Average: 3 (1 vote)

This place is worth visiting for the “provocative cuisine.” It’s an apt description for sure—the appetizers are called “foreplay,” the entrees “main affair” and desserts are “lust bites.” But this belies the food—straightforward French cuisine—which is OK but not great. The chef’s specialty is sous vide cooking, which is a method of vacuum cooking food. Not terribly sexy, but certainly healthy and tasty.

Anyone who has been to The Scarlet will have noticed the hotel’s indulgent boudoir-like setting. This same look has been applied to its fine dining establishment, Desire. Like much else in the hotel, its name makes a statement, and it is decorated in dark sultry colors. A lot of attention has been paid to detail—even the menu is designed to fit the restaurant’s image. Glossy full page photos of sensual images with literary quotes punctuate the menu proper, and dishes are given catchy sexy names like “Between the Sheets.” The restaurant manager sports the hotel’s thematic deep red and black colors to synchronize with the hotel’s striking doorman—who resembles Count Dracula. The manager’s service throughout our meal was exemplary, and he clearly ran a tight ship. Given the rather clueless looks on the faces of several staff, we could see why this was necessary. Under the manager’s supervision, our orders were promptly taken and the first course served. And this was where the buildup generated by the ambiance started to flag. Our king prawns with yoghurt mint sauce tasted little of either yoghurt or mint, while the curry crab in herb crepe was overly spicy and cold in the middle. The mains were also mediocre, although there were a few highlights. The rosemary potatoes that came with the veal and creamy mushroom sauce were sweet and garlicky, and enhanced what would have otherwise been a bland dish. The salmon with beurre blanc on asparagus was nondescript and overcooked. Then came dessert—a very nice homemade strawberry and lemon ice cream—which was the best dish they served all night. While the ambiance here is truly well thought out and very stylish, the restaurant needs to improve its food if it is to make its mark as a reputable upscale restaurant, which it is clearly trying hard to be.

Venue Details
Address: Desire, 33 Erskine Rd., Singapore, 069333 Singapore
Phone: 6511-3323
Area: Club Street
Cuisine: European
Price Range: $$
Open since: December, 2004
Opening hours: Mon-Fri 7-10:30am; daily noon-3pm; Mon-Sat 7-11pm; Sat-Sun 7-11am
Reservation recommended, Parking available, Takeaway available, Dress requirements: smart casual
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