Located right outside Raffles Wafi and conspicuous with it’s Broadway-like signage, La Residence is a “French-bistro-inspired-affordable-fine-dining-restaurant-with-an-Italian-Chef-and-Mediterranean-flair”. That’s the description I was given and instantly felt that we have an identity crisis on hand. That, paired with the fact that we walked into a virtually empty restaurant on a Thursday night make my heart sink and second guess whether it was a good decision to RSVP to the tasting invite. Nevertheless, I was there already and warmly welcomed so I just consoled myself with a mental “hey, you win some, you lose some- let’s see how bad this can be”. Much to my chagrin, I had to bite my words, because by the end of my meal I concluded this place is a heartbreakingly underrated, hidden gem with a lot of potential.
Our attention was instantly drawn to the cutest custom made plates on the table, each with a different garden vegetable. The menu was concise and simple- something I like, and the decor was very welcoming. Maroon leather upholstery, crystal chandeliers and white linens on the tables made me feel like I’ve gone back in time a few decades and I loved it. The chef had prepared a tasting menu for us, so we put the menus aside and began with the amuse bouche– a crab salad with celery mayo. It was just ok as far as I’m concerned; it didn’t really pack a punch of wow. But everything then on was uphill.
For starters we received a basket of freshly baked bread and -wait for it- Savory Beignets filled with parmesan cheese and Puff Pastry sticks flavored with anchovies. These came with some of the finest Calamata olives we’ve had, and were sheer indulgence. The puff pastry sticks could have done well with a dip of some sort, and I feel the anchovy flavor wasn’t very prominent.
Because it’s a “French” restaurant, of course I had to try their French Onion Soup. This came with the BIGGEST most puffed up pastry dome EVER. The onions weren’t nearly caramelized enough though, which was a little sad.
Next up we had a Roasted Scallop Salad, and soft, creamy Burrata with Yellowtail Tuna Tartare that came with avocado guacamole and raspberries filled with a balsamic reduction. If you took a bit of everything together, it made for the perfect bite. I wish I could tell you what the quenelle in the salad is -because the waitress didn’t know either- but it tasted like an almond sorbet. The Roasted scallop salad was disjointed, could have been better seasoned though, and the scallops really needed another 30 seconds on the heat.
The Duck Ravioli was phenomenal. From the filling, to the sauce to how perfectly the pasta was cooked, this dish was the piece de resistance of the night. It came with some fois gras on top which I decided not to have in the honor of overfed, tortured ducks everywhere.
Finally we had Pan Seared Seabass with Clams in Parsley Sauce and Thick Chickpea Fry. You should know by now that I’m making most of these names up, based on what I believe to have eaten. There are two reasons for this: a) The server didn’t know what most of the dishes are called and b) I couldn’t spot them on the menu online either. Here’s what won us over: the skin on the fish was crispy. Full marks for technique and the perfect sear. Those clams though. Some good samaritan (perhaps the chef?), decided to pluck out the meat from dozens of clams, toss them in a refreshing parsley sauce, and serve them in one clam shell so that the diner can just go for an entire spoonful of this goodness! Yum. The macerated onions on the plate were far too sour to be enjoyable, and not nearly soft enough.
Dessert was the prettiest plate of Chocolate Fondant with vanilla bean ice cream, French Toast, and an assortment of French Pastries. Believe it or not, the French toast- served with salted caramel ice cream- was the biggest hit on our table and the plate was wiped clean. It was very eggy and comforting. The poor little pastries got the least amount of our attention.
Is the restaurant French though or Italian? Perhaps a bit of both, because “French” is not just a cuisine but also a style of cooking. The Chef seems to (mostly) know what he’s doing but I feel the restaurant direly needs to reevaluate the management as it has far too much untapped potential and it slacking in more ways than one.