Located in the middle of Tras Street, the first thing that catches your attention upon stepping into Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl is the sleek interior that conveys a sense of space and openness, a theme that forms the basis for the restaurant’s entire concept. Right at the back of the space is an open kitchen that allows customers to watch as the chefs prepare and plate each dish meticulously, creating an ongoing dialogue between the chef and the diner.
Upon getting seated, the ‘menu’ of the day was placed in front of us – this is simply a list of 28 ingredients sourced directly from Europe based on what was fresh on the day of shipment. In other words, as a diner, you had no idea what dishes you would get throughout the meal. With ingredients that I have never heard of, I was super excited to see what the chef would be preparing for me. No worries – the restaurant also takes into account dietary restrictions, so if you see an ingredient that you cannot/prefer not to eat, they’ll simply cook up something else just for you!
To start off our appetites, we were served a glass of Sauvignon Blanc ($18+/$80+) from Sancerre, France. To maintain the element of surprise, Chef’s Table also doesn’t offer an official wine list, but it does boast a sommelier who would gladly recommend to you which wines would best complement your meal.
Now to the meal itself – our first surprise was a Tomato Gazpacho, which was a slice of Oxheart Tomato served with Roasted King Prawn, Crisp Tapioca and Rocket Leaves and finished with a touch of Olive Oil Caviar. This was a very light dish, with the freshness of each ingredient coming through. In fact, the rocket leaves were actually grown in-house in the mini herb garden next to the kitchen – that’s how fresh things are!
Like I said, Chef’s Table really caters to your preferences. While the others enjoyed their Foie Gras Terrine (which I requested not to eat), I enjoyed my delightfully light Burrata topped with Jamon Iberico, Olives and Semi Dried Tomatoes. The flavours complemented each other very well, with the jamon contributing to the core flavour of the dish and the sundried tomatoes adding a touch of sweetness to further highlight the unique taste of this cheese.
Moving onto the warm dishes, we cozied up to some Monkfish Cheeks, which was served with some Rouille Potatoes, Green Asparagus, Okinawan Spinach and Potato Chips. As a finishing touch, the staff delicately poured the Lobster Sauce over the dish in front of us, creating an aromatic experience that got us excited to try the fish. Like the previous dishes, this was towards the light side, with the focus placed on the distinct taste of each ingredient.
At this point, the chef came out to greet us, which made me realize another element of the restaurant that once again reinforces the idea of an ongoing dialogue – all the diners were seated at high tables such that when the server comes to explain the food or when managers go around for a quick chat, the conversation is held at eye level. At this point of the dinner, I was honestly quite impressed by the level of attention put into the interior design, since I truly felt like I was able to engage in a nice conversation with the restaurant staff.
With the meaty main courses up next, the sommelier recommends us to shift into some Blackprint Cuvee ($24+/$118+), a red wine from Pfalz, Germany.
The first of the two was a Duck Breast served with Heirloom Beetroots, Girole Mushrooms and Crispy Kale. I’m a huge fan of beetroots, especially when they’re as sweet as these, so I finished them in a second. The thin slice of duck breast was a good transition between the lighter fares beforehand and the heavier dish to follow.
We concluded the savory portion of our meal with the Roast Lamb Saddle, which I thought was decent – it didn’t have the distinct lamb taste that some people either love or hate, so that may be a good/bad thing depending on your preference. For me the Braised Lamb Shoulder stole the focus as one of the richer flavors of the dish, since it wasn’t dry at all as I had originally worried. To complete this dish, we also had some Aubergines, Puntarelles and Nasturtiums – definitely an educational dining experience as I learnt about so many new ingredients.
Finally, to my favorite course of any meal – dessert! Even with my high expectations of this given the previous five courses, this Chocolate Vapour exceeded my expectations. Firstly, presentation was great – the dried ice allowed for a very Snapchat worthy video that got everyone all excited. In essence, there were actually two components to the dessert. The first was served atop the glass container, which consisted of some Chocolate Sponge Cake, Chocolate Mousse, some Chocolate Ganache and some Fresh Raspberries. While we ate this, we were also waiting for the second part of the dessert to melt, which was a Chocolate Ice Cream frozen with liquid nitrogen. The texture reminded me a lot of Minimelts / Dippin’ Dots – slightly chewy and less creamy than the usual ice creams.
All in all, I thought this was a wonderful dining experience, especially with the element of surprise that you don’t typically find when dining out. Essentially, you could go there every day and still not get bored, since every night would offer something different. I’m sure you might be slightly skeptical at this point – is it really possible to never repeat their dishes? Amazingly, they actually have a book in which they record all their creations such that not only can they ensure no dishes are ever repeated, but they also can recreate specific dishes if a customer was to return for a specific dish they had. Now there’s not room for cheating!
At Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl, you may opt for a 4-, 6- or 8- course menu with prices going from $98, $128 and $150 respectively. You may have the option of adding $10 to the base cost for an all-savory menu (i.e. no dessert).
Chef’s Table by Chef Stephan Zoisl
Address: 61 Tras St, Singapore 079000
Telephone: +65 6224 4188
Opening Hours: Tuesday – Saturday 6pm to 12am