As an eastie, I’m real happy that more and more upmarket eateries are springing up around the Katong/Joo Chiat area. Just 6 bus stops away from my home is the latest kid on the block: Private Affairs, a fine dining restaurant that promises to entice diners with personalized service and innovative Modern European cuisine infused with an Asian touch.
Note: This was an invited food tasting session. While I totally agree with a reader’s comment that “most of the time free food tastes good” (hi, david! if you are reading), rest assured that I won’t rave about any food that doesn’t agree with my tastebuds.
For dinner, there’s 2 menus available which changes monthly: “Private Affair” (4 course at $98++) and “A Luscious Affair” (7 course at $168++). There’s also a selection of Chef’s Signature Dishes (ala carte or 6 course at $138++) which was what I had.
The interior of the restaurant looks elegant, doesn’t it? Simple yet chic. Kind of reminds me of Sage, The Restaurant.
I went “what’s these?” when I saw these mini plastic pumps pipettes on the table. Turns out to be balsamic vinegar. How cute!
Fresh bread served piping hot from the oven! The focaccia was good and the mantou-like hazelnut and walnut bread roll was even better with ultra soft innards, though I’d prefer a stronger nutty flavour.
I think the sparkling wine we had was the distinguished Cava of Spain. I’m far from being a wine connoisseur but the fizzy texture gave a sublime pleasure to the palate.
At Private Affairs, the first two bottles will not be subject to any corkage charge, should guests wish to bring in their own wine. Subsequent bottles will be levied a nominal fee of $25++. Sounds reasonable to me.
Vine Ripened Tomatoes ($18++): horseradish meringue, green pumpkin seed oil & ginger flower vinaigrette.
I was quite disappointed that the caviar tomatoes were unavailable that day so we had to make do with normal sweet cherry tomatoes instead. Nevertheless, the meringue is interesting, very racy and sharp. Clever starter!
Duck Carpaccio ($24++): granny smith, scallion gel duck consomme jelly.
Marinated paper-thin slices of French duck breast cured in brine for 3 days before being air-dried.
Since I don’t do duck, Chef Paul specially made a beetroot jelly with cucumber and green chili sorbet for me.
I really like the sorbet! Very creative to use chili for that heat factor while the cucumber gives it a refreshing feel.
If I have to choose a dish that’s the toughest to photograph for the night, this is it. No matter which angle I shot it from, the photos turned out weird.
Prosperity Trio Raw Fish Salad: toro, hamachi, salmon, seaweed cracker, japanese yam jelly, papaya seed & sambal oelet vinaigrette.
Obviously a festive new year dish which looks great but sadly, I didn’t get to try it.
Pan Fried Foie Gras: rosemary brioche, balsamic noodle, cherry & beetroot reduction.
Looks so soft and wobbly, like tofu.
White Lobster Bisque ($26++): salmon & lobster cannelloni, capsicum, lemongrass crumbs.
This tri-coloured tube is highly labour intensive! Made of squid ink, spinach and egg pasta, 10 small portions take 3-4 hours to make. And notice the tiny green scallions on top of the cannelloni? Chef actually uses a tweezer to put these on for a finishing touch. Talk about meticulous.
Like Boathouse Fullerton, the hot bisque is poured into the serving dish right in front of the diner. Still a gimmick presentation, but no longer novel to me.
Though the bisque was rich and hearty, it got a little too salty at the end for me. I’m still much more fascinated by the pasta! The stuffing was generous and the lemongrass infused breadcrumbs added another texture and dimension. Delicious!
Hokkaido Scallops ($25++): corn gnocchi, bed of corn, smoked miso powder, bonito flakes.
Again, presentation is fantastic. You call it messy, I say it’s artsy. Reminds of the dinner at Jaan where every dish was served with a flourish and each component on the plate was there not by accident, but with a purpose. And even the dark serving plates are the same!
As it is, I like this just very slightly more than the lobster bisque so this is officially my favourite dish of the night! Granted, the scallops were a tad over seared but I was far more interested in the intriguing corn sheet and gnocchi. They melt in the mouth and I adore the smoky umami miso powder.
Chef, may I have more, please?
Seared Scallops in Chardonnay Packet: celeriac spread, apple chips, green peas & fennel foam.
It’s the soup-pouring-in-front-of-diners act again.
Monkfish Cheek: fermented garlic & Oyster glaze, purple carrot, white asparagus.
This is off the menu and somewhat an experiment for Chef Paul. Monkfish is not commonly served in restaurants (maybe because it’s so ugly, hah) and it’s not easy to get it right. I find that the texture is akin to scallops/lobster meat, rather firm and dense. Still prefer boring ubiquitous cod and salmon!
Wagyu Beef Cheek ($58++): duo of potato, chinese kale royale, curry leaf couscous, tomato chutney, port wine grapes reduction.
When the nutritionists say to eat your greens, the kale royale is definitely not what they have in mind. Blended with cream, butter and egg, this is anything but healthy so you can imagine how good it tastes. I’m so glad I stole a bite of this!
Grilled Lobster: Espelette jam, sauteed blue foot mushroom, lardon, purple carrot paint, Alaskan crab & Cauliflower foam.
I wanna try this on my next visit!
Pre Dessert ($10): mangosteen lime granita.
Guess what. 10kg of mangosteen only produces 400g of mangosteen puree! That’s how pure and refreshing the extract is. I didn’t like the coarse texture of the ice crystals though. Maybe jelly cubes are a better option?
Pistachio & Cheese Sandwich ($16++): passionfruit coulis, strawberry, basil gel.
I don’t like/eat cheesecakes so I was all prepared not to like this. Luckily, the tanginess of the embedded coulis overwhelmed any trace of cheesiness but it was still too creamy.
Anyway, doesn’t this remind you of the old-fashioned ice cream sandwich sold at roadside mobile “stalls”?
Petit Fours: dark chocolate ganache, mini almond financier.
You can hear our exclamations when we saw the lipstick containers. Finally, the guys have an excuse to put on lipstick, hah. These ingenious containers are imported from Europe, I wonder how soon other restaurants will start using them too?
Honestly, I thought that dining at Private Affairs is an expensive affair (pun intended, hah) initially upon seeing the menus online. But after the whole dining experience, I can understand the rationale behind the hefty price tags. Every single food item is prepared from scratch by Chef Paul and his team, and I cannot fault the high quality of the produce at all.
I suppose not everyone of us can afford to dine here on a regular (say, weekly) basis but for that special occasion or just a night of pampering yourself, I’d say that this is definitely a place worth checking out! Personally, the Sunshine brunch ($68++) with unlimited flow of appetisers/desserts is calling out to me, hah.
Many thanks to Veronica of Sixth Sense Consultancy for hosting the dinner, and Chef Paul for presenting such a wonderful menu!
45 Joo Chiat Place
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