Saturday, April 19, 2008

The Butterfly Effect

I was prompted to visit Le Papillion (28 Maxwell Road, #01-02 Red Dot Traffic Building, S069120, tel: 6327 4177) before they were closed for good at the end of the month because of their highly recommended rigatoni pasta with crustacean oil, shave bottarga and tiger prawns and this I did. It's quite unfortunate that this dish may not see the light of day for much longer. This turned out to be one excellent pasta and one of the more enjoyable ones that I've had from memory. My photo of it unfortunately does not do it much justice.

Rigatoni Pasta Tossed in Crustacean Oil, Shaved Bottarga, Tiger Prawns, Seaweed and Arugula Salad

I can't begin to even describe how impressed I am with the al dente quality of the rigatoni. I'm sure many Italian restaurants, good as they may be in the execution of the cuisine of their homeland falls short of the standards that I tasted here in a French place. Or maybe the restaurant wasn't very busy and more attention was put into the cooking of the pasta? The doneness was excellent and the crustacean oil which I was told once tasted like hay bee hiam from Wild Rocket, didn't quite taste so much that way here in Le Papillion. It was aromatic to an extent without having the flavor being to excessive and the spiciness was definitely appreciated. This comes paired with four plump tiger prawns shelled to the tail that are crunchy to the bite. Those were definitely enjoyable. The bottarga slices were unfortunately a tad underwhelmed by the spicy nature of the pasta. So, where's the seaweed?

After extolling the virtues of the pasta which I thought should be mentioned before the rest, let's take a step back in time and start from the beginning......

The bottom line of Le Papillion was that, I'm not too impressed. With the exception of the rigatoni, I think I can see why a place like Red Dot Museum would be a place that draws a crowd all around while this restaurant was barely a third filled on a Friday evening. Dinner started with an amuse bouche of a cube of green apple with crushed toasted almond, balsamic vinegar and a leaf of arugula. I must say that I had expected something more out of this, which is something I probably could have done myself at home. Me, someone with minimal to no cooking skills of mention.

Freshly Picked Mud Crab with Mango and Tomato Salsa
Served with a Light Orange-Mango Espuma

Sauté Foie de Canard “Duck Liver” with Vanilla-Pineapple Compote Brioche Toast, Mesclun Lettuce and Spiced-Pineapple Syrup

The opening notes definitely didn't leave much of an impression. I thought that the mud crab smothered in everything mango turned out quite refreshing to the taste because it was nicely chilled, but that was all there is to it. The terms "freshly picked" didn't quite register on the taste buds. For a French place, the foie gras was quite unremarkable. There was a glaring omission of the flavor associated with the duck liver and instead of a charred appearance, it looked a little blistered. Usually, the accompanied glaze/compote/sauce would be something with citrus, a little sour zest or a tartish flavor to compliment the rich fatty liver. This liver didn't really taste fatty at all and the pineapple compote was all sweet.

Chicken Consommé with Foie Gras de Canard and Truffle Oil

So we see the same kind of foie gras here again with the chicken consomme which was decent but otherwise quite unimpressive if not bolstered by the truffle oil.

Grilled Yorkshire Pork Rack with Orange and Honey-Glazed Carrots
Granny Smith Apple Compote and Raspberry Vinegar Glaze

The Granny Smith apple compote was very nice, so were the orange and honey glaze carrot strips which was pleasantly, slightly sweetish. Cushioned with a small amount of fats, the pork rack was a tender piece affair which was downplayed by the raspberry vinegar glaze which was again mostly sweet and didn't really remind anyone of raspberry of vinegar. I think salt and pepper would have sufficed.

There wasn't enough of a wow factor to this point to inspire a pick from the small selection of desserts.

Au revoir, le papillion. Je ne m'affligerai pas pour votre perte.

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