CONVERTING old monorail stations to chic contemporary restaurants appears to be the latest culinary trend on Sentosa, and Braise, a modern European eatery with appealing views of Palawan Beach and the South China Sea, is a welcome addition not just to Sentosa, but also to the dining scene in Singapore.
The second-floor restaurant, characterised by a simple interior with high ceilings, a line of pillars and lots of white space, is a joint venture between Loh Lik Peng, the owner of the New Majestic Hotel and Hotel 1929 in Chinatown, and Dawn Teo, whose father Albert owns the Amara Sanctuary Resort located just behind Braise.
More significantly, Mr Loh's hotels are both home to reputable culinary establishments, including Restaurant Ember at Hotel 1929. The cuisine at Braise is somewhat reminiscent of that at Ember, although Braise head chef Desmond Lim takes more of a traditional French approach than Ember's owner-chef Sebastian Ng, whose Asian-inspired European dishes have gotten him an impressive fan base.
The island bar, semi-open kitchen and various design elements - including a shallow, water-filled trough that runs beneath a row of dining tables and is equipped with resident goldfish - evoke an atmosphere of informal but modern beachside chic. There are also sisal-covered walls, terrazzo floors and alfresco areas at both ends of the restaurant.
'I like the beachside location because it's pretty rare,' says Mr Loh. 'The interesting locations are helping to improve Sentosa dining by leaps and bounds.' He says that the original plan was to have a Mediterranean-style restaurant, but the partners eventually opted to have a stronger emphasis on French cooking.
Based on a recent tasting, it was a wise decision. The menu at Braise is still 'temporary' but there is enough to suggest that the style and execution of the cuisine will raise the quality bar on the dining scene in Sentosa. The main deterrent at present is the slight hassle that it takes to get to the restaurant, because it is situated in a no-car zone. Diners will have to park at the Beach Car Park and walk three minutes or so. Plans are also in the works to provide a golf buggy transfer from the car park.
The dishes currently on offer include more interesting appetisers than mains, but all of the dishes sampled were refined, well-balanced and sophisticated, if slightly less than original. Oh, and they tasted pretty good as well. A starter of pan-seared foie gras with langoustine and smoked haddock emulsion ($32) was a tad salty but the duo of frog leg ravioli and tempura with morels ($30), tian of crab meat ($26), lobster bisque ($28) and angel hair pasta with sauteed baby prawns ($26) were on the money.
Mains tasted were a beef duo of wagyu fillet and beef cheeks with savoy cabbage ($48) and a poached, pan-roasted quail stuffed with foie gras ($48). Dessert came in the form of a pizza-like, crispy apple pie ($14) and a warm financier cake with rum and raisin ice cream ($14). For those with less time to linger, there is a three-course set lunch for $38 and a four-course for $45. Dinner tasting menus are available at $98 (five-course) and $108 (six-course).
60 Palawan Beach Walk, Level 2.