The Golden Ages Meet Modern Singapore: La Belle Epoque
Located in the historical Boat Quay in Singapore, La Belle Epoque is a newcomer to Singapore’s bustling and vibrant dining belt with patrons from the central business district after hours working office warriors and tourists crowd alike. The name “La Belle Epoque” means “the golden age” in French, referencing a period of French and European history.
The understated two-storey restaurant also offers alfresco dining, boasting expansive waterfront views along the Singapore River against a stunning backdrop of the city’s skyline. Entering the restaurant, my eyes were drawn to the simple and rustic open bar illuminating a warm golden glow. On the second level, the restaurant can accommodate up to 16 people, perfect for a quaint social dinner party. The restaurant had recently hosted a private pop-up lunch event for a renowned coffee brand, serving experimental coffee flavoured inspired dishes. La Belle Epoque is also open as a restaurant in the day, offering 3-course value lunch sets at S$17.80++ (starter, main course, dessert) – perfect for a quality office lunch meeting for those office warriors returning to the office in light of the ease in restrictions.
The heart of La Belle Epoque’s food is the creative, passionate and dynamic Chef Firdauz Nasir, who has garnered an extensive wealth of culinary experience over the past 15 years under the tutelage of Master Chefs such as Chef Kentaro Torii, Chef Jeffrie Siew, Chef Christopher Millar and the late Chef Eng Su (Owner of the Coconut Club Singapore & Belimbeng Superstar). Signature creations by Chef Firdauz include Poulet, Canard Du Ciel, Smoked Pork Belly, Cauliflower Steak and more.
Indulge in the revamped dinner ala carte menu of contemporary European cuisine that celebrates seasonal ingredients at the peak of their flavours. Chef Firdauz curates every dish to exquisite perfection using old-school techniques and the freshest ingredients which he seasons with natural herbs that he sources and harvests out of his own herb garden.
We started the evening with an array of mouth-watering Mediterranean inspired appetisers. The Watermelon Tartare (vegetarian) ($10), a cold appetiser, was juicy and thirst-quenching. This vibrant dish was a stimulating and refreshing delight from the heat and humidity of our tropical climate. Keeping it light and simple, the smoked watermelon cubes were mixed with Japanese cucumber cubes and pear cubes, carefully laced with pickled shallots, pomegranate and watercress, and lightly topped off with yuzu dressing and a hint of spearmint. An exotic taste of savoury and tangy with a lingering cooling effect on the tongue from the mint and sweet cucumber aftertaste.
Following the Watermelon Tartare was a warm appetiser, the Crusted Tuna (keto, gluten free) ($19), an intriguing tropical island combination of sweetness from the grilled valencia orange, layered with a twist of savoury from the seared yellowfin tuna. The tuna was seasoned lightly, slightly charred and coated with a crust – a harmonious blend of sesame seeds, fresh spices and herbs, resulting in a tantalising flavour explosion, leaving us craving for more. I liked this dish. The seared tuna was elegantly presented in a garden wreath and had a light, umami, meaty taste. The natural zesty tones of the pomelo and oranges worked well with the honeyed vinaigrette dressing on the salad.
Our favourite dish of the meal was the Smoked Pork Belly ($18) soused in Chef’s selected aromatic spices, served with a golden cloud of puffy pork chicharon. I used my knife, with moderate pressure, to smash into the crispness of the pork chicharon. The pork skin crackling shattered into bite-sized glorious crunchiness. The pork cracker was not too salty or oily, complementing the flavourful, tender and salivating slab of pork belly. Adding to the flavour, was the fragrant and velvety pork veloute, a classic french sauce with the Chef’s own twist and his own added blend of herbs. For sides we had a grilled peach salad, paired well with the meaty taste.
The next meat course was the Carrara 640 Wagyu Rostbiff ($45). The wagyu steak was thick and basted till it was blushing medium-rare with a lovely brown char as I desire. The lean steak buckled easily to the knife, was seasoned boldly and had a warm, luxuriously buttery smooth flavour. The silky and creamy (but not milky), slightly greasy texture of the spinach was laced with seasonings, a simple yet robust comfort side dish which elevated the succulent steak. The spinach went well with the flavours and texture of the steak including the brown buttery steak sauce, stirred with fresh herbs, which was unusual and interesting.
For the sweet finale, the pre-dessert was Berries & Cream ($10), a puddle of thick, sweet and chantilly cream topped off with strawberries, blackberries and cherries and thyme. At first, I was hesitant to try this because of the green herbs atop the cream … but I am glad I did! It was light, refreshing and enjoyable. The flavours of bourbon cherries with fresh cream came through as strong and delightful together, there was a sprinkle of thyme on top but it did not add any discernible fragrance to it. We also enjoyed the Chocolate Mousse Cake ($10) which was a decadent, intense and melty pure Valrhona dark chocolate, balanced carefully with segments of the acidic, tangy freshness from the oranges, finishing off with a savoiardi biscuit crunch.
The overall experience was dynamic and satisfying. We appreciated the value, creativity, and thoughtfulness packed into each dish, catering to our local Singaporean tastebuds with a taste of Western and modern European cooking influences and techniques. Perhaps the next time we return, with more friends, we would try pairing our meal with some unique concoctions prepared by La Belle Epoque’s in-house bartender, Andy, to enhance the dining experience. Special mention also goes to the attentive, upbeat and friendly staff that we encountered who certainly did ensure that we were comfortable and well looked after – from the positioning of the fans for ventilation outdoors to communicating the construction and elements of every dish served.
La Belle Epoque is located at 63 Boat Quay Singapore 049851. For reservations, contact the hotline at 6732 1687.