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. 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 justice.

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

Can't begin to describe how impressed I was with the al dente quality of the rigatoni. Some Italian restaurants don't even get that doneness right. Or maybe the restaurant wasn't very busy and more attention was put into the cooking of the pasta? The crustacean oil which I was told once tasted like hay bee hiam from Wild Rocket, didn't \taste so much that way here in Le Papillion. It was aromatic to an extent without being excessive and the spiciness was nice. Pasta came with four plump and crunchy tiger prawns shelled to the tail. The bottarga slices were unfortunately 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 and start from the beginning......

As a whole experience, I wasn't very impressed with Le Papillion. With the exception of the rigatoni. The 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 had expected more out of this. I probably could have made this 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

Starters definitely didn't leave much of an impression. Thought that the mud crab smothered in everything mango turned out quite refreshing but that was mostly because it was nicely chilled. The description "freshly picked" didn't quite register. 

For a French place, the foie gras was quite unremarkable. There was a lack of the flavour associated with 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 soury zest or a tart flavour to compliment the rich fatty liver. This liver didn't 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. Saved by the truffle oil it was.

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 sweetish. Cushioned with a small amount of fats, the pork rack was tender. Was also downplayed by the raspberry vinegar glaze which was again mostly sweet and didn't taste of raspberry or vinegar. I think salt and pepper would have sufficed.

There wasn't enough of a wow factor to this point to pursue desserts.

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

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