inspired eggplant caviar. This all accompanied with provencal vegetables teamed with romesco sauce to emanate some Mediterranean vibes. I was not partial to the hide of zucchini flower that made portioning a challenge, but the dish exemplifies the desire of the kitchen to change its menu with the whims of the season.
Interaction is at the heart of the Vianney Massot experience, and the restaurant carries the final touches to the table. A luxurious veal jus is draped across the Le Veau de lait by the affectionate chef dressed in crisp whites. I pause for a quick 15 seconds to snap some photos before diving into the thick of the action, and garnering a new-found admiration for my partner who waited to dig in with me.
Milk-fed veal tenderloin and foie gras convene in the most harmonious and loving of marriages you have ever witnessed. Sweet yet ferociously sexy all at once, the sort of bond that would drive you crazy with envy. What appears to be a disjointed three-way action makes way for some freestyle food-picking action between maitake mushroom, potato confit and asparagus. Then there’s the wine pairing which has been playing the smooth criminal the entire length of dinner. 450 exquisite labels all at your disposal with the aid of a coravin, the restaurant does try its best to accommodate so you need not confine yourself to an entire bottle of Pagos Viejos 1999.
Dessert is a tableau of simple pleasures executed with nimble fingers. Crispy meringue shells hide a party of honey parfait, lemon sorbet, yuzu mousse and thyme jelly. It sends a cheerful ‘f*** you’ message to the riddance of winter. If you’re not very, very full by this time, there’s still the last opportunity to get your belly rounded out by the finishing mignardises—fraise de bois taste sablée, religieuse and baba au rhum. I witnessed my partner’s jaw drop when faced with the reality of the situation. Throwing caution to the wind, he left the ball taking a spin with all the damsels in distress. His cream stained shirt serving as the only witness to the affair.
Like high-waisted denim and dungarees, plenty of long gone French practices and culinary methodologies are making a comeback. The foods that make you want to cradle a big glass of Bordeaux and launch into conversations in hushed tones (sometimes with an odd accent). In a world where contemporary mergers are the new median, Vianney Massot’s homage to classic French and savoir faire around seasonal produce puts it on a path to resurrection in the ever-evolving global food scene. Definitely worth spending a pretty dime on.
The 7-course degustation menu is available from S$338++.