If you are going to make the trip to new contemporary fine-dining restaurant Marguerite, make sure to take the buggy on your way in. It’ll take you on a scenic ride into the heart of Gardens by the Bay, drenched in nature and the warmth of the sunset, foretelling what’s to come.
Upon arrival, you’ll be ushered into a modern-looking enclave within the Flower Dome, where vining tendrils of flora and fauna intertwine perfectly with the clean white marble of Scandinavian interior design. On the restaurant floor, two exquisite hand-carved boulders take centre-stage, their imposing presence contrasting with details that may be smaller, but lend equal weight to the restaurant’s beauty: pastel-coloured thin-stemmed wine glasses, a gilded dessert spoon in the shape of a leaf, and right in the centre of the table: a pristine vase made of porcelain, holding a cluster of Marguerite daisies.
Menus are brought out by congenial staff members who don’t shy away from a conversation with any of the tables they are serving. And there is a lot to chat about—the restaurant’s unique beverage programme, for example. Amidst a collection of fine wines you’ll find some stellar non-alcoholic offerings that reveal the same complexity as their boozy counterparts. One particularly fragrant concoction of caramelised gala apples and celeriac is clarified and filtered before being infused with oak chips, resulting in the fruity profile and vanilla-esque top notes of Chardonnay. It is, however, lighter on the palate, and has none of the morning-after hangover effects.
Still, Marguerite’s serene ambience, warm service and vivacious drinks are merely setting the stage for the true stars of the show: the dishes that arrive at your table from chef-owner Michael Wilson’s trio of open kitchen islands—essentially a three-top stage for the team’s culinary theatre.
The food veers between produce-centric plates that allow ingredients to shine in their purest form, and carefully-engineered marvels of gastronomy. Amongst the latter set is the picturesque but intriguing Watermelon Ravioli—a stretchy film of dehydrated watermelon juice filled with goat cheese and pistachio. It is a dish that raises more than few eyebrows once its brought to the table, but no doubts remain once you try it and the flavours meld together—pure, harmonious bliss.
The Black Trumpet Cigar—intimidating as it may sound—is another example of Wilson’s innovative food chemistry. The dish sees charcoal-activated celeriac puree fashioned into crisp tuilles and filled with precisely-seasoned wild black trumpet mushroom duxelles, for an earthy, texturally-complex bite.
Having grown up in Australia but tasted fine food around the world before earning his first Michelin star in the restaurant Phenix in Shanghai, chef Wilson’s journey into Singapore’s culinary scene is one guided by a clear focus on premium produce.
Accordingly, the French heirloom carrots he uses in a dish named after the same ingredient are startlingly delicious, slow-cooked in their own juice and paired with a smorgasbord of supporting characters: crisp shards of yeast, roasted and sliced Marcona almonds, and a vibrant sauce of Valencia oranges. The clear star of the dish, however, remains the humble carrot, rolled in a mix of roasted pulp and muscovado sugar to bring out its inherent sweetness. It is easy to conclude: never before has the memory of a carrot lingered so long after a meal.
Other star dishes include the striking New Caledonian Blue Prawn “Tagliolini”. Here, the quote marks are employed because it is the blue prawn that is minced and transformed into noodles, served in an aromatic bisque and topped with wild scampi caviar from Australia that impart delicate briny flavour and resemble precious gemstones.
But if there is one course out of the seven in the tasting menu that will have you talking for weeks, it is the simply named, stunningly-composed Eel. Described as chef Wilson’s ode to the classic fish and wasabi pairing, Eel elevates the enduring tradition to new heights with a fine mix of gastronomic masterminding and clever use of produce.
Set atop a smoky, perfectly-cooked piece of Eel are juicy Granny Smith matchsticks and an Oyster Leaf, an incredible plant with the distinctive oceanic flavour of a bivalve. By the time you get over this vegetarian doppelgänger, you’ll have encountered the dish’s crowning glory: a savoury horseradish gelato—cold, refreshing and infused with the unmistakable shock of wasabi.
As you embark on dessert—a particularly beautiful Tropical Fruit Vacherin is modelled after the restaurant’s namesake flower and features coconut-flecked meringue petals surrounding a bright mango-passionfruit sorbet centre—you might be feeling some despair that the meal is coming to an end. Worry not, there is always next season, with a new set of gorgeous produce for chef Wilson to apply his finesse to. Wash everything down with the Faux Sauternes, a non-alcoholic nod to the saccharine flavour of the traditional dessert wine, and be on your way—it is time to return to real life.