Review: JAG at Duxton Road, by French Michelin Star Chef, Jérémy Gillon, and FLOW Bar, by award-winning mixologist Ricky Paiva

There are a few clichés about French food that I’ve heard one too many times: French people eat frogs, they love cheese, and they are very proud of their wine. When it comes to Restaurant JAG, these clichés hit the nail on the head; and thank God because I love these things about French cuisine (who doesn’t love a good wine?).

JAG is a 1-Michelin star contemporary French fine dining restaurant founded by Chef, Jérémy Gillon and Restaurateur Anant Tyagi. It’s located along that stretch of Duxton Road that you have to go round and round just to squeeze your way into a tight parallel parking (save yourself the trouble and park at Craig Place — level 2 comes out straight to Hill). It’s a cosy space with just six tables that accommodates up to 16 people at a go.

Above: Chef, Jérémy Gillon of Restaurant JAG

Their new autumn menu recently launched and it centres on freshly harvested ingredients from boutique farms in France and Japan, and sustainable farms in Malaysia. Expect a full degustation menu that lets you try a bit of everything; and even though the portions are small, you’ll be immensely full at the end of the meal. Here’s the full experience:

We started the night off at FLOW bar, which sits just above JAG, and is helmed by Ricky Paiva, a Californian native who found his way to Singapore and quickly became a celebrated mixologist in the local bar scene (he was the head bartender at Regent hotel, which has the award-winning Manhattan Bar). 

Above: Ricky Paiva of FLOW Bar

FLOW encapsulates the idea of flowing from the restaurant to the bar or vice versa. You can customise your drinks according to the flavours and spirits you prefer; it’s all about just going with the flow. 

Ricky tells us that the cocktail that sells the most is the Espresso Martini. The top is torched for that fresh coffee aroma and flavour, and boy, is it delicious. The top is creamy and sweet, and a surprising beginning to the drink — I wasn’t expecting that. I would highly recommend this drink for coffee lovers.

Above: Flow bar’s espresso martini and strawberry cocktail ($24 each)

The “Strawberry” cocktail is a mix of strawberry gin, lemon verbena and seltzer. This is a refreshing and tart drink that opens the palate, though I would have cut back on the seltzer (I prefer my drinks less fizzy), and infuse more strawberries for a fruitier flavour.

When asked what his favourite drink is, Ricky says that it’s the Sierra Nevada Pale Ale ($15). If you order it with a shot (the way Ricky likes), just add $10. As for food, Ricky loves his cheese; from the menu at FLOW, he recommends the mixed platter ($65) and the Croque Monsieur ($42).

We moved on to JAG (bringing our cocktails along with us), and the meal is described to us as a French Omakase experience with a focus on vegetables and herbs freshly imported from Savoie, France. Customers start by informing the chef of any dietary restrictions and he will cater the menu accordingly. 

Above: presentation of roots used in the degustation menu

A crate of roots and vegetables is presented to us, and in this crate, the chef will include 95% of the vegetables in the dishes for our meal, while the remaining 5% will feature as adornments.

Above: Canapé #1 — the jelly, crunchy base and the root vegetable are a good juxtaposition of textures. It’s tasty and I like it. The green juice tasted very “green” and raw. Reminds us of our juice cleanse days. 

Above: Canapé #2 and #3 are All about parsley. The biscuit (on the right) Is surprisingly filling and sweet, while I wasn’t a fan of the potato (on the left) and its gummy texture — but fortunately it was small.

Above: the sourdough bread is lovely. It tastes like its wood fired but I asked and it’s made in a standard oven. It has a gorgeous crust, and a soft, doughy inside.

Above: The Crème Fraîche consommé is a mini soup in a cup that breaks up the meal before the  heavier dishes arrive. I was confused at first whether to stir the dish and so I asked (yes stir it up). My companion says that it’s a comforting taste, and it’s a good idea to add a dollop of sour cream into soups at home. If like me you’re not a fan of sour cream, you can ask for the consommé on its own. It reminds me of Brand’s Essence of Chicken, but lighter and fresher without the soya sauce taste.

Above: The first appetiser reminds me of sweet Japanese prawns, but paired with slivers of different types of vegetable roots.

Above: The second appetiser includes the restaurant’s highly sought-after and luxurious caviar; it smells heavenly and has bold flavours with an explosion of textures in the mouth. every bite offers a different taste, and while The size of the dish may appear small, it’s really a nice serving; any more and it would be too filling. 

Above: The last cold appetiser comprises multiple interpretations of pumpkin. I suggest eating a little bit of everything on the plate together. It’s all an unusual pairing but it actually works well; the foie gras in the biscuit, pumpkin ice cream, and pumpkin seeds complement each other and blend into one delicious mouthful. This chef deserves his award with this innovative dish.

Above: The hot appetisers begin with a vegetable tea. This has two types of turnips made into a consommé and finished with drops of oil. Prepare yourself for a salty kick with this shot; it wasn’t expected. So expect a concentrate.

Above: This next hot appetiser is bathed in langoustine, which essentially results in this whole dish tasting like lobster bisque (not a bad thing). I wasn’t a fan of the “jelly” thing that turned out to be braised yacon (a tuberous root) with pesto.

Above: here’s the perennial mushroom dish that all fine dining restaurants must have. there are slivers of shaved truffle atop pieces of tempura frog. While i’m not particularly a truffle fan, My companion enjoyed it and says that the frog meat is tender and tasty, and complements the mushroom consommé well. 

Above: Next we have French hamachi with cabbage. The fish has an interesting meaty texture and is tasty on its own without the sauce;  though the sauce does complete the dish adding a lovely hint of seafood bisque to the overall flavour.

Above: For mains, we were served Venison from Australia. The venison juice smells divine, and while the meat is gamey, it’s not overly so. 

Above: Desert came in the form of an apple “foam” and sorbet that’s refreshing and surprisingly addictive. The more you eat, the tastier it gets. plus it’s not filling.

Above: There’s also a stone fruit sorbet and tart that isn’t overly sweet or sour, and is a delightful end to the meal.

Above: after the meal, There’s a full spread of seasonal cheeses to choose from; if you’re not sure what to try, just ask for recommendations.

Above: If it’s still before 10pm, you can also select from the wide range of French spirits that JAG offers.

The whole meal was really filling, and a new experience for me with many of the dishes. There were hits and misses, but I thoroughly enjoyed — and recommend — the wine pairing; the French wines are truly excellent.  

Final thoughts: JAG is a restaurant that’s for lovers of food who are keen to experience new flavours and textures in their dishes; it’s also perfect for impressing a date or for celebrating anniversaries and birthdays. It’s also one of those restaurants that don’t allow children below 10 to dine in, so if you’re looking for some peace and quiet, this is the place to be. 

An Introductory Omakase Experience:
Promenade du Végétal 6 Expressions $175++ per guest 
Wine Pairing – $148++ per guest
JAG La Balade du Végétal “Journey” Degustation Dinner Experience:
$298++ per guest
JAG is located at Level 1, 76 Duxton Road, Singapore 089535. Call 31388477 for reservations, takeaways and delivery. For more information, visit them online at WWW.RESTAURANTJAG.COM.