DB Bistro & Oyster Bar serves up classic French (and American) fare in a sophisticated setting without a side of attitude
Fine dining and family-friendly don’t normally pair well together, but on a recent trip to DB Bistro & Oyster Bar at Marina Bay Sands I was pleasantly surprised to see that celebrity Chef Daniel Boulud has managed to marry them like cheese and a fine wine (or Champagne and caviar, as the case may be!).
With a new emphasis on fun, family-style dining – via big communal share plates and fresh, playful menu items from the cocktail list on down – the restaurant is perfect for anyone looking to have a fantastic meal (Boulud is one of the world’s most popular chefs, after all) in a relaxed but still sophisticated setting.
There’s a relaxing summer vibe that seems to pervade the entire restaurant, in fact, from the slight scent of fresh flowers, to the pop music playing on the stereo (a local DJ curates the playlist), to long white marble slab tables, where it almost feels like you’re dining at a friend’s kitchen counter rather than in a fancy restaurant. While Daniel Boulud is one of the world’s most famous French chefs – in New York alone he’s got seven restaurants bearing his name – Singapore is one of only two Boulud locations outside North America. “He may be French, but Daniel Boulud is a New Yorker,” the general manager reminded us, and the restaurant’s new food menu is very much a reflection of this, with down-home American fare like oyster sliders, crab cakes, and a traditional New England Seafood Boil.
We kicked off with a couple of the new cocktail offerings, highlighted by the oh-so juicy “Summer in Sicily” (blood orange Campari, Ketel One vodka, Sambuca, honey fresh basil and lemon); the subtle and resfreshing “Bonsai Bloom” (Mazuizumi Sake – which isn’t even available for retail in Singapore – along with gin, yuzu, lychee juice and fresh cucumber); and, my personal favorite, the “Passion Bubble Tea” (Mazuizumi sake, fresh passion fruit, passion fruit boba, peach schnapps and Champagne), luscious and juicy but somehow not at all cloyingly sweet. According to General Manager Andrew Burns, the cocktails were conceived to be the perfect capper to a hot day in Singapore, whether you’re out shopping, walking around the CBD, or sightseeing.
I found it interesting to learn that these particularly American items aren’t actually served at DB Bistro in New York (where I would assume people are looking for more French fare). Happily, there’s plenty of that on the menu here too, from beautifully prepared caviar and oysters, to gorgeously delicate and refined seafood cocktails like Hamachi Tartare and Thai Snapper Ceviche. A particular highlight was the silky Lobster Bisque served with yummy herbed cornbread: besides the generous chunks of tender lobster meat, crunchy corn kernels, leeks and bright celery added texture, while saffron, fennel, Cognac and sherry combined with a ribbon of tarragon cream to create a luscious symphony of flavors, all balanced out nicely by the slightly sweet cornbread croutons.
And of course, there’s the phenomenal wine list. I followed the kitchen’s suggestion and enjoyed two fantastic French wines with my meal: a white Loire Muscadet to cut through the fried oysters and Lobster Bisque, and a robust and earthy red Cotes du Rhone to pair with the bold flavours of the seafood boil. DB Bistro is perhaps the only fine dining restaurant at MBS with its own extensive wine cellar (you can even hold private events in there!), and its amazing selection of European wines in particular reallly elevates the cuisine to another level.
As a New Englander I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the seafood boil and how much I enjoyed it: the lobster was tender and succulent (and helpfully pre-cut into claws and tail sections), while the generous serving of steamed mussels, clams and prawns provided a welcome diversion. The sweet corn was a perfect accompaniment, and I was honestly so full at that point I could barely touch the boiled new potatoes or spicy sausage. I was, however, able to make room for the delicious grilled garlic bread served on the side (speaking of bread, few restaurants in Singapore offer such a delectable array of baked temptations, from soft pretzels to flaky cheese schoux pastry). The seafood boil could easily serve 4 people – it’s perfect for a celebration or a big night out, just make sure to come hungry!
Your typically staid French restaurant this is not: during my meal I was delighted to see babies in strollers at two nearby tables. The convivial atmosphere was loud enough to be unbothered by their cries, allowing tables dating couples and big groups sharing bottles of wine to all peacefully co-exist, united only by their quest for delicious food and drink.
DB Bistro & Oyster Bar, The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands, B1-48, 2 Bayfront Avenue, Singapore 018956, Tel: (+65) 6688 8525, www.dbbistro.com/singapore