Novus (the first F&B venture by the folks behind Alley Bar and Rouge) is a clever addition to the newly renovated National Museum – chic, sleek, pretty and refined. The restaurant is not big – it’s really a narrow room divided into a dining room and bar.
I had the Valentine’s Day menu which was fit for a queen (of course mah...*hairflip*) and an excellent showcase of what the restaurant has to offer.
The 1st course was the yellowfin tuna tataki with maple syrup reduction and baby coriander, as well as baby yellowfin tuna nicoise. Both were not bad – I’m not a very big fan of tuna – but I loved the clever pairing of the maple syrup and tuna. Who would have thought? Definitely whetted my appetite for more.
The 2nd course sure did not disappoint - foie gras mousseline & foie gras crème bulée. Before you go WTF?! both were excellent especially the crème bulée. It was basically foie gras that was in a terrine form with the top caramelized by searing with a torch. The foie gras was done such that it was creamy but not salty and went so well with the sweet caramel tasting top. So clever and it turned out soooo well - I was really pacing myself to enjoy it for as long as possible. The foie gras mousseline was served in a shot glass with a raspberry reduction. Nice.
The 3rd course was the grilled scallops and pork belly cooked 4 times with chestnut puree and red wine reduction as well as prosciutto wrapped monkfish tail with seeded mustard risotto. I felt that the proscuitto didn’t quite go that well with the monkfish and made it a tad too salty but the risotto helped tone everything down. The scallops and pork belly was another winner. I loved the sauce which was thick, gooey and sweet and went so well with the scallops and the pork belly…the pork belly…oooh the fat that was so soft that it just melts in your mouth. Amazing and I can’t wait to try it again soon.
The 4th course was the slow roasted veal rack and truffled white polenta with sauce périgueux and pan-fried wagyu beef, potato scales and lyonnaise onions with cabernet reduction. To be honest I really did not like the veal and I’ve come to decide I really am not a fan of polenta (cornmeal) either. But the wagyu beef was fantastic – really good… together with the lyonnaise onions…heavenly.
Dessert was a chocolate trio of ice-cream, molten fondant (basically warm chocolate cake) and white chocolate mousse. I must commend on their cake (which I know just about every restaurant is serving) because the chocolate which they used was excellent.
Service as attentive without being annoying (know what I mean?) and I hear many of the wait staff were from Da Paolo.
Novus is definitely worth checking out – elegant contemporary food, excellent execution and beautiful presentation backed by a competent team and boosted by a great location / setting. It's form and substance - I’m already looking forward to my next visit!
Pssst – the foie gras crème bulée is the only dish not available on their standard menu but you can call and order 1 day in advance (ask for Eddy).
Novus essentially made Restaurant Week for me. I remember having been to Novus when they first opened years ago. I was already rather impressed back then.. Let's just say they topped themselves this time!
I was extremely pleased with their menu selection for Restaurant week with what seems like the best from their a la carte menu. And with four choices to choose from for the entree and main course, I couldn't be more grateful given my restriction on no beef/chicken. I realized how limited my choices are when restaurants tend to serve only beef and fish or chicken and fis when it comes to set menus.
Our amuse bouche was a delectable portion of deconstructed burrata with refreshing tomato and greens. I liked that they served the burrata individually rather than a sharing portion. The flavors actually blended a lot better tossed up.
For entree, I couldn't my resist the Duck rillette with foie gras parfait. I was already intrigued at the presentation when it came in a clear glass bowl covered in a light foam. Dipping my spoon in delicately, I wasn't sure what I'll find. The first scoop brought with it the smooth creamy texture of decant delicious foie gras and fragrant shreds of duck rillette. It was a very generous portion and with the richness of the foie gras, it was best when I decided to have it as a spread over bread.
The lobster risotto was a clear choice for my main. Perfectly cooked risotto in a wine infused stock, a touch of vinegar and generous lobster serving saw me cleaned out my plate pretty quickly.
And the highlight of my meal has got to be the Valrhona chocolate test. 5 different chocolate desserts of varying texture and concentration of cocoa served in tasting portions to be eaten progressively from the one with the least amount of cocoa (33%), to the highest (85%). I really couldn't be happier by the time I finished every last morsel of my meal.
What topped it for me was the little descriptive card set in front of us with details of our next course so we know exactly what's in it.
A cute little Chinese takeaway box bid us farewell as we trotted happily home with a lovely little cupcake for a nightcap.
All this at a great value of S$55.00. Keep it coming Restaurant week!
I have to admit, Novus is one of those places that manages to be a little different in the way it presents and serves it's food. While the bread basket is fairly ordinary, I like the little touches in the way it serves the spread. From the little micro cress and pumpkin seeds on the softened butter to the delicious little nuggets of salty goodness in the form of green olives.
They go so far as to provide little placards with information about the core ingredients plus the unique preparation methods of the individual dishes. Wonderful little touches as I said. But the problem for me is that while they provide these nice little touches, the wait staff needed to be better trained.
We arrived at the restaurant with a reservation made via the restaurant week website, and I had no idea they had a dress code. At the entrance however, I was thusly informed and when I told him the above, he proceeds to blame my ignorance because I made the reservation online. He suggests we take a table outside, in the sweltering afternoon heat when he standing right before him with me was a VERY pregnant woman with a 19mth old Infant in a stroller. I asked him if he was turning us away if I refused, and in a display of magnanimity, he decides to show us to our table... where I see other diners wearing t-shirts...
If you have a restaurant in a "tourist attraction", why would you have a dress code in the first place? If tourists were to show up, would you turn them away?
The Filipino waiter that served us has a face so sour, I swear the water they served us turned into lemon juice. But nevermind that, when I proceeded to tell him I would make the order simple and just have the various offerings on the menu, he curtly replies, WHICH of YOU is having WHICH? Now, this wouldn't bother me half so much, if the following hadn't happened. The next guests arrived, which was a lovely family of Filipino (coincidentally) tourists, and were seated next to us. When they placed their order, 2 of this and 1 of that, he was all smiles and said to them, sure madam... Talk about a massive discrepancy in service... Throughout the entire lunch service, I was certainly led to believe that I must have caused him some great disservice in a past life...
OK, the food.
The amuse-bouche of Cherry Tomatoes and Mozarella was tasty. Simple and clean.
For our starters, We had the Goose Liver Custard, Gingko Nuts, Stuffed Morels & Duck Confit... which had way too much foam, but was otherwise alright....
The Cured Salmon with Grapefruit and Pomelo Segments, Lily Bulbs, Yuzu Gel, Oysters Leaves, etc... was tasty to me. I read the review prior which slammed this dish, but it really wasn't that bad a plate of gnosh. One man's meat is another man's poison and all that I guess...
For our entrées, we had the Stuffed & Rolled Organic Chicken, Seasonal Mushrooms, Hen-of-the-Woods Tempura, Sauce Girondine, Aerated Potato Créme, Crisp Parsley and the Red Snapper Poached in Shellfish Dashi, Risoni Pasta, Soy Beans, Seasonal Vegetables.
In all fairness, they did state that it was a ROLLED Chicken, cooked Sous-vide... So you have to expect it would be rolled up like a sausage... but my issue with this dish is that, with sous-vide chicken, you tend to expect moist succulent chicken meat, but this was dry and tough. The Sauce Girondine and the Tempura Hen-of-the-Woods was delicious, but there was definitely way too many "Saucing" elements on the plate.
The Red Snapper... What a disaster! A plateful of over-done Risoni, the Snapper was tough and dry, and the seasonal vegetables it was topped with felt like the leftover scrapings from when they clean and trim their veg... and the icing on the cake was I found 2 massive fish scales whilst chewing the fish. Not at all pleasant. I did notice that the table across from me, the patron in a t-shirt, which incidentally was munching on the same snapper dish, fishing out scales from their mouths as well...
Their Desserts that we had was a Black Sesame Meringue Stuffed with Wild Strawberry Ice Cream & Mango Espuma and their version of a Valrhona Chocolate Test. The Black Sesame Meringue needed to be binned... It was an EPIC FAILURE. The texture and flavour was horrible. I enjoyed the Mango Espuma and the Strawberry Ice Cream though.
The Chocolate Test was interesting. It consisted of 5 different preparations of varying percentages of coca. 38% Orizaba Lactée Cocoa Aerated Chocolate, 55% Equatoriale Noire Cocoa Souffle, 66% Alpaco Cocoa Sorbet, 72% Araguani Cocoa Warm Custard, 85% Abinao Cocoa Dehydrated Chocolate.
The issue here is that when you make 5 different forms of chocolate, there are bound to be some hits and misses. But I applaud the Chef for trying to push the boundaries and presenting in one meal, so many different techniques, textures and flavours.
This place is one of those places I'm in a conflict about. It has it's share of hits and misses when it comes to the food, but the service standards of the place upset me sufficiently that I would not recommend the place. Pity.
With a cuisine that borders on the contemporary, would Novus prove itself to be an avant-garde in French cuisine or simply all sizzle and no steak?
Located within Singapore Museum, Novus is separated into 2 dining segments; the Restaurant & Bar for fine dining and the Cafe & Courtyard for casual dining. The Cafe & Courtyard has an open concept with the optimal use of natural sun as lighting, while the Restaurant & Bar has a more private feel to it.
Friend Raina and I had the 3-Course Set Lunch at $38++. I thought that the selection of mains available was pretty decent, ranging from angus beef cheeks, duck confit, snow cod and trio of berkshire pork belly, pork cheek & pata negra ham just to name a few.
For our complimentary amuse bouche, we were served Heart of Palm with Grape in a Vinaigrette dressing. A bit too acidic for me since I hadn’t had my breakfast then.
For appetizer, the Foie Gras Lassi V2.0 was a combination of goose liver parfait and yoghurt. Something interesting about Novus is that it provides a small information card along with the courses as they are served (very much aligned with the museum theme which has information stands for each exhibit) and it went as such: “The goose liver is marinated with port wine, Sherry, Madeira and Brandy. It is then combined with shallots, thyme, butter and eggs and slow poached to create a goose liver parfait”. While the combination was good, I would have preferred if there was a greater accentuation of the foie gras, as the lassi overwhelmed it somewhat.
For the Norwegian Salmon treated like a Salad, the Salmon was cooked sous vide, meaning it was cooked under low temperatures over an extended period in a vacuum, thus allowing the salmon proteins to remain intact and keeping the fish tender. As such, the Salmon tasted much like sashimi which I found very gratifying.
For Mains, I would highly recommend the Hickory Smoked Black Angus Beef Cheek. The beef cheeks were tender as butter and went amazing well with the mushroom creme. The portion was also rather generous. My only grouse is that it wasn’t served warm enough. The Triple Cooked French Fries that came along with it was really tasty as well.
As for the Crisp Duck Leg Confit, the portion was rather miserable though it could be due to the fact that it was deboned and hence looked unsubstantial. The duck meat was moist and tender, better than most of the duck confits I have come across for this aspect though this came at the expense of a skin that was not as crisp.
For Desserts, the Fruit Jelly sounded novel with the description “Assorted Berries & Fruits in Champagne Jelly & Elderflower Sorbet”. Unfortunately, it was really unpalatable and I gave up after 3 small spoonfuls. The jelly was really sour with an aftertaste of wine gone bad and the Elderflower Sorbet was exceedingly too sweet for one to bear.
Chocolate Test had the description “50% souffle, 68% Mousse, 80% Sorbet”. No idea what that meant, perhaps that’s the optimal proportion in which we are to eat them together for each mouthful? Unlike the fruit jelly, this was really outstanding. I dare say it’s even more enjoyable than the chocolate souffle at Laurent Bernard’s Chocolatier, which is the benchmark to beat in my opinion.
While the food was a mix of hits and misses, I’d like to reiterate on the dismal service standards here as mentioned earlier. First, menus not distributed properly. Second, waiter didn’t bother to write down our orders and had to come back amidst the meal to reconfirm our dessert orders. Third, request for warm water was ignored and cold water was served instead which we quickly corrected. Fourth, friend’s cup remained empty for a really long duration. Fifth, diners (not exclusive to ourselves) were left unattended with no staff in sight over quite a few occasions and during the few times where staff were present, they often missed out our desperate cries for attention. Sixth, my query on what sauce was used for the Salmon Salad was dismissed quickly with a “Basil” which was definitely erroneous as it sure didn’t taste like it. Seventh, the waiter stood by using eye power instead of pulling out the chair for my dining partner or me, and not offering an extra chair to put our bags (I was lugging 2 bags and a laptop). Not that I’m being a snob or fussy pot (much), but there’s just a basic level of service you’d expect to be accorded with when dining at a “fine dining” venue which was evidently lacking here today.
Ok, just to add some balance to my critical comments, a plus point for service is that Novus gave out a free muffin each to every diner, in a nice box with a Thank You note inside. Ate the muffin for supper at home, it’s not too bad with a pleasant fruit-cakey taste.
On hindsight, food was ok. I definitely wouldn’t mind paying $28++ for a 2 course if I could leave out the fruit jelly.
For the full review/pics, do visit http://yumyumformytumtum.wordpress.com/2011/02/22/novus-restaurant-bar-cafe-courtyard-service-faux-pas/
photos and more here: http://andmorefood.wordpress.com/2013/04/10/novus-restaurant-bar-town/
great european brunch food at this cosy - and very classy - restaurant hidden away in the singapore national museum. I popped by this place for a brunch with friends and the food is rather innovative, and service very prompt - the menu sounds rather typical, with eggs, french toast and common european fare, but it's the small details and their interpretation of these dishes that made it such a good meal. it's become one of my current favorites.
the place is truly gorgeous, with high ceilings and luxurious finishings. it's very peaceful, and that bar area at the back looks awfully welcoming. prices were reasonable, portions much larger than you'd expect - and next time I'll stick to my egg en cocotte, and possibly get a slice of one of those lovely cakes on display.