The Au Petit Salut French restaurant is housed in a glorious building by itself in the iconic Dempsey area. Judging by the setup, the property there has to be worth tens of millions of dollars and the parking is exclusively for patrons. One wonders how much rent the owners of Au Petit Salut has to pay to their landlords. Au Petit Salut is real fine dining for those with fat wallets.
Besides the glorious location, Au Petit Salut is also one of the highest rated French restaurants on HungryGoWhere by popularity. As of the date of this article they sit on the 3rd spot amongst all the French restaurants in Singapore. We do not know why though, at 69% and 146 votes, they are placed above JAAN which has 80% and 108 votes. Perhaps HungryGoWhere has to fix their algorithms, but by our experience, we do not expect them to keep their high ranking for long.
Service and Ordering
Superb wait staff service: The waiting staff at the restaurant were of the highest standards, and we were pretty impressed by their attention to detail and great demeanor throughout our meal. Save for some coarse handling of the cutlery by one of the more junior staff, we would say the we had a near perfect service experience there.
Extremely poor service from the management: We did experience some major service lapses that were probably not the fault of the wait staff. My electronic reservation was vacated without any attempt to contact me by phone because I did not make full payment of the booking. They did send me an email, which was diverted to my junk folder. The ironic thing is that I did repeatedly check my junk folder for their email but they were able to use a title and sender’s name that perfectly masked their email together with all the other regular junk email. A restaurant of such high standing should have bothered to contact me by phone before vacating my confirmed reservation. In the end, I had to place a phone call myself to the restaurant to discover that I had missed their email. The person at the other end of the line assured me that my reservation was still in place, only for me to receive an email informing me that my selected timing had been given away.
So, the consumers really get fleeced during Valentine’s Day. First, they jack up the price by almost 100%. Second, they demand full payment of the booking before they lock in your reservation. We understand that restaurants may get frustrated by patrons not honouring reservations during such a lucrative day, but we hazard a guess that if patrons dump their reservations on you, it is probably because you inflated your prices a bit too far.
You get driven out after two hours: Yes, we were politely informed that we had to leave 1 hour and 55 minutes into our meal. The wait staff tried to be as nice about it saying that they had another reservation for our table at the allocated time. So now we get shooed away after getting fleeced. We were not informed beforehand about this, and we actually did not spend much time loitering after our dessert. You only get served with your main course exactly one-hour after you are seated (this is entirely the kitchen’s problem), so they expect you to finish your main course, dessert and coffee within one-hour before you are required to leave. Basically you can forget about any form chit-chatting after your meal.
We don’t usually give service ratings but we must give their wait staff an awesome 4.5/5, and their management a dismal 2/5. I guess this is what happens when fine dining gets too commercialised.
Au Petit Salut – Pan Seared Duck Foie Gras
Is foie gras the most delicious food in the world? For those that are unfamiliar with this dish, it is goose or duck liver that is usually pan-seared – i.e. the surface of the liver is cooked at high temperature for a brief period until caramelised crust forms. The result is one of the most exquisite and delicious tastes that you will ever experience, without the usual excessive seasonings. For those that haven’t had a chance to try foie gras, make sure you do it this year!
The staff at Au Petit Salut informed me that goose liver is banned in Singapore (we were not able to confirm this so we remain sceptical), so you can expect your local foie gras dishes to be using duck liver instead. Goose liver is generally considered to be superior in taste when it comes to foie gras.
The foie gras at Au Petit Salut was impressively presented, with the usual extra large plate and small food portion that is typical to the fine dining restaurants. While the foie gras was delicious, we feel that it could have been cooked a little more and it would have brought out even stronger flavours. We rate the foie gras 4.2/5.
Crispy French Duck Leg Confit, Butternut Pumpkin Puree & Brown Jus
For the uninitiated, puree is a smooth cream of liquidised or crushed fruit or vegetables and jus refers to a thin gravy or sauce made from meat juices. I must salute Au Petit Salute for daring to serve their main course in such a comparatively plain manner. Yes, it is still fancifully presented with the decorated puree and you can tell that even the jus was carefully and strategically placed. For once, I did not need to remove the unnecessary green dressings from my duck confit.
The duck confit was full of tender meat and the duck went exceptionally well with the pumpkin puree. Unfortunately we found the juiciness within the duck meat very slightly lacking compared to the best duck confit that we have tried in Singapore. We rate this dish 4/5.
Pan Seared Beef Tenderloin
The wait staff recommended the medium wellness for their beef tenderloin as opposed to the traditionally accepted optimum that is medium rare. Wolfgang Puck says that medium is the limit and we guess this is an unhappy compromise to satisfy the local palette.
The dish was served in a minimalistic fashion similar to the duck confit. The beef tenderloin was supremely juicy and flavourful, and it was appropriately tender and delicious. Do note that this is a French restaurant and not a speciality steakhouse, so you may have to moderate your expectations if you are a steak connoisseur. We rate their beef tenderloin 4/5.
Choux Buns with Vanilla Ice Cream
This is one of their signature items and rightly so. Choux pastry is a type of light pastry dough commonly used by the French to make éclairs and chouquettes, amongst others. For this delicious dessert they use choux puff pastry on the top and bottom of three ice cream scoops. This is not your regular ice cream – they use the epic vanilla ice cream from Häagen-Dazs. In our travels around the world we still have not been able to find any ice cream that even comes close to the ones from Häagen-Dazs. If you know of any better ones, please let us know.
Häagen-Dazs vanilla ice cream, sandwiched between two exquisite choux puffs and drizzled with chocolate sauce and garnished with roasted almonds. Yes, it tastes as delicious as it sounds, and we were completely satisfied with this order. On hindsight, we would have ordered this for the both of us. We rate this 4.4/5.
Valentine’s Day lunch was priced at S$80 nett per person. On a normal day, you could get their set lunch (with limitations) at about S$44 nett. Well, they say it is not profiteering when there are other alternatives available in the marketplace. With this in mind, we suggest that people consider celebrating their Valentine’s Day meal on the day after or before Valentine’s Day itself.
The food at Au Petit Salute was a mix of above average to good, with their only really delicious item being their Choux Buns dessert. Coupled with our horrendous experience with their management service, we can only recommend coming here for dessert.
Personally I am getting quite disillusioned with the state of fine dining in Singapore. Quite a number of establishments are beginning to place culinary excellence as secondary to service and ambience. You can get the most impeccable service with the best addictive ambience, but what about serving the most delicious food? The popular fine dining establishments usually have above average to good tasting food, it is rarely excellent these days. We hope that the local fine dining scene can step up and start becoming world beaters in terms of taste now that the Michelin Guide is coming to Singapore.