Marguerite uses so many plants in their current spring menu that the restaurant would hum along if the apocalypse happened and vegetation reclaimed the earth. But what won me over was something not terrestrial.
In fact, the dish an alien from what chef/owner Michael Wilson called “prawn noodles.” The official name is New Caledonian Blue Prawn “Tagliolini,” and the air quotes don’t lie. Shrimp from the French Pacific territory are mashed, flattened, flashed cooked, and sliced into long pasta-like strips. The noodles have a toothsome bite that rivals the real thing, and a dressing of prawn head bisque and trout roe sharpens its saline focus. Still, Wilson could not resist sneaking some plants in, in the form of dill oil and finger limes. “One from the ocean, and one from the tree,” he said.
In Marguerite‘s world, the best dishes throughout the seven-course dinner menu (S$248++) are a union between land and sea. An airily crunchy cucumber meringue is crowned with herbs, flowers, and sweet Dungeness crab, chased down with a bracingly cold and herbaceous gazpacho made with ten different spring herbs and vegetables. Sustainably sourced Patagonian toothfish is aged for a week then gently poached. Its softness contrasts against chewy pāua abalone slices, its ocean flavours played up with creamy passionfruit sabayon and sweet fennel puree.
When the restaurant turns its attention inland, the results are also sublime. A silky mushroom custard is decked with earthy morel chunks, vibrant spring peas, smoky burnt butter, and leafy lovage oil. A house-made sourdough loaf takes a nutty turn with spelt, rye, and sesame seeds, which I smeared generously with fresh Brittany butter. A pre-dessert of mint sorbet separates peppery galangal foam and a syrup of green apple and Chartreuse. It is paired with a walnut macaron offering bittersweet cream of gorgonzola dolce, fennel marmalade, granny smith apple, and arugula.
Wilson’s duck neck sausage is the only meat on the spring menu. It is also his signature – he introduced it in 2016 when he manned the one-Michelin-starred Phénix in Shanghai – and the latest version is a slight refinement. It is still stuffed with duck leg and foie gras, but gone is the head on a plate, replaced by a less visceral slice of sausage, a meaty slab of duck breast, rich Jerusalem artichoke, and plum ketchup. The fruit also coaxes out the ripeness of a velvety red blend by Lebanese winery Chateau Musar, evoking dark cherry and dried red fruits.
Drinks are another way that Marguerite incorporates plants into its spring menu. Dubbed Temperance Beverages (S$88++ for the pairing), these libations use fruits and vegetables to mimic the sensation of wine, sans the alcohol. Granny Smith apples are juiced and infused with shiso and hay to recall the cut-grass and racy acidity of sauvignon blanc. Gala apples and verjuice – a tart juice made from unripe grapes and other sour fruits – is cooked with celeriac, then infused with oak chips to stand in for a light-bodied chardonnay. Green tea and honey are fermented to form a kombucha, then blended with fresh strawberries and rhubarb for a cross between gamay and pinot noir. It also strolled in lock step with a dessert of pain perdu, tonka bean, and strawberries, like a walk through a blooming spring field.
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