Momotaro tomatoes. Foie gras terrine. Cilantro oil. These are hardly ingredients you'll find on a plate offered to a child, but over at fine dining restaurant Saint Pierre, delicately crafted dishes layering these luxe ingredients line the five-course 'Flora & Fauna' menu specially designed for little ones.
You won't find any dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets or spaghetti Bolognese on Chef Emmanuel Stroobant's children's menu here. Novelty foods and cursory canteen fare find no pride of place in the dining experience. Instead, kids are treated like the tiny adults they are, taking their place at tables lined with perfectly-starched linen, navigating the same silverware and paper-thin glass tumblers as their parents — sans wine, of course.
While other fine dining establishments are quick to leave the kids at the door, Stroobant, himself a father of three, believes in starting children early at the table. "It's part of education," Stroobant explains, "Kids need to study mathematics or geography and their knowledge of that specific field might be used once or twice a month, but eating is something we do thrice a day within a very social environment — especially here in Singapore, where people love to talk about food."
When designing a menu for younger palates, the Belgium-born chef doesn't reduce the portions of each dish or cherry-pick ingredients children might be partial to. "As creatures of habit, kids always end up eating the same thing, especially if their parents or helpers are the ones planning the meals," Stroobant explains. "So we let them try new things, but we take care to avoid extremely strong flavours. We want to train their tongue to understand the difference between salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and umami notes."
Who better to taste test Saint Pierre's children's menu than, well, children themselves? To that end, we roped in siblings Talia and Kaiden Quinn (aged 7 and 10 respectively), self-professed fans of burgers, pizza, and pasta. They came with an appetite, no reservations, and plenty of questions: "Do I have to eat like a fancy person?", "Can I take a selfie with this dish?", "All this is just the appetiser?".
Despite the culinary fireworks that went into the mains, the one course the kids kept reaching out for turned out to be the bread basket. The trio of freshly baked mini baguettes, thyme brioche, and chestnut bread sided with two kinds of butter was quite simply, irresistible. Carb-loading was clearly not an issue here.
When presented with such intricately plated dishes as the turnip with coconut and avocado, their first instinct was to take the elements of the dish apart. Reaching for the crisp tuile with their hands, gingerly tasting each component, attempting to put a name to new flavours and textures. From scallops to kombu, the kids ate them all. "I'm so impressed they are eating all the things they don't eat at home," shares Tara Davenport, Kaiden and Talia's mother.
The dessert of dark chocolate mousse vanished from the plate as quickly as it arrived. None of the kids whipped out their phones to document this dish. The veritable work of edible art was enjoyed as it was meant to be — with gusto and glee.
As the petit fours hit the table, Kaiden proclaimed: "I want to have my actual birthday here." It's safe to say that Saint Pierre had earned its stripes from some of its youngest diners that day.
Below, a look at other dishes the kids ate:
Saint Pierre. #02-02B One Fullerton. 1 Fullerton Road. Tel: 6438 0887