The Mitchell Lin Guide: Bacchanalia

A re-review of that posh Hong Kong Street restaurant
by JUNK
Mitchell LinJune 10, 2018
Looking for a second opinion on that Michelin-starred restaurant people won’t stop talking about? Introducing the Mitchell Lin Guide, where JUNK re-reviews Singapore’s Michelin-rated dining establishments. 100% local. 100% honest.

Restaurant

Bacchanalia

 Cuisine

Modern French

What Mitchell Lin says...

“This is a very superficial version of fine dining – all the look with none of the depth. There will always be these types around, but there are other places that deserve your hard-earned dollars.”

 

Best for…

Last resorts

Worst for…

Fine dining

The Food

Appetizers

 

At Bacchanalia, we opted for the 4-course, “seasonal inspirational menu”. As something we assume they cook day-in-and-out for a short period, we felt it would be a good test of reliability, something they should be confident to dish up, with the freshest ingredients of the season and enough flair to charm diners with… you know, make us want to come back.

There was trouble in paradise from the start. This meal had the sophistication of simple mathematics; every dish tasted exactly like the sum of its component ingredients. The seaweed butter, tasted of seaweed and butter. The cold soup of pumpkin, ginger and cream, tasted like pumpkin, ginger and cream. The morels with sweetbreads tasted like, wait for it… morels with sweetbreads in them. You see the pattern here.

We know that outstanding chefs can transform ingredients. This chef assembles.

Mains

 

As every dish landed on our table, we kept hoping it would change the downward course of the meal. But it didn’t, sadly. Why did the micro-wedge salad remind us of the smell of the Cold Storage vegetable section? (Not even Market Place.) And guess what – it tasted just as it looked: a small wedge of Romaine lettuce with dollops of dressing. You would get the same experience going to Cold Storage, ripping open a container of Romaine and biting into it.

Certainly, there should never be a moment when a guest eats something so convoluted and elaborate-looking only to think, “This one… maybe I can make myself”. As it went on, our dinner went from disappointing to almost amusing, with a tinge of despair.

Dessert

 

Dessert came in the form of Bacchanalia’s signature Sicilian Pistachio Parfait and we heaved a sigh of relief because it really is a beautiful plate of food. Our hopes rose considerably as we took our first bite. But alas, the pistachio parfait was oddly… hard?!? Like, unexpectedly firm. Was it served too cold? Should we have spent more time taking photos of the dessert before eating it so it would have time to thaw? Maybe?

Add to all of this, the weirdness of the plating. Nearly everything was glued down to the main white chocolate ring with some sort of emulsion. So, what exactly is this emulsion? This is where it becomes clear that Bacchanalia values aesthetics over actual taste, because the dish was certainly very pretty, but the taste and texture of this functional emulsion “glue” does the dish no favours at all. Why, oh why?

The Extras

Ambience

Acceptable. Over-lit and soundtracked with the strains of druggy, dated club music that sums up pretentious spirit of the place – the Herbert remix of Louie Austen’s “Hoping” was fun in 2002, not 2018. It’s past its moment, and may we suggest, so is this place.

Overheard

Mercifully, nothing much. It was semi-filled on a Thursday evening and they placed us in the middle of a long banquette.

Service

Mixed. Staffed by an assortment of characters ranging from extremely sincere, to shifty secondhand car salesman and earnest-but-halting newbie.

Price

$$$$$

Too expensive for what it is.

 
 

Read the rest of the Mitchell Lin Guide here.

Have any thoughts on Bacchanalia or the Mitchell Lin Guide?
Talk to us at [email protected]

Because nothing makes sense anymore, subscribe to JUNK.