Summer usually calls to mind flowers in full bloom, vibrant hues against clear blue skies, and long lazy days of bright sunshine.
At Preludio, however, it flourishes in shades of black and white, with every dish on the revamped summer menu stained dark or stripped clean of colour. This may sound like something right out of a gothic fantasy or twisted fairytale, but the fine dining restaurant’s new repertoire is far from ominous — it’s merely a continuation of Preludio’s ongoing monochrome theme, which started when it opened last November.
The restaurant specialises in “author’s cuisine”, where it avoids confining its fare to specific genres, and instead incorporates ingredients, inspirations, and flavours from all around the world. It’s helmed by Colombian chef Fernando Arevalo, and will adhere to the monochrome theme (or “chapter”, as its culinary team describes it) till early next year.
Monochrome meets minimalist
To keep up with its changing chapters, Preludio’s interior is a minimalist, elegant space dressed in earth tones, and furnished with wooden chairs and comfy grey banquette seats. Bell jars housing black and white miniature paintings and origami sculptures sit atop the tables as quirky centrepieces.
The restaurant is a bright, airy space in the day, thanks to large windows that let in abundant sunlight. At night, it becomes a more intimate and romantic spot with its dim lighting and soft music.
An unconventional summer
Preludio’s new summer menu, which launched last month, is available during lunch and dinner. For those eager to experience its full spectrum of “author’s cuisine”, go for the lavish eight-course dinner, which will have diners bursting at the seams.
It comes with snacks and petit fours that vary, depending on what seasonal ingredients are available. Examples include foie gras macarons topped with a generous amount of shaven black Manjimup truffles — a decadent prelude to the rest of the meal.
The feast kicks off on a high note with Deadliest Catch, comprising Alaskan king crabmeat layered with coconut jelly and avocado mousse, and set on a bed of crunchy breadcrumbs. A scoop of corn sorbet adds a refreshing twist, while grilled Piquillo peppers and lime vinegar pearls are tossed into the mix for little bursts of acidity and tanginess.
Make It Pop, a silky foie gras terrine glazed with espresso-infused kombucha, is another memorable dish. It’s coated with a “snow” of smoked olive oil and paired with tart passionfruit spheres. Our favourite part? The popping candy hidden inside the olive oil powder, which makes every bite a fun experience.
Less complex but no less delicious is the Nantucket Sound, showcasing a jumbo-sized, butter-poached Nantucket bay scallop perched on a salty corn sauce. Plump and sweet, the scallop is scrumptious on its own, but tastes divine when savoured with the creamy sauce and its accompanying black garlic paste.
Chocolate and fish may seem an odd, even discordant pairing, but chef Arevalo manages to make it work with his harmony of poached halibut and white chocolate sourced from a French producer.
The delicately-flavoured fish is sheathed in macadamias, almonds and white chocolate drops, and poured with a robust broth of black pepper, chorizo, white wine and Obsiblue prawn heads. It comes with a side of syrupy sweet purple tomatoes, charred till black in a Josper oven and filled with an aromatic pesto.
Most of Preludio’s menu has changed, but the eatery has retained two signatures from day one: Its Pata Negra — tender Iberico pork shoulder blackened with squid ink-stained panko crumbs and pan-fried — and homemade agnolotti with parmesan and balsamic vinegar.
The latter is a hearty treat worth breaking all your no-carbs rules for. Chewy, al dente agnolotti pillows are packed with butternut squash and almonds, and snuggled in a luscious parmesan sauce. Upon serving, the pasta is laced with a dash of balsamic vinegar, which has been aged for 25 years to obtain a rich, full-bodied flavour.
For dessert, try the Strawberry Milkshake, a simple but satisfying medley of white chocolate sponge cake with strawberry jam and milk ice cream. It’s a sweet, light confection that won’t leave you feeling overly satiated after the indulgent meal.
More than just black and white
We’ll be honest — when we first heard of Preludio’s “author cuisine” and monochrome theme, we were tempted to dismiss it as a gimmick. After all, considering the glut of fine dining restaurants in Singapore, new entrants will always need a way to stand out and — for some — hopefully catch the attention of visiting inspectors from a certain famed culinary guide.
This doesn’t seem to be the case at Preludio, though, which drew rave reviews when it opened last November and continues to impress even now. The cooking is solid and executed with finesse, and the current black and white theme, while not the most photogenic, makes for an intriguing and unforgettable dining experience.