Malaysia seems to have been excluded from the fine dining frenzy that has engulfed our northern and southern neighbours. Singapore, particularly in Marina Bay Sands, has been luring in superstar chefs for sometime now while Bangkok’s buzz sees no signs of abating, thanks in part to the mercurial Gaggan Anand for constantly keeping the city in the gourmet news, be it the guessing games over his new venture(s), the success of his former protégé, pharmacy journalist-turned-Michelin-starred chef Garima Arora of Gaa, or the launch of Wet, his wine bar where entrance is gained via a (thankfully make-believe) toilet.
But for those among us who prefer a more discreet and elegant approach to fine dining, the recent arrival of the great Anne-Sophie Pic in Asia is indeed cause for celebration. Anne-Sophie, the daughter of feted chef Jacques Pic, took the helm of the family restaurant, Maison Pic, in 1997 and, within a decade, restored its three-Michelin stars, making her the fourth woman in the world to receive France’s culinary Holy Grail of ratings. Her eponymous restaurant in Lausanne is Pic’s second property, followed by Paris and London, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Her latest, however, is located the farthest away from home and marks her first foray in Asia — at the newly-restored grande dame hotel, the Raffles Singapore.
La Dame de Pic (French for “queen of spades”), also the name of her London and Parisian restaurants, now holds court where The Raffles Grill used to be. Although I have yet to experience Pic’s latest outpost, a recent meal in Lausanne, at the legendary Beau-Rivage Palace hotel is enough to make me want to secure a reservation post-haste.
Clued-in connoisseurs or savvy Swiss bankers know to visit from Tuesdays to Fridays for Pic’s bargainous business lunch where CHF95 per person treats you to one of the finest meals you can have in the infamously expensive country, complete with a stunning view overlooking Lac Léman (Lake Geneva, in English) as a non-edible bonus. The business lunch menu comprises three courses (not including the magnificent bread basket, amuse-bouches and mignardises) and varies with the seasons. For my late spring meal, I began with a dish of organic egg and wild morel mushrooms accompanied by the prettiest, most petite pie, laced with nettle juice and brimming with shavings of Gstaad cheese so fine it looked as if it was prepared by the fairies.
Next, a dish of herb-marinated saddle and shoulder of lamb from the southern canton of Valais, where the famous triangular (or Toblerone-associated) peak of the Matterhorn may be found. Green Sichuan pepper was used to perk the flavours up while the deliciously named side of “Green and Greedy Peas” rounded things off beautifully. What Pic excels in is the usage of fresh, local produce and a great respect for Mother Nature, harvesting the best of the season and employing her flawless technique to draw out optimum flavours from ingredients sourced from a crack team of producers, like butcher Yannick Chapuis, Jacques Duttweiller for cheese, Charlotte Landolt for herbs and Patrick and Corinne Rosset for spices.
Dessert was a gariguette strawberry vacherin with lemon-thyme ice cream, whipped cream and meringue flavoured with Bataks Bay strawberry marmalade although, in hindsight, I should have opted to supplement my lunch with a selection from the truly magnificent cheese trolley, which boasts a spectacular choice of fresh and aged beauties. The wine list is also worth perusing, with a highly interesting array of local tipples as well. For an easy-drinking afternoon, we plumped for a fresh and flinty 2016 bottle of Vase No 10-Domaine Mermetus, made using Chasellas grapes (Switzerland’s most important and widely planted white varietal) by Henri et Vincent Chollet, a winery based in Lavaux. But if you are celebrating, naturally all the best names in mondo vino are at your disposal.
Anne-Sophie Pic, The Beau-Rivage Palace, Place du Port 17-19, CH-1006, Lausanne, Switzerland. Tues-Sat, 12-2pm; 7-9.30pm. For reservations, call +41 (21) 613 3339.
This article first appeared on Aug 12, 2019 in The Edge Malaysia.