In this hot-and-humid country, pink trumpet flowers cascading all around Singapore herald a semblance of fall. This beautiful sight is hardly a match to the regal carpet of golds and bronzes that cloth the streets of everywhere else.
So instead of dreaming about this (with great weather to boot), restaurants are bringing a glimpse of this annual scenery here with a palette of the season’s best ingredients. At modern Italian restaurant Braci, this is where it gets deeply personal. At this 20-seater open kitchen restaurant, intimate connections between Italy’s seasonal ingredients are drawn and a sizeable kitchen team brings this artistry to life.
The best autumn produce is woven up in this colourful tapestry, each one knitted with respectful care under the direction of chef-restaurateur Beppe de Vito and chef de cuisine Mirko Febbrile. Take for instance the amuse-bouche. One arrives in a massive Russian doll, but we excuse the dissonance for the treat inside: a dainty beetroot-red tart of pigeon filet and figs nestled in a bed of cocoa nibs, to be dressed in a drizzle of thick balsamic vinegar. It’s followed by a humble dish of creamy potato foam, only with generous slices of porcini mushroom and shavings of white truffle all over.
Having had a good year so far, Braci is eager to impress and keep expectations up. The restaurant retained its one Michelin star just last month and recently was inducted into the ranks of the best Italian restaurants in the world. Those lucky enough to score a table now can be assured of great things at the dining table this season.
This name seems pretty self-explanatory: it’s the season’s best on a plate. But it’s really a two-part symphony of fresh flavours. The first plate of prettily diced up vegetables — grilled pumpkin slices, beetroot, fermented Girolle mushrooms and radishes — is not meant to be eaten, yet.
Instead, it is meant for the silky canvas of almond and quince cream speckled all over in a glistening mosaic of vegetable oils and herbal infusions. The entire kitchen team comes by to the table for this one spectacle, piecing each a modern art piece bowl by bowl. There’s a lot going on and plenty more to uncover: say, the crunch of radish paired with nutty almonds and the unmistakable minty fragrance from shiso flowers.
A classic venison ravioli shows off the best of Italy’s cheeses. A soft fondue over pockets of pasta throws in all the delightful funk of Castelmagno cheeses, infused with horseradish. A dressing of veal jus, a shower of Kampot pepper seals the deal in this heavy, yet comforting dish. In place of white truffles, the restaurant goes for shavings of chestnut, infused with Parmigiano, for a touch of umami.
Next, grilled sole fish throws a quick nod to Japanese influences. The delicate fish comes a touch smokey after a quick charcoal grill. But the sides are the main highlights here. The fish is laid to rest atop a mesmerising interlacing of yellow and green courgettes and pickled kohlrabi ‘sakura’ slices. Underneath, the blanket of courgettes is a yuzu-scented potato puree which throws in a delightful uplifting touch to the dish.
What’s autumn without game? On the fall menu, Braci pulls out pigeons specially reared in France. The birds are aged for 10 days, then smoked in the restaurant’s Josper oven before they’re grilled. The kitchen’s attention to detail is sharp. The juicy, dark breast is done just medium-rare with char all over. The spindly legs are grilled with care, all the way through till crispy. A sprinkle of Sichuan peppers is just enough to distract the palate from its slightly gamey flavour. It is the jus of pigeon and Marsala wine that adds a sweet, savoury edge to the dark meat. Fine-dining or not, this pigeon is worth getting your hands messy for.
For dessert is Braci’s take on a pumpkin pie which, if you haven’t realised by now, isn’t just any other pie. The ‘pie’ is really a tender chunk of butternut squash gently poached in an aromatic concoction of vanilla beans and Amalfi lemon, hollowed out and piped with liquorice ice cream. A fluff of marshmallow, scented with fragrant tonka beans, adds to that ‘pumpkin pie’ aesthetic.
At this point, we should mention that dining at Braci is a rather flexible affair. Menus offer both degustation and a la carte options, for those who want to build their own take on their dinner. There comes an additional hurdle: every dish must stand out on its own and there’s absolutely not a chance for failure. Braci’s autumn menu is a stunning example of this. Braci has, from start to finish, displayed the aptitude for beautiful bites bolstered by great combinations of flavours. That’s reason enough to drop by the restaurant soon, regardless of the season.
12:00-14:00, 18:00 – 23:00
Autumn Harvest, Mieral Pigeon, Pumpkin Pie
S$150++ per person
Bustling, especially if you’re seated near the open kitchen.