Perhaps a little late to this year’s Michelin game, Gunther’s is back after an interior makeover. Not bigger but decidedly grander with the same 40 seats spread over three distinct spaces connected via new shiny brass walkways. The Purvis Road restaurant now features spanking-new art nouveau style curved wood work that weaves from floor to wall to ceiling, a design feature that oozes fine-dining more than ever before.
Re-opened since mid April, Gunther’s serves haute French cuisine with an eye for luxury ingredients by Belgian chef-owner, Gunther Hubrechsen, who spent five years as sous chef of L’Arpege, Paris, before he headed to the sunny shores of Singapore to helm Les Amis and then Gunther’s.
As with before, the restaurant’s able staff will parade a curated selection of the season’s best ingredients (listed on the menu without pricing as “grand cru from land and sea”) before the commencement of the meal. During my visit, the silver platter of culinary treasures including Japanese wagyu, French artichoke, Duroc pork, Pyrenees lamb, fresh burrata and Japanese hamaguri, attract flirtatious glances from diners, myself inclusive, that could potentially set off panic attacks on credit cards holders. Thankfully, the server who explains these ingredients is also fully equipped to address your questions on pricing.
Instead of two tasting menus, the recently-revamped Gunther’s offers three – four courses for $148++, six courses for $250++ and a brand new nine course menu for $350++. The first two options provide diners with a choice of the cheese course or a dessert while the latter nine course has both included. Wine pairing costs additional, with an option available for classic pairing and a more pricey one for premium pairing.
While the staff will tell you that the degustation menus are always a surprise, the bigger surprise is if Hubrechsen does not dish up his all time signature dish of chilled angel hair pasta enrobed in truffle oil with a crowning glory of caviar, a straight-forward dish that has been widely replicated in other restaurants. But as they say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. Having said that, it’d be interesting to see what the chef would plate up to give this much-loved dish an update.
Instead of a hearty plate of salad, Hubrechsen serves you green artichoke from Brittany. The vegetable is grilled, sliced into slivers and paired with crisp Alsatian bacon and Parmesan cheese shavings alongside Hollandaise sauce, an earthy, savoury and somewhat acidic melange of ingredients lacking nothing except perhaps quantity.
From the grand cru tray, a single semi-large hamaguri grilled with butter and a spike of alcohol arrives gloriously in its own shell, with its other half shelf containing a scoop of the most intensely savoury and tart risotto cooked down with tomatoes. You want to savour this dish in its entirety because it’s so damn tasty but the savouring of each component will last mere seconds.
More teasing awaits from the platter – Shirakami Awabitake mushroom arrives as thin folds with its meaty texture a cross between abalone mushroom and eryngi. They blanket scotch eggs enveloped in pumpkin veloute alongside grilled shallot confit and a tiny stump of salcietta sausage from Corsica.
For mains, a thick and luscious hunk of smoked Alaskan king crab leg in its shell served alongside dumpling-like bon bon of 48 month-aged aged comte cheese and black truffle shavings in smoked king crab jus. An ethereal delight of savouriness that needs no elaboration.
As if to pursuade you of his cooking prowess, Hubrechsen fields his all-time signature dish of apple tart with rum and raisin ice cream as a finale, a fail-safe dessert that beckons with its thin, crisp crust so perfectly balanced against the even-thinner layer of apple puree within.
At this point, if you are still hungry, upgrade yourself to the nine-course menu, which comes with a cheese course as well as dessert course. An a la carte menu is also on hand for diners who prefer to savour Hubrechsen’s signature dishes in bigger portions.
After 11 years in business, every single course at Gunther’s, no matter how “haute”, still teems with the carefully orchestrated flavours that Hubreschsen intends for his refined cuisine. While most of us do not need an interior update to be reminded of Hubrechsen’s culinary savoir faire, it is perhaps opportune to make some noise to get the attention of the highly elusive Michelin inspectors who have been giving Gunther’s the cold shoulder.
36 Purvis Street #01-03, Singapore 188 613; +65-9010 3075; gunthers.com.sg