By Grace Ma
Aug 20, 2021
AFLUFFY, FLOWER-SHAPED BREAD with a crisp crust is served with lavender butter and an ode to the loaf. A Spanish sherry transports me to scenes of crashing waves at the foot of cliffs in a single sip. My six-course Mirazur lunch is definitely off to a lyrical start.
But I’m not at the home of the three-Michelin-starred reigning World’s Best Restaurant along the magnificent Cote D’Azur in France. I’m in the dining room of a members’ club in Singapore, where the three-month Mirazur pop-up, presented by The Mandala Club, has transformed the space into moonscape, replete with lush foliage draped from the ceiling and a trio of giant inflatable orbs depicting a lunar cycle.
Mirazur presented by The Mandala Club
It is the first time that Argentinian chef-owner Mauro Colagreco, who recently opened Côte by Mauro Colagreco restaurant in Capella Bangkok and an outpost of his beloved burger joint Carne in Singapore, has brought Mirazur overseas. As with all things celebrity in a pandemic (not to mention in a town as foodie-focused as this one), it is almost sold out with limited lunch seatings left, notwithstanding the abrupt no-dining restrictions that kicked in during its opening weekend from May 16 to June 22 and again from July 22 to August 10. The pop-up re-opened on August 14 with reservations restricted to a maximum of five diners who are fully vaccinated diners or have tested negative for Covid-19 within 24 hours of the meal.
There are no fixed menus, but four themes — Leaves, Flowers, Roots and Fruits — featuring ingredients picked at their prime according to the lunar cycle. My lunch in early July was the Flowers menu. It is now presenting the Roots and Fruits menus in succession, each lasting just under two weeks until the pop-up ends September 12. Dishes for the Roots edition include yellow carrots with blue lobster, turmeric and pineapples, and monkfish with black garlic and licorice; the Fruits menu is still under wraps.
Colagreco’s locavore philosophy manifests here in the form of regionally endemic fruits and vegetables such as curry leaves, banana blossoms and chrysanthemum, local hormone- and cage-free chickens, and artisanal jasmine tea leaves supplied by a nearby teahouse. Homegrown botanical design studio This Humid House and art consultancy The Artling complete the mis en scène with flora installations and local art works.
“It’s important that when we work on new projects, we respect nature and use fresh and high-quality produce that is as local and organic as possible,” Colagreco tells me in an interview. “Singapore offers lots of culinary products that we cannot find in Europe, so it’s good for the team to discover new ingredients and be inspired.” Forget about checking previous diners’ social media for sneaks of what’s served. “If there is an excellent ingredient we want to use in our menu, we will develop a new dish on the spot, even if it is one hour before service,” he adds.
Colagreco was here pre-opening and has since left the pop-up in the hands of right-hand man Luca Mattioli, and a team that includes local hires, such as this year’s MasterChef Singapore winner Derek Cheong. The 24-year-old engineering student is understandably thrilled. “I have been learning lots about seasonal produce and new techniques. Seeing how the entire brigade in different stations work hand in hand to create a degustation menu is a very fulfilling experience,” Cheong says.
Ditto for diners like me who learn, within three hours, to ruminate about a dish instead of merely assessing it as a hit or miss. Courses such as a marine flan with razor clams and purple bora flowers and a meticulously made artichoke tart topped with at least a hundred caper petals were layered aesthetic and palate delights.
The match between a sous-vide, binchotan-finished banana flower and a tart sudachi sauce with orange trout eggs, tapioca and chives was less compelling, until a memorable Georgian wine with a gentle tea profile and drawn-out apricot finish bridged the divide.
The sweet pineapple notes from the marigold and snow chrysanthemum sauce accompanying a black cod were also a new experience for one used to savory sauces with fish. Later, Mattioli revealed that it was a dish they had tried to perfect for years at Mirazur, and the flowers sourced locally yielded the elusive desired intensity. He gushed: “The sauce is way richer, more intense, and easier to do just because the flowers here are an explosion of flavor.”
How’s that for national pride? As well as some salve for the respective S$460 and S$575 net price tags for lunch and dinner? At any rate, in light of the €320 (approximately S$512) rate for nine courses at the original restaurant, consider it transport savings for a brief summer trip to France. And don’t forget to add the wine pairing; it truly brings dégustation to another level.
mandala.club/reservations; S$388 for a six-course lunch dégustation menu and S$488 for a nine-course dinner; beverage pairing from S$128 for a non-alcoholic option.
All photos courtesy of Mirazur except as noted.