High-end, high-brow Nordic fine-diner with stratospheric prices
Claim to fame: Frantzén, the restaurant’s Stockholm flagship, is Sweden’s most unabashedly ritzy eatery
Reason to go: Why travel to Stockholm when the Singapore outpost promises an almost equal experience?
To look out for: Frantzén classics such as the “French toast”
Nine months after the closure of Restaurant Andre, the triple-story, 1930s conservation shop house has been transformed to reveal homey, new Scandinavian interiors and new-to-Singapore, Swedish Chef and co-owner Björn Frantzén who makes sporadic appearances, aided by Executive Chefs Marcus Jernmark from Stockholm and Tristin Farmer on the ground.
Building on the flagship’s brand of “Nordic kaiseki with French perfume” that has earned it massive accolades and a string of global gastro-fans, Restaurant Zén replicates the Frantzén DNA with aplomb. From the wooden produce box that highlights the curated meats, seafood and vegetables on offer, to the snacks served in the lounge; among them beer-poached crustacean with trout roe and dill scented sour cream, and crispy potato roll topped with Vendace roe, red onion rings and dill. The Frantzén heritage is clear as day and its execution impossible to fault.
Guests will find comfort in Frantzén classics, like the signature “French Toast”, a “grande tradition” since 2008, crowned with Parmesan custard and fragile wisps of Alba white truffle, served alongside a bijou cup of truffled oxtail consommé; and riffs on classics, such as the egg custard in hot smoked pork broth topped with ikura pearls, glazed unagi and sea urchin with a lick of soy basting sauce.
Rarely does the restaurant step out of its comfort zone, at least not yet, but when it does, it’s to draw influence from its locale. You will find Malaysian pineapples in the heavily caramelized pineapple tarte tatin brushed with 20-year-old mirin and black cardamom Chantilly, as you will be greeted with tea leaves curated by an old-school, neighborhood tea house.
Zén is an offshoot that would do Frantzén proud. If you’re looking for a Nordic restaurant with its own unique identity, you will be disappointed.
Much like its mother restaurant, Zén provides an immersive dining experience that starts with a parade of snacks in the kitchen on the ground floor, continues with main courses in the second floor dining room and ends with a procession of sweets in the third floor living room. The wine list is about 350 label-strong at the moment with a focus on a small allocation Old World wines; it’s augmented by about 15 types of sake. Service is as sharp as the Swedish midnight sun.