Preludio is that rare example of a restaurant that wows you not only in terms of flair and artistic concept but also with taste. A feast for the eyes and the taste bud, the food here is defined as author’s cuisine – a movement that came from Spain. It is known for its boundless take on dining, where the chef can conjur up his own creativity in preparing the dishes.
In Preludio, that author is none other than Chef-owner Fernando Arevalo. Hailing from Colombia, he has previously worked in Artemis Grill (another one of my favorites!). Preludio debuted in November with a palpable black and white theme as its first chapter.
I tried out Preludio a couple of days ago and saw for myself how seriously this black and white concept is taken into account. It permeates almost every element of the dining experience, from the art work gracing the walls to the uniform of the staff. It made me think to myself as well how monochromatic food could possibly be appetizing. Tasting is believing.
Elude – White Beetroot / Burrata / Walnut Crumble / Yogurt Foam / Primeur Sturia Caviar
Prior to serving the first dish, the manager came by to show us a root vegetable and made us guess it. It looked something like a potato to me and to be honest, I could not make out what it was. It turned out to be white beetroot – admittedly my first time to see such a thing. Apparently, the white variety is said to be the sweetest of them all, even exceeding the purple one that most people know. Here, the beetroot is hidden in a yogurt foam with some burrata, walnut crumble and dill-marinated cucumber. One can also spot some Primeur Sturia caviar on the side. The result is a relatively light and sweet starter, with each component complementing the other.
Allude – Fermented Mushroom / Bone Marrow / Thyme Croutons / Mushroom Potato Mousse Oscietra Sturia Caviar
The next dish – Allude – deceives the diner in a way into thinking that he’d find the same thing lying beneath. But that could not be farther from the truth. While the previous dish – Elude – focused more on sweetness, this course focused on the savory side. The fragrance from the mushroom potato mousse was palpable from the moment the dish was served and those who might initially think it’s a fancy version of the mushroom soup would be utterly mistaken. The highlight here is what lies beneath – fermented mushrooms and bone marrow. I love how these were not overpowering at all, providing just the right balance of flavors when tasted against the mushroom mousse.
Peek a Boo – Smoked Eel / Lampascioni Bulb / Girolle Mushrooms / Heliantis / Crosnes
My favorite dish of the evening was the third – Peek a Boo. It’s aptly named as the highlight consisting of smoked eel, lampascioni bulb, mushrooms and some root vegetables are hidden beneath a large piece of crispy rice crackers. What I particularly loved was the juxtaposition of textures – this course is indeed best consumed in small bites with everything together. The egg yolk emulsion which contains a hint of yuzu provides a bit of a zing.
I have a good feeling that the Peek a Boo will also end up becoming Preludio’s most iconic dish – at least for this chapter.
La Cortina – Butternut Squash and Amaretto Agnolotti / Parmesan Sauce / Almond Snow / Il Borgo Traditional Balsamic Vinegar aged 25 years
One of the key elements used to prepare the next course, La Cortina, is the traditional balsamic vinegar which has been aged 25 years. It has a nice caramel flavor to it which bodes well for the agnolotti with butternut squash and amaretto filling. The true star here in my opinion is the parmesan sauce. I drank it up as if it were soup!
White Opal – Patagonian Toothfish / Cauliflower Puree / Crunchy Shallots / Leek and Almond Milk Bubbles / Pickled Fresh Almonds / Black Olive Powder
In terms of mains, we started with the White Opal which is a piece of Patagonian toothfish with cauliflower puree beside it. This course was relatively light with the fatty fish possessing a smooth texture. The black olive powder on the skin serves to strengthen the flavor profile of the fish.
Pata Negra – Iberico Pork Presa / White Carrot and Apple Puree / Charred Piennolo Tomatoes / Black Basil
The heaviest course of the evening was the Pata Negra which is made up of several pieces of Iberico pork. Presa or shoulder cut is used for the meat which is relatively uncommon. The exterior is deliberately charred and coated with squid ink bread crumbs giving faint reminders of the char siu especially when viewed against low light. But it differs with the succulent flesh marinated for 12 hours. It comes with Piennolo tomatoes on the side which I dare say, almost steals the show from the pork. I am not typically a tomato person. I usually leave it behind whenever I see it but I really had to make an exception for the Naples-grown variety. It possessed a natural sweetness that was more fruity than what I’ve encountered previously with tomatoes. Let’s just say I ended up yearning for more than the two plump pieces that came on my plate.
Irezumi – Salted Black Sesame Ice Cream / Sesame Snow / Yuzu Ganache / Strawberries with Lime / Baby Basil
The 8-course degustation at Preludio comes with two desserts, the first being Irezumi – salted black sesame ice cream with sesame snow and a hint of yuzu. As with the mains preceding it, the desserts here also tease you a bit with something light before going to the star of the show.
Gorbea Mountain – Blueberry Mousse / Yogurt Sponge / Yogurt Ice Cream / Idiazabal Cheese / Blueberries / Blackberries
There are quite a lot of things going on with the Gorbea Mountain, the main dessert course featuring yogurt ice cream with Idiazabal cheese and blueberry mousse on the side. Many people in my table took a liking for this dessert due to the Idiazabal cheese, a type of cheese made of sheep’s milk coming from the Basque region of Spain. Personally, it was actually the blueberry mousse that wowed me. Sprayed with cocoa butter to create a velvety effect, the blueberry mousse also provided a bit of color to the sweet ending.
While Petite Fours are usually rendered as an afterthought elsewhere, I really enjoyed the ones at Preludio. These include the tropical fruits white chocolate bon bon, orange and coffee dark chocolate bon bon, vanilla chantilly filled pate choux and white truffle macarons. I particularly enjoyed the bon bons and the truffle macarons but special mention must be made on the latter. The staff member recommends eating this last – a heavenly ending to what is likewise an impressive dinner.
Amazingly, Preludio manages to wow with its cuisine despite being confined to black and white elements. It has only been a few days since my visit but I am already planning my next visit there. Yes, I liked it that much! Trying the 8-course degustation menu also made me curious as to how their lunch menus are like. I will definitely be back.
Prices at Preludio:
The 8-course dinner menu at Preludio I had is priced at S$218++ per person. 6-course dinners are also available for S$168++ per person. Difference between 8 course and 6 course dinner menu is that the former includes White Opal (Patagonian toothfish) and Irezumi (black sesame ice cream).
Lunch sets start from S$55++ per person (4 courses) and goes up to S$98++ per person (7 courses).
182 Cecil Street