SINGAPORE RESTAURANT

Preludio

Fine dining with levity at Frasers Tower

Like chapters of a book being newly inked, Preludio is the start of a fresh tale by chef Fernando Arevalo (formerly from Artemis Grill). The analogy is apt because of the way the restaurant paces itself. You’ll go through an ebb and flow as you work through the courses, resulting in rising tensions, climaxes and a cliffhanger dying to be resolved.

The hype: Like chapters of a book being newly inked, Preludio is the start of a fresh tale by chef Fernando Arevalo (formerly from Artemis Grill). The analogy is apt because of the way the restaurant paces itself. You’ll go through an ebb and flow as you work through the courses, resulting in rising tensions, climaxes and a cliffhanger dying to be resolved.

The vibe: The only entity on the alfresco third floor of Frasers Tower, Preludio easily becomes the center of attention the moment you set eyes on its storefront. Viewed from outside, its floor-to-ceiling glass walls wrap around a central fountain, offering an inviting oasis of calm amidst the hustle and bustle of Tanjong Pagar.

Indoors, white textured walls offer a sense of understated sophistication while tables, spaced generously apart, each comes adorned with an art piece representing the restaurant’s running chapter. Monochrome is the current read, and this prelude is set to run from opening for about 18 months. The concept will change thereafter.

The food: Remember Monochrome Fusion Bistro on South Beach Road? Though sharing that common white-and-black theme, the food at Preludio is nothing alike. Arevalo, tired of the usual restaurant offering, has set out to make his own venture different – and he has done an exceptional job at it.

It’s hard to label the cuisine, but fine modern European is a close definition (if you need one). Only degustation menus are available here, starting from a four-course lunch ($68) to the full eight-course dinner ($218) experience. Definitely go for the latter, and if you’re here for a special occasion, a unique surprise will make the evening all the more memorable. Even if you’re here on a normal day, expect surprises (the good kind) nonetheless.

It will be unbecoming of us to ruin the surprises for you (they don’t show you the course menu until after your meal, though they will definitely ask about your dietary restrictions), but in general, expect a reverence towards produce in chef Arevalo’s food. Before each dish is presented, the staff will place an ingredient (usually the key one) used in the upcoming item in front of you. In one instance, fresh almonds in their natural, green form is showcased. Feel free to open one up and bite into its juicy center. You’ll wonder why people bother eating the toasted ones.

In another instance, a staff pours 25-years aged balsamic vinegar into a bespoke glass bong meant for nosing this particular produce. Appreciate every whiff of it. Unlike most chefs, Arevalo is comfortable allowing the raw ingredient, instead of his culinary skill, to steal the limelight. And in his La Cortina pasta dish, this traditional aged balsamic vinegar is the star. Deservingly so, we might add.


Pata Negra

But don’t be mistaken, Arevalo is a fine cook. In his Iberico pork shoulder main, the Pata Negra, you’ll find a complex profile in every tender bite. Each generous slice of meat is a mouthful of umami and marbling that then gives way to aromas of spice (and spiciness), char and a thoughtful balance of textures thanks to an added light crunch from the coating.

The drinks: On the wine list are labels sorted into black or white. No, there is no new category of black wines here, but rather, the wines are distinguished by the soil type that cradled each varietal. Under the white category are wines made using grapes that grew on limestone, chalk and the like, while the black category houses those that grew on volcanic soil, for instance.

Pick and choose your own wines, or allow witty sommelier Chip Steel to do so for you. His pairings for the course menus (additional $158 for pairing of eight) are a real treat that will especially pique the interest of oenophiles. Don’t expect the usual or the luxurious, but a nuanced range of rare finds meant to please the seasoned drinker. Plot twist: It’s not all wines in the pairing either.

Why you’ll be back: If you come once, you’ll be doing yourself a favour. But come back again with others in tow and you’ll be doing them a solid by opening up their minds to what a dining experience can be.

Venue Details
Address: Preludio, #03--01/02 Frasers Tower, 182 Cecil St., Singapore, 069547 Singapore
Website: preludio.sg
Area: Central, Tanjong Pagar
Cuisine: Modern European
Price Range: $$$ - $$$$
Open since: November, 2018
Opening hours: Mon-Sat 6-10pm; Mon-Fri 11:30am-2:30pm
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