Pamplemousse: Bistro + Bar

[NOTE: This restaurant has unfortunately closed.]

Type of Institution: Non-vegetarian (has vegetarian menu)

Address: 7 Dempsey Road, $01-04, Singapore 249671
Tel: +65 6475 0080
Website: http://www.pamplemousse.com.sg

Opening Hours: (Lunch) Tues-Fri 12 pm – 2.30 pm, Sat & Sun 11.30 am – 2.30 pm,
(Dinner) Tue-Sun 6.30 pm – 10.30 pm

Overall: 8.3/10

I’m often lured into many restaurants in Dempsey by their good marketing efforts only to be disappointed by generic and uninspiring menus. But recently, Pamplemousse reignited my interest in the area with their combination of flawless service and creative European cuisine made with superior ingredients. The ambience is ideal for a business lunch or a semi-formal date.

When I surveyed Pamplemousse’s rather short menu, I was surprised to find that the only vegan friendly/vegan-izable item was a salad. As I was accustomed to doing in the more upmarket restaurants in town (where chefs are typically more flexible and enjoy more artistic license with the dishes offered), I asked the manager if it was possible to custom-make a vegan dish. You could imagine the happy glow on my face when he unexpectedly brandished a vegetarian menu from behind a counter. God knows why Pamplemousse does not insert the vegetarian menu within the main menu as most restaurants with vegetarian menus do, especially since it was clear that at least an equal amount of time and effort was invested into the vegetarian menu. It was certainly one of the best I’ve seen in town. Here’s a good idea of what to expect:

Artichoke Salad

Pamplemousse: Bistro + BarPerfectly cooked fresh artichoke, sweet toasted pine nuts, juicy seared mango cubes and cherry tomatoes mixed with a base of extremely fresh baby spinach and crisp rocket leaves, and topped off with a slightly tangy starfruit and kalamansi dressing. Dried, sweet and crispy starfruit chips made for an interesting addition. Highly recommended. ($18)

Saffron and Pandan Quinoa “Risotto” (sans cheese)

Pamplemousse: Bistro + BarI’m always happy to see the superfood quinoa in local restaurants (it is way too rare!) and Pamplemousse did it justice – the dish featured perfectly fluffy and slightly crunchy quinoa with a hint of saffron and the subtle aroma of pandan. Another highlight of the dish was the fresh and juicy roasted cherry tomatoes, which happily popped and burst into sweet explosions in my mouth with a slight pressure. However, I wasn’t quite as impressed by the smoked shitake (lacked flavour), caramelized cauliflower (too soft), the plain French beans (boring), and the haricot beans (ditto). On the whole, I enjoyed the “risotto” but it needed something more to be sensational. ($22)

(On a side note, if you’re a conscientious, ethically-minded eater, you might be interested to hear about the recent quinoa wars. To start you off with two articles: The Guardian queried whether vegans can “stomach the unpalatable truth about” buying imported quinoa, which prompted Slate’s criticism that ““the idea that worldwide demand for quinoa is causing undue harm where it’s produced is an oversimplification at best. At worst, discouraging demand for quinoa could end up hurting producers rather than helping them.”)

Sorbet

Pamplemousse: Bistro + BarI tried both the lychee sorbet and mango sorbet as they were vegan. The former was sweet, light and refreshing but not particularly exciting. I preferred the latter, which was less sweet, denser and had a tangy aftertaste. ($6/scoop)

Conclusion: Pamplemousse’s vegetarian menu pushes the creative limits of veg*n food in Singapore – I urge you to try it. Great service and reasonable prices are added bonuses.

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