Four years since The Black Swan opened its doors in what was formerly the Kwangtung Provincial Bank on Cecil Street, it feels like nothing has changed. We were still mesmerised by the art deco-inspired interiors with soaring ceilings and lavish mezzanine lounge, complete with all the gold and bronze trimmings that were still as vibrant as the first time we visited.
And it’s still as crowded as ever. We went on a Tuesday night and the restaurant was packed with a mix of tourists and suits who capped off the day with tipples and a hearty meal.
What’s new is that lauded chef Daniel Sia, formerly chef-owner of The Disgruntled Chef, has rejoined The Lo & Behold Group as its culinary director. “It feels like a 360 degree turn from the time he joined the group as executive chef of The White Rabbit in 2008 to now,” says public relations consultant, Jill Sara.
Now he has a bigger role of overseeing most of the group’s menus and culinary direction such as The Black Swan, where he worked with head chef Benjamin Tan to revamp the menu.
We started our meal with the light and fresh blue swimmer crab salad. Shreds of fresh crustacean meat were hidden like mini treasures in a mound of spinach leaves and kohlrabi, lending a nice crunch to every bite. We appreciated the citrus notes in the form of sliced apples—just what we needed to cleanse the palate for the vidalla onion broth.
Served piping hot, the small bowl of goodness is filled with deep brown, unctuous sauce brimming with flavours of truffle and bone marrow; it also came with a side of lightly toasted camembert toast for our dipping pleasure, just like how the French do it.
Moving on to the mains, we first had the roasted cauliflower steak, one of the most Instagrammable dishes of the night. The cauliflower is prepared two ways: puree and grilled.
It wasn’t all chewiness as the addition of puffed grains, black truffle shavings, and mushrooms gave it a nice, complex texture. Chef made it more covetable with poached egg, which we cut open to reveal the golden yolk for extra richness.
Before the main event, we treated ourselves to the whole dover sole a la meuniere, pan-fried to a crisp and laden with capers and spinach; and the roasted Iberian pork chop drizzled with apple cider pan jus, prunes and Armagnac.
Finally, the highlight of the night—steaks. Chef Sia first showed us the different cuts before firing up the grill. All were from sustainable farms with different flavour profiles from your average meat. Such are the Brandt USDA choice tenderloin from the century-old producer Brandt Beef and the Aomori ribeye with pillowy tenderness and well marbled meat, cooked to medium rare over apple wood at 300 deg Celsius.
Steaks always pair well with wine, and our night’s tipples were selected by head sommelier Yeo Xi Yang, who held the title of Best Sommelier of Singapore in French wines 2016 by Sopexa. We had a glass of the Querceto 2014 Chianti which complemented the smokiness of the meat and capped off the night on a high.