Enigma’s 8-course tasting menu is priced smartly: at $230, it’s not an eat-here-every-week affair, yet it isn’t so costly as to become seemingly prohibitive unless phrases like my yacht also escapes your lips (Sushi Masaki Saito, this is directed to you). It’s a place to visit if you are celebrating an occasion or to really unwind, which is where I found myself a couple of days before Christmas. Another year of work was in the rearview mirror and the holidays were about to begin – why not get it started with a bang?
I wanted to give my brain a rest… no more decisions, just feed my body with provisions and provide a few hours of blissful conversation to melt away the stress. It seemed to start in that vein as a warm shot of Enigma’s immune booster was presented at the table. Yet, before we could cheers to good health, a host of decisions had to be made: did we want a juice ($75), cocktail ($130) or wine pairing to go with the meal? Did the occasion need some extra indulgence because we could get a spoon of sturgeon caviar ($80) added into the lobster chawanmushi or have an extra alba truffle dish? Please… just let the table have the lovely warm ginger citrus shot before inundating us with pesky decisions.
Luckily, once the pairing and supplementary questions were out of the way, we didn’t need to decide on anything else, other than what steak knife to use – more on that later. Instead, we were treated to two delicious snacks: a wonderful corn tartlet made from an impossibly thin crispy shell holding a buttery sweet corn espuma studded with popped kernels and other crunchy nutty bits that made me moan; and a chicken skin sandwich piped with a lovely miso-butter mousse. Yum!
What looks like a salad comes next, baked leaves of black cabbage, kale and spinach piled around squash and a smoked foie gras centre. Each bite is rich and oily… much too oily for my taste.
The lovely beetroot tuna cannoli were more up my alley, the sheets of ruby beetroot sandwiching chunks of tuna in a horseradish cream. Or the following kombu poached potato where chunks of soft humble potato were augmented with creamy uni and lovely crispy potato frizzles that made me want to lick the dish.
Of course, the chunks of delicately barely poached through lobster are delicious, but that silky egg of the chawanmushi was the star, each bite filled with so much flavour that made me wonder if this was going to be the peak of the meal.
This was paired with a crispy lobster kromeski, a crispy croquette that was tasty, but nothing compared to the egg, and a seaweed salad that could really benefit from being cut into more manageable bites.
In a gimmicky manner, a box of knives is brought to the table, and we’re asked to select one for the meat courses to come. It’s a strange interlude, perhaps meant to create excitement or a sense of participation. While it wasn’t a distraction I minded, it also didn’t really add much to the meal either and is likely annoying for the two staff members who needs to occupy themselves with the task.
Quite frankly, the following BBQ Iberico pork was so melt-in-your-mouth that I could have cut the coin of loin with a butter knife. It was a sing from the heavens type of dish that makes me appreciate the prized Iberico pig. The white peach salad, XO sauce, and dollops of apple gelee all did an excellent job at complimenting the pork.
Executive Chef Quinton Bennett comes out for the last savoury dish and explains that he uses PEI beef as he loves that the cows are finished with potatoes to give the meat an extra richness. The steak didn’t disappoint, and the accompanying king oyster mushrooms were fantastic dusted with bone marrow and the pickled onion petals such a lovely contrast against the meaty plate. Now that’s a way to finish.
Dessert begins with a plate of fallen leaves made from various juices. It’s a beautiful start, our spoons brimming with crispy textures and sweet flavours that made me wistful that the meal was nearing the end.
A trio of petit four are presented with a lovely wafer cake, citrus gelee, and a really large indulgent chocolate truffle.
All this is to warm us up for the fruit tree, which Chef Quinton cheekily tells us to get our cameras ready to “Instagram the hell out of the dish”. It’s certainly the most photographed dish of the menu, the gleaming red apples just calling out to the picked and eaten.
Like the first bite of the meal, you’re greeted with a fluffy heavenly cream that’s wrapped around a slightly savoury dill laced salad centre that really works. A fantastic last bite that takes Enigma FOUR days to prepare. Boy did I feel guilty for not taking a few more photos.
To end, tables are given a goody bag for breakfast. My only complaint, and the reason why Enigma did not score a 9 out of 10, is that these takeaway bags are made per couple. If you’re dining with friends (like in our case) and do not live with your dining companion, it makes for an awkward end to the meal.
Enigma, if you’re going to give something away, just make it so that each person gets something to go. Or keep it simple and have everyone leave with just the menu. Either way, the meal was great, why have someone leave on a strange note?
Address: 23 St. Thomas Street
Gastro World's Grading System
- Anything under 5 - I really disliked and will never go back
- 6 - decent restaurant but I likely won't return
- 7 - decent restaurant and I will likely return
- 8 - great restaurant that I'd be happy to recommend
- 9 - fantastic restaurant that I would love to visit regularly and highly recommend
- 10 - absolute perfection!
Is That It? I Want More!
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