Bar-Roque Grill By Stephane Istel

The Baroque style of architecture, decorative art, music, literature and philosophy flourished throughout Europe from the late 16th to the early 18th century. It is characterized by exaggerated motion and clear, easily interpreted detail to produce drama, exuberance and grandeur.
In the same baroque era, the pleasures of a formal dinner reached new gastronomic heights with the discovery of different and exotic foods and spices, and the creation of new recipes. For the first time in history, the dining room became a clearly defined space within a house strictly for the enjoyment of food. A place where the pleasures of the table was shared with one's lovers, friends and family.
Inspired by this style and philosophy, the Bar-Roque Grill, the latest addition to the vibrant Singapore dining scene, opened its door for the first time just 2 weeks ago. Located at the corner of Amara Hotel in the up-and-coming hipster zone of Tanjong Pagar, the Bar-Roque Grill is the brainchild of Chef-owner Stephane Istel, formerly the Executive Chef of DB Bistro Moderne @ MBS by Daniel Boulud, and co-owner Kori Millar, the former General Manager of Sky57 @ MBS by Justin Quek.
I was invited to the new establishment for a food tasting event last week and was intrigued by the interior décor the moment I stepped into the restaurant. A 'fine art graffiti' piece by Singapore graffiti artist Ceno2 "hanging" on the wall of the semi-private dining room caught my attention. The baroque-style cherub angel baby was painted holding and sipping from a fine wine decanter with a graffiti letter "B" in the background. Baroque inspired elements of decor and design could be seen and felt with sophisticated wallpaper and fine leather contrasted with naturally textured stone and wood, iron and brick. There was an air of luxury and class.

Tarte flambee ($12/$20) were served pre-dinner. The Flammekueche thin-crust pizza made with bacon, onion and mushroom were simply delicious especially when eaten hot, right out of the oven and paired with glass of Alsace white.

Ang Mor's version of Kong Bak Pau, anyone? Although served in traditional bamboo steamers, the braised pork belly buns ($6/piece) tasted nothing close to the soy-braised Kong Bak Paus that we are familiar with but not in a bad way. The pork belly slices were tenderized and marinated in pineapple juice for hours and sandwiched with pickled cucumber, leeks and espelette pepper.

Chef Stephane personally served us this "homemade" chicken vegetable soup with shaved black truffles. The piping hot soup was very flavourful although a bit too salty for my palate.

I really enjoyed the Char-Grilled Octopus salad ($24) served with arugula, tomato confit, almonds and the delicious Romesco sauce. The crunchy and chewy seafood texture was very well balanced by the distinctive flavour of the rocket leaves, sweetness of the roasted tomatos and the nutty and peppery romesco.
If you prefer something lighter, go for the Spinach Salad ($16) with goat cheese, dates and almonds.

Another of my favourites that evening was the little neck clam stew ($22 - appetizer and $32 - Main). The briny clams from New Zealand were perfectly combined with garlic pork sausage, mushroom and white wine in this delightful stew. The stew was served with hunks of grilled sourdough for dipping into the sauce. We were all joking that it would be perfect if Stephane could serve us some steamed rice to go with the tasty gravy.

The dinner reached its culinary climax when Chef Stephane danced to our table again with the perfectly roasted sucking pig ($380, 3 days advanced booking) "under his arm" to say Hi. I wished I could say more words of appreciation to the piglet for sacrificing its delicious self for all of us before the oinky was taken away and reappearing on our table, chopped and ready to be eaten.
Besides the suckling pig, we were treated to a feast of meat, lots of meat, freshly roasted in the $40K rotisserie oven which has a vertical split gearing system installed. This allows meat and even chaudrons of soup and stew to be hung and slowly cooked as the gears rotate. I wish I could have this installed in my kitchen!
We all dug in, the smell of the piglet was heavenly and the skin deliciously crispy. I could hear the crunch in my ears as I savoured every mouth-watering bite.
Free-range whole Challans (French) duck ($250 per duck) rubbed in a five-spice marinade was roasted to perfection. The thinly-sliced meat was lean and tender, collectively voted the best roast of the evening by most of the foodies in the group.
But I personally preferred the prime rib eye roast ($198/kg, 3 days advanced booking)  to the duck. Simple marinade of just salt and pepper managed to bring out the best of the beef. The tender flavorful steak really got my taste buds riled up.
Other must-try's include Chef Stephane's rotisserie free-range French chicken ($38 whole and $20 half) and the roast Australian pork knuckle ($58 - good for 2).

By the time we were near the end of the meat-heavy feast, it was closed to midnight. But the friendly chef showed no sign of fatigue. In fact, his playfulness and energy level surged when he brought out the dessert of the night - Apple Pie "Mom's Recipe". I liked that the "old-fashioned" apple pie ($12), baked with a butter pastry crust and chunky apple wedges, was not overly sweet. Served with rum and raisin ice cream, it was a perfect dessert to cap off a perfect dinner.

I love the décor, ambience, mood and most importantly the food at the Bar-Roque Grill. It is refined yet hearty and traditional yet innovative. I'm sure this new kid on the block is going to take our restaurant scene by storm.

Bar-Roque Grill165 Tanjong Pagar Road#01-00Singapore 088539Tel: (65) 6444 9672
Opening HoursMondays - Fridays. Lunch: 12 pm - 2.30 pm. Dinner: 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Saturdays. Dinner: 6 pm - 10.30 pm
Closed on Sundays