Preludio review: Author's cuisine debuts in Singapore, led by chef Fernando Arevalo

Preludio review: Author's cuisine debuts in Singapore, led by chef Fernando Arevalo

The first chapter

Text: Janice Sim

Most folks would assume that the chef usually has the final say in the kitchen. The first narrative, the finishing touches, the final call... cheffy things etc.

A part of that is true; but a chef is also bounded by the restaurant's identified cuisine, by his or her ethnicity, past experiences and accolades. In Preludio — our city's latest fine dining restaurant, none of those things matter. It all stems from the enigmatic expression of author's cuisine, reiterated by Colombian chef-owner Fernando Arevalo, who was previously heading the kitchens of Bistecca Tuscan Steakhouse and Artemis Grill.

Chef Fernando Arevalo

Author's cuisine is a territory where you're free to roam, mix flavours, colours, textures and styles. No one is sworn to fix up an Italian meal just because you're Italian, conform to the French plating or pressured to please a hungry hoard of Instagram diners. We could go on and on about the intriguing concept, but we'll save that for another story.

When we heard Preludio's first chapter was going to be monochrome, we were stumped. A party of checkered tiles or furniture dipped in black ink? None of that. Instead to our delight, the brief is meant for the food and drinks here. You might ask: how does the wines work? Comeback: Their grapes are harvested on black and white soil. Boom — let the theatrics begin. 

Every dish served at Preludio is a result of the affinity and personal stories of various food growers and producers across the globe — in return, under chef Fernando's midas touch, colours are stripped, revealing what's raw and what's pure. First, a cloud-like pool of cold yogurt foam encasing burrata, cubes of French white beetroot within. A sweet start, spiked with mildly savoury elements of the baked beet as well as the cheese. The next dish arrives; and it clearly looks like the same one we just polished. Except it was warm; and eventually a clever rouse witholding a savoury alter ego to the first course. We'll leave you to discover the surprise yourself.

Preludio Singapore Chef Fernando

You'll soon realise that nothing is as what it seems here. Most of the plates here reveal a base that conceals elements of surprises underneath. For instance, smoked eel and a myriad of foreign greens (think pickled organic lampascioni bulbs, root vegetables that you'll have to be educated on and black trumpet mushrooms) stowed under a stunning fan-like rice cracker. No prizes for guessing its colour. Then things got more moreish — al dente agnolotti filled with butternut squash and dabbled with parmesan sauce, a succulent toothfish (that we dub to be the better cousin of the cod) brined in a midly spicy tom yam broth and paired with a silky white cauliflower puree. Its skin gets a charcoal sooting thanks to pulvarised dehydrated kalmata olives.

Preludio Singapore Chef Fernando

As for the final savoury main? The iberico pork shoulder — decadently tender and deftly marinated with a medley of spices. But not complete without a tiny but important side component of grape tomatoes (grown in Naples) sealing in smokey sweet juices within. 

Perhaps we forgot about the monochromatic memo towards the end, because we were slightly distracted by the piquant flavours and table conversations. But we like to think, that as poetic as author cuisine sounds, its intentions are as innocent as putting up a stellar plate for the diner. 

Preludio's first chapter of Monochrome will stay from 12-16 months, before a new chapter begins.
Lunch service will start from 19 November.
182 Cecil St, #03-01/02 Frasers Tower, Tel: 6904 5686