SINGAPORE — Every person I spoke to about my visit to a restaurant at Bukit Pasoh has responded with variations of "Huh? Where?". It is especially strange that this road is so under the radar given that the exit at Outram Park MRT Station opens up directly to Bukit Pasoh and, in so doing, a host of very underrated dining establishment (Humpback, Casa Poncho, Eight Cafe and Bar) still, unfortunately, living under the shadow of its more hip enclave, a street and a wide strip of greenery away.
I traipse down Bukit Pasoh Road one fine Thursday evening to visit Restaurant Beurre—French for Butter, pronounced Buh, like Pho, pronounced Fur without the R. The door to the restaurant is carved into the wall and had it not been for the very bright bouquets of congratulatory stand flowers crowding its mini lobby, I would have missed it completely. Beurre, helmed by Chefs Darwin Wong and Chong Yiping, follows in the naming convention favoured by much-revered establishments like Candlenut, and Halia. I would have thought that a restaurant audacious enough to name itself after one of my favourite ingredients would feature said ingredient prominently in every dish. But that's not the case here, and actually, that's not too bad a thing.
Starters, for one, is a conspicuously butterless affair. It's sans butter but every plate is so meticulously and beautifully assembled. If I had on a string of pearls, I would clutch them, whispering "My, oh my". A pouch of creamy white Burrata (S$13) sits in charming contrast to saccharine cherry tomatoes in shades of orange and liberally dressed in a very bright plum sauce.
Salmon Taco (S$17) is deconstructed and stacked in parts on a Pollock-esque plate of pink and green splatters—dragonfruit aioli and. It's unnecessarily dramatic though, given that it's wonderfully fresh, crispy, and acidic, all in perfect proportion.
The traditional soft mounds of deep-fried mantou are repurposed into crunchy croutons for the Unagi “Man Tou” (S$18) and pairs perfectly with the luscious unagi that has been flash grilled on the binchō-tan. “It’s rather… Jaan-esque don’t you think?” I demurred to my friend. A plate of Escargot Truffle (S$18) looks nothing like I imagined. Firstly, it is so delightfully fragrant with bold whiffs of truffle—musky, earthy, and deliciously funky. Secondly, all that lovely, chewy escargot is artfully hidden under a bed of shredded and fried potato crisps, mixed with smaller chunks of sautéed pork belly, proving that snail and pork is a match made in culinary heaven.
What really made my heart sing, though, was the Foie Gras Hazelnut (S$26). Again, like the previous plates, it is buried under an ebullient mound of sliced grapes and pickled pearl onions. Strawberry lime jam adds a complementary note of tart to the bold and beefy foie gras, making everything taste so incredibly balanced. Oh, also, butter makes its way here in the form of a brown butter mousse. But by now, butter is essentially the furthest thing from my mind.
But let’s not throw the butter baby out with the bathwater just yet. The pièce de résistance of Beurre is the 350 grams, 10-days butter-aged Angus Ribeye ($68). You know this is a special hulking slab of meat just from the curious stares of the kitchen crew observing from behind a pane of glass with breath that is bated, watching our expressions with the highest of expectations. This time around, there’s no hiding under fanciful mounds of things. Here, the ribeye is cooked to a perfect medium-rare and served on a white plate stripped of gastronomic filigree save for three condiments—onion compote, red wine jus, and chives. The meat gives way, expectedly, like butter. However, this method of dry-ageing, surprisingly, does not impart much buttery flavours to the meat. Rather, like wet-ageing, the butter acts as a barrier to air and allows the blood juices to remain in the meat during the process which results in a steak that has not reduced in size but is still gorgeously tender to the cut.
As I left the restaurant, I struggle to understand what Beurre wants to be. I'm slightly confused by its suggestive moniker, yet, I found the dishes entirely pleasing from start to finish. Well, the night is still young and a restaurant still in its prime would certainly undergo improvements as time passes, especially under the tutelage of young and ambitious chefs such as Darwin and Yiping. Until then, if all Beurre serves is food that is robust, delicious, and drop-dead gorgeous, it's already doing better than half the restaurants I know who are simply contented staying exactly where they are—huge cake slices and towering floral arrangements be damned.
23 Bukit Pasoh Road, Singapore 089837, +65 9660 0597
Tuesday to Saturday (Sunday Lunch only), Lunch: 11am - 3pm, Dinner: 5pm - 10pm, Closed on Monday