Keeping it Haute
March 13, 2021
Clockwise from left: Pearl – crab coated in gel, Macaron with caviar, Turbot with Fennel sauce, Forest Mushroom dessert, petit four, Foie Gras-Banana Taco and Langoustine
Henk Savelberg’s Michelin star credentials are just a mere hint to the precision, the finesse and the elegance that the chef plates at this French fine dining restaurant Savelberg in midtown Bangkok. Sitting on the edge of Bangkok’s high-end shopping district, this modern iteration of classic French cuisine is the ‘new normal’ in the history of this very codified cuisine.
The dining room is cool white and grey with large picture windows letting the light in. There are touches of orange here and there, the tables are covered with crisp white linen and flatware is European in its heft and tableware is all white.
The experience begins with a tiny vanilla macaron topped with caviar and gold leaf. The sweet and salty flavours riffing off each other — the chewy macaroon creating the perfect foundation. The next offering is a small taco of foie gras, banana and macadamia nut. The crispy cinnamon flavoured sugared taco shell melts in your mouth, leaving just traces of cinnamon to underline the foie gras and banana. The last of the amuse-bouche is a deconstructed tortilla with potato cream topped with chorizo, cured egg yolk, and tomato salsa, bringing it all together.
With the palate all prepped for the Savelberg Experience, it is time for the Pearl. A large, lustrous pearl that sits atop a scallop shell, almost as if it has fallen off a treasured pearl string. The green apple gel exterior hides poached crab meat. Once you have committed the crime of cutting through the pearl, mix in the apple and celery compote with its light dusting of curry powder and ginger foam for quite the zesty experience.
The next course plates pan-seared langoustines with a tiny mound of rice and shaved green asparagus. The langoustines are enlivened with vinaigrette (read that as pan juices, citrus and olive oil). The rice brings to mind a fluffy Lyonnais rice pilaf though this one is flavoured with tarragon oil and herbs. The rice is moreish; the tendrils of light green frisée balanced atop it add an edge of bitterness to the entire dish, highlighting the sweetness of the delicate langoustine.
The main is slow-cooked turbot that is then pan-fried in French butter and served on fennel sauce with fennel slices. The composition is dotted with aromatic herb oil. And dill. For where there is fennel, dill will follow. This dish, I’m told, is Chef Henk’s most requested creation. The sophisticated, velvety, yet light, sauce is packed full of flavour. Still, it stays firmly in the background letting the perfectly seared turbot play hero. Atop the fish sits a mound of finely ribboned and poached fennel. The dill, completing the dish with its grassy but sweet profile.
Dish after dish underlines the new philosphy that has found traction in the French kitchen: ingredient centred, perfectly, yet, simply executed. There is nothing to hide behind, not even a heavy sauce. And yes, no unneccsary garnishes.
The dessert is a playful composition – Forest Mushroom: white chocolate glaze, mousse (vanilla, yoghurt and cherry), pistachio sponge cake, chocolate crumble, cherry and yuzu gel, and marshmallow all artfully arranged. Fun, but a complete antithesis to the dishes that came before it.
The entire meal is paired with Bollinger Champagne: effortless and spot on. There’s something to be said for keeping the wine pairing simple and straight forward. Especially at lunch. Reservations are required. Click on the link.