Chef Bruno Menard himself was right at the door of &MADE to greet us when we popped by last week for a tasting. No, he had no idea who we were -- it was all just part of his daily routine at the newly opened restaurant.
"Sit anywhere you like! We're very casual here," he said cheerfully as he ushered us in. "it's just a burger joint!" he added before dashing off back to the bustling kitchens. And all throughout lunch service, Menard flitted from tables to kitchen, chatting with diners, and sometimes even taking orders himself. It was not a sight you see often, especially when you consider the three Michelin stars that decorate his chef's whites.
What is it: Any self-proclaimed foodie in Singapore worth their weight in salt would have at least heard about &MADE, Menard's collaboration with noted restaurateur Olivier Bendel. Unlike the glitzy L'Osier in Tokyo which Menard hailed from, &MADE is, essentially in the words of Menard himself, a "burger joint". Not just any burger joint though, mind you -- this is one for serious burger connoisseurs with a taste for the gourmet variety.
The look: &MADE is a sight even from across the street, its bright overhead lamps, quirky art installations and monochromatic tiles beckoning cheerfully while the casually-dressed wait staff deftly maneuvers through boisterous groups of ravenous diners and the narrow spaces in between tables. For a restaurant that opened barely even a month ago, the amount of attention it has already garnered is nothing short of amazing.
Must-try: We were immediately drawn to the intriguing-sounding "Salads to Drink" ("Life Booster!", the menu declared, S$9 each), which turned out to be sleek pitchers of blended vegetable mix served with a side of savoury bites. The Yellow (carrot, orange and ginger) is reminiscent of a fruit juice with much more punch, while the Green, a vaguely off-putting sounding concoction of green pea, wasabi and mint, is in actuality, smooth and refreshing with just the very slightest minty aftertaste.
Of course, feel free to skip the formalities of having salad if you're just there for the burgers (aren't we all?). Don't be fooled by the gourmet tag on the burger -- it's every bit as hearty and full-sized as its American counterparts, albeit a more refined version.
The signature B Burger (S$19) presents a juicy dry-aged beef patty tucked with a delicious onion confit in between two perfectly-toasted brioche buns, while packing some serious meaty goodness is The 3 Little Pigs burger (S$23) with its bacon, pork filet and chorizo patty, and shitake mushrooms. Our favourite was the DD Burger (S$22), a chi-chi duck confit burger slathered with a wonderful green apple and green lime mayonnaise that gives a zesty acidic contrast. If you're after something lighter, Menard's delicate Toastoo (from S$14), or his take on a sandwich made from buckwheat crepes will provide guilt-free indulgence. All burgers come served with a side of crisp fries (add S$3 for the truffle variation), while a green salad accompany the Toastoos.
Tough as it may be, it's best to save room for dessert. Absolutely sinful and worth every artery-clogging bite is the hot caramel lava cake (S$15), which oozes thick, slightly bitter caramel sauce and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice-cream sprinkled with flakes of the French Gavottes Crepe Dentelle Cookies.
The White Chocolate sundae (S$12) is a dreamy combination of passion fruit coulis, coconut shavings layered with soft ice-cream and creme Chantilly and topped off with white chocolate sauce. It looked so creamy and luscious that it prompted a couple of kindly-looking French gentlemen at the next table to ask for a bite. "Oishi desu ne!" one of them quipped. We're not Japanese, but the sentiment was mutual.
Verdict: While there's no denying the quality of burgers at &MADE, quality is a little inconsistent; we paid a visit again on a night when chef Menard wasn't helming the kitchens, and the previously perfectly toasted buns were sadly, soggy and cold. Nevertheless, &MADE is off to a fantastic start, and if anything, has made us hungrier for Menard's second venture (a full-fledged restaurant this time) opening in Asia Square in the upcoming months.
&MADE, #01-04/05/06 Pacific Plaza, 9 Scotts Road, www.andmade.sg