The term ‘author’s cuisine’ is a confusing one, and it doesn’t help that it isn’t self-explanatory either. Long story short: it’s a creative culinary expression that centres on challenging the way ingredients are used and presented.
Sounds abstract? For sure, even vague as well. But it all works in favour of new restaurant Preludio in escaping the pain of having to label itself something (‘contemporary global’ might just work, albeit not as magical).
Chef Fernando Arevalo has gone through the same ‘plight’, having been in French, Italian and Mediterranean kitchens. The Colombian-born chef does not classify his cooking as ‘any of the above.’ So why focus on cuisine when one can instead impress with technique? With author’s cuisine, Arevalo is free to revolve around themes – or chapters – to set the path for the restaurant.
Thus, Preludio opens with its first chapter: monochrome. Just black, white and all the other shades in between. What a daunting task it must be to introduce the restaurant in the least colouful way, and so Instagram unfriendly as well.
Yet, in the words of Orson Welles: the enemy of art is the absence of limitations. Dishes had gone through many rounds, some axed in the process, before this current iteration of the menu would come to fruition. The result is a concept that’s unexpectedly realised in inventive ways.
Located in a quiet spot on the third floor of Frasers Tower, Preludio offers a little peace and privacy for dining. The restaurant’s lounge/bar area is a simple, yet elegant set-up for easy drinks while waiting for fellow tardy diners or just for a quick aperitif before heading to the adjacent dining room.
Considering that themes here are ever-changing, the dining room will also keep evolving. For now, it is kept straightforward but not unbearably humble with Venetian terrazzo and marble slabs. In place of white tablecloths, each table comes adorned with centrepieces: this time, bell jars containing a series of origami and small paintings by local artists in black and white, keeping to the current monochromatic theme. A clever use of upholstered banquettes provides diners not just a touch of casual comfort but also a modicum of privacy. Also available is a private room that can sit up to 12 guests.
The menu embraces black and white in all its dishes, and it’s almost tempting to pin this all as gimmicky. But when each dish is presented to the table with its raw ingredients along with riveting explanations from waiters does one start to become intrigued of what’s more to come.
The first appetiser, Elude, sees a yoghurt foam blanketing sweet white beetroot, creamy burrata, cucumber and delicately briny pearls of Primeur Sturia caviar that starts dinner on a light note. We hoped for seconds, and Preludio delivered a doppelgänger. Only this time, the second appetiser, Allude, packs with rich flavours. Foam is replaced with a mousse of mushroom, potatoes and onions that’s been doused in cream and butter. Underneath are bits of unctuous veal bone marrow, fermented trumpet mushrooms and punches of sea from Oscietra Sturia caviar.
The next dish, Autumn, offers a break from repetition. Crack into a pillowy cloud of dehydrated and deep-fried jasmine rice to reveal the season’s produce: pickled lampacioni bulbs (read: Italian hyacinths) and root vegetables sautéed together with smoked eel and chanterelle mushrooms resting on a homely bed of egg yolk emulsion.
Then, at the end, comes the Pata Negra: pink Iberico pork in a tar-like coat of pulverised panko in squid ink and dressed in pork jus. It’s a crescendo of flavours: a slow, steady heat left from a spice rub of cayenne and paprika and tangs of sweet from sherry vinegar. But it’s hard to steal focus away from the charred Piennolo tomatoes served on the side, each plump with smoke and natural sugar.
Desserts carry on the colour palette of choice. Savoury and sweet come together on each plate. For example, black sesame ice cream comes with a pinch of sea salt, served with yuzu white chocolate and sesame snow. In another, cocoa ‘snow’ capped mounds of meringue and blueberry puree is served with shavings of unpasteurised sheep’s milk cheese.
Chef Fernando Arevalo’s culinary philosophy is elaborate, and he may be happy to engage long conversations about it. But it has no place on a dining table of hungry guests, and Arevalo has accomplished much in distilling his vision with clarity.
The current monochromatic theme is set to conclude in February 2020, which gives Arevalo ample time to showcase the extent of his creativity. But in the meantime, Preludio’s debut has put up a great case for proving that going monochrome is not monotonous.
Monday to Friday
11:30am to 2:30pm, 6:00pm till late
6:00pm till late
8 course degustation