Joel Robuchon’s flagship restaurant in Singapore is located in the Michael Hotel in Sentosa, at the southern tip of Singapore. Sentosa is an island known for its theme parks, golf courses and casinos. The Michael hotel is located next to Universal Studios, and looked a bit downmarket for notionally a five star hotel, so was not an obvious location for a Joel Robuchon restaurant. Both the flagship restaurant and a more casual Atelier Robuchon are located in the basement of the hotel. It was given three Michelin stars in the inaugural Singapore Michelin guide.
The head chef is Kim Joinié-Maurin, who had previously been sous chef at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and in his early career had trained at Arpege. The dining room had thick carpet and central chandelier, and had well-spaced, large tables with banquette seating. There was a tasting menu at S$495 (£267) or you could opt for two paths through the a la carte, choosing two starters, a main course, cheese and dessert for S$318 (£171) or adding an extra main course for S$368 (£198). The cheapest option was S$268 (£144) for an amuse bouche, three courses plus coffee.
The wine list had prestigious growers and acceptable markup proportions but very little choice under S$150. It offered labels such as Domaine Weinbach Riesling Grand Cru Schlossberg 2014 at S$145 for a bottle that you can find in the high street for S$62, Marcel Deiss Grand Cru Altenberg de Bergheim 2008 at S$220 compared to its retail price of S$131, and Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande 2003 at S$750 for a wine that will set you back S$287 in the shops. For those with the means, there were prestige wines on offer too, such as Leflaive Batard Montrachet 2008 at S$1,450 compared to its retail price of S$791, and Coche Drury Meursault Les Perrieres 2004 at S$6,420 for a bottle with a current market value of S$4,400.
The meal began with a particularly impressive trolley, groaning with loaves of bread, being wheeled into view. Robuchon has always been keen on presenting food on trolleys ever since the early Jamin days, and this one was certainly striking. There were seemingly endless options of bread made with bacon, Comte cheese, squid ink, cranberry and walnuts, garlic, you name it. The regular sourdough was excellent, and the Comte cheese roll and the bread made with bacon and mustard were particular stars. In all cases the texture was excellent, the bread made from scratch in the kitchen each day (19/20). A nibble of polenta stuffed with Mont d’Or cheese from Jura as a hot liquid centre, garnished with black truffle, was a very enjoyable way to start the meal, warm and comforting (18/20). This was followed by an amuse bouche of vegetable jelly with artichoke mousse topped with artichoke crisps and truffle. This was impressive, the artichoke and vegetables lovely, the texture of the artichoke crisps contrasting with the jelly, the truffle adding an element of luxury (19/20).
A roll of avocado cannelloni contained king crab. This was served cold and came with a dressing of citrus and vanilla dressing and a delicate buckwheat tuile. The crab was lovely and the pasta had excellent texture, though for me the citrus dressing was just a touch sharper than it might have been (18/20). Langoustine ravioli with truffle was enveloped in foam of foie gras and served with braised green Savoy cabbage. The shellfish was gorgeous, sweet and tender, lifted by the truffle. The richness of the foie gras was complemented by the earthiness of the cabbage (easily 19/20).
Celeriac tagliatelle was served in a Comte cheese broth with yet more black truffle. The pasta had excellent texture and the earthy taste of the celeriac was nicely complemented by the Comte broth (18/20). Even better was a take on bouillabaisse. Here a mix of high grade shellfish including scallop, langoustine tail, abalone and calamari were served in a gloriously rich shellfish broth laced with a gentle touch of spice mix, with rouille sauce served to one side – this was simply superb (20/20).
A risotto of broccoli and cauliflower with mixed grains and Spanish spices was an interesting contrast to all the rich ingredients and truffles. This was still very impressive, the rice beautifully cooked and the little pieces of broccoli and cauliflower just barely cooked, the grains adding an interesting extra texture (18/20).
Pan seared line caught sea bass was served with lemon grass emulsion and stewed baby leeks that had been shredded and deep fried, along with a garnish of green beans and tomato. The fish was beautifully cooked and the lemongrass emulsion worked really well with it, bringing a nice zesty freshness, with the leeks a pleasant accompaniment (18/20). Beef from Kagoshima was strip loin and A3 grade, so not too fatty, carefully cooked and served with macaroni pasta stuffed with mushroom and black truffle, with confit garlic to one side. The beef was good but I was actually more taken by the macaroni, which had stunning depth of mushroom and truffle flavour and superb macaroni (19/20). This was followed by a cheese course, with a board of classic French cheeses in excellent condition. The Camembert was particularly lovely, but so was the Reblochon and Comte.
A pre-dessert was a mango sorbet at perfect temperature, simple but gorgeous. My dessert was what appeared to be a mango but was actually a mango-shaped shell of white chocolate inside which was lychee and passion fruit, with coconut sorbet to one side. (19/20). A cleverly presented dessert was what looked like a toadstool. The base was actually almond panna cotta filled with marinated cherries, the top of the toadstool filled with a rich chocolate mousse interior. It was surrounded by further cherries, pistachios and a cherry sauce. This was lovely, the cherries good, the mousse rich and lovely, the panna cotta having good texture (just about 19/20). rAfter this a large dessert chariot was wheeled over and you could have anything you wanted from this, though the likelihood of even the greediest person being able to manage much more food at this stage was low. I had some rum baba that was excellent though not quite as fluffy as the famous version at Louis XV.
Service was generally excellent, though wine topping up was not quite flawless, which was surprising at this level of restaurant. The bill came to SGD 650 (£350) per person, with one of the cheapest wines on the list plus a couple of other glasses, so this is not a cheap outing. Having some dishes with a sizeable supplement at this sort of price level, as several did, feels a bit mean. If you opted for the least costly menu and could find a modestly price bottle of wine to share then a typical cost per head is still going to be £185. You could clearly spend a great deal more if you opted for the tasting and chose anything but other than from the cheapest part of the wine list. This is a lot of money whichever way you look at it, but you are getting some highly skilled cooking and plenty of luxurious ingredients. Overall I enjoyed my dinner here and have no problem with its three star rating, certainly compared to so many of the newly anointed three stars in recent years.