Be tter known for its shopping than its fine dining, Harbour City is nevertheless home to a true culinary gem. In a quiet corner on the fourth floor of the complex, with its peaceful outdoor terrace where you can gaze out towards the horizon, is a restaurant that truly takes French finesse to new heights.
Forget about the hordes of shoppers as you enter this portal—international design firm Yabu Pushelberg has done a fine job with Épure, from the drama of the gilded sliding doors separating the main space and the intimate private room to the whimsy of the painted murals depicting idyllic forest scenes. Clock the intimate booths that are clearly designed for a romantic tête-a-tête, the low lighting and serene music setting the mood.
In the kitchen is Nicolas Boutin, a veteran French chef who has spent the best part of 30 years working for luxury hotels—Raffles, the Mandarin Oriental (including The Landmark Mandarin Oriental, where he was executive sous chef) and the Four Seasons. Boutin’s flair for well-thought-out flavour profiles and an eye for artistic presentation set his restaurant apart.
The signature set dinner menu is a balanced four-course experience, light yet satiating. It begins in true French style with a rich foie gras, beautifully seared and served with pear three ways—poached, raw and puréed. It’s a well-balanced dish of savoury flavours and sweet fruit. A rich soup of white button mushrooms follows, which is creamy, perfectly thick yet smooth; it’s elevated by the addition of a pleasantly chewy green spinach gnocchi, fresh spinach leaves and slices of mushroom, which add colour and further textural interest. Clean, precise flavours often define chef Boutin’s cooking.
But it’s the signature vol-au-vent that proves to be the highlight of the meal. The crisp, golden and gossamer-thin flaky pastry breaks beautifully at the press of the knife into the base of monkfish and lobster, with an indulgent lobster and langoustine bisque and the addition of firm florets of cauliflower. The lobster is exquisite, supremely fresh and lightly cooked, so it remains juicy and tender. It’s a marvel on a visual, architectural and gastronomic level—anyone still of the opinion that vol-au-vents are culinary hangovers from the ’70s would being doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t order this dish.