Review - Michelin-Star Dining at The Cliff: Featuring Chef Saul Bolton from New York

Chef Saul Bolton, the man behind the eight-years-consecutively Michelin-starred Saul in New York, was at The Cliff from 9-13 July as part of the restaurant's 3-part Michelin Chef series. I was very privileged to have a chance to taste his creations on 11 July as Openrice's 25 Days Challenge winner.

The Cliff is located at The Singapore Hotel Resort and Spa Sentosa. It is an alfresco concept overlooking an expanse of sea and the place feels like a hidden sanctuary with its dim lights and lush environment. The night's menu was specially put together by Chef Bolton just for this four-day dining event.

Upon arrival, we were greeted with a delicious glass of champagne and a warm basket of wonderful bread with an accompanying platter of butter, olive oil and other assorted condiments.
Assortment of Bread
The 6-course dinner menu started with a simple, elegantly presented amuse-bouche of Spanish Octopus, Bacalao and Oyster. The Bacalao, or dried salted cod fish rehydrated again when ready to cook, was encased in a thin fried batter. There was a nice bite to this and the texture together with the slightly smoky taste was pretty new.

The spanish octopus was done with a touch of paprika sauce. It was a little too chewy though I thought. 

Amuse-bouche of Spanish Octopus, Bacalao & Oysters
The freshly shucked oyster was slippery smooth in the mouth and the fresh taste was further accentuated by the sublime saltiness of the accompanying liquid in the shell, with the sweetness from the oyster and a hint of sour from the drizzling of lemon. 

The leftover juices in the shell were so good even on its own that I slurped it dry. I was never a fan of oysters but I am a convert after this. My favourite out of the three starters.

Crudo of Japanese Hamachi, Ponzu Gelee, Ginger and Puffed Jasmine Rice
This was an interesting contrast of textures between the smoothness of the hamachi sashimi and crunchiness of the puffed jasmine rice, which reminded me of Japanese rice crackers. Light and clean on the palate.

Chawanmushi of Sea Urchin, Warm Black Truffle Vinaigrette
Our normal chawanmushi upgraded a thousand times over. The creamy sea urchin provided a zing of seafood sweetness. Chef Bolton mentioned this as his personal favourite on the menu (when I asked him after).

Soup in the style of Menudo, Fruits de Mer, Pozole, Cilantro
The soup was robust in flavour, but perhaps a little too concentrated. Needless to say, the ingredients were all fresh, but one of it had a distinctly pungent smell to it. Not sure what it was but the top layer had a slight stickiness in texture, which came apart to reveal a rubbery smooth second layer underneath. My guess is beef tripe. 

French Turbot, Fennel, Piquillas, Saffron Sauce
The turbot came apart in neat little firm pieces when forked, with none of the flakiness of the usual fish meat. It had a nice buttery fragrance to it with a slight crisp on the outside from the searing. Paired together with the fennel which had a spiciness that shot up the nose the same way wasabi does and sweet piquilla peppers, this was a winning combination in taste. Another favourite of the night for me.

My plus one, my mum, picked the lamb for the choice of main. I had to pick the lobster as I don't fancy lamb (lamb meat usually has this accompanying overpowering odour).

North American Hard Shelled Lobster, Coconut Rice, Long Bean, Curry
The coconut rice was aromatic and all in soft, distinct unbroken grains - somewhat resembling the texture from the Thai dish Mango Sticky Rice sans the stickiness. The lobster meat didn't have any extra sauce or seasoning to it; unneeded too because the lobster meat was robust with sweetness . The curry resembled Japanese curry. Sadly though, it was a tad too salty.

Tasting of Australian Lamb, Roasted Carrots, Almond, Currants
Despite my lamb-aversion, I still decided to try a piece hesitantly. Lucky I did. Too good this was, done just right. Each piece of meat cut from this lamb steak was juicy and full of flavour. 

The texture of the meat was faultless: soft and not overly chewy. It tasted very much like premium grilled beef steak, and would have gotten away with it if not for the very slight hint of odour remaining that I think is impossible for lamb to be rid of completely. Another surprise came from the roasted carrots, which were so good - they were sweet and had crispy ends to it. 

We overheard loud and repeated exclamations of "this is so good" from the adjacent table of all-males dining. I concur.

Strawberry Lychee, Coconut Tapioca, Mango-Passion Sorbet
The sweets to round off the meal didn't let down too. In particular, the Mango-Passion Sorbet was very refreshing and tasty. We would continue having it non-stop if we had stomach space and weren't limited by the small portion given. Likely handmade by the chef, who is known for his strong belief in making everything in-house using fresh produce.

Orange Scented Cheesecake, Raspberry Swirl Ice Cream, Oatmeal crumble
Indeed, an eye-opening meal that is a delicious amalgation across East-West cultures. The chef even good-naturedly extended an invitation to drop in on Saul or any of his restaurants in New York should I ever visit. There weren't mind-blowing moments at every single point of the meal, but in the instances there were, they well did spectacularly.


The night was also wonderful because of the impeccable service from the service staff at The Cliff. Once again, thank you Openrice for this wonderful opportunity!

The Cliff 
2 Bukit Manis Rd, Sentosa, S099891
Daily from 6.30pm-midnight