Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Great Expectations

I think the main problem with g.e., the widely spurned molecular kitchen in The Luxe Manor helmed by former Kee Club chef and Ell Bulli/Fat Duck-trained Bonelli Gianluigi, is that its initials inadvertently spell out the words "great expectations." And that's exactly what it wishes to give, what with its name-brand pedigree, its bizarre decor (granted, that's a hand-me-down from the hotel) and its blobbier-than-thou approach to multi-ingredient cooking.

When we booked g.e. as part of Springalicious, I was warned over and over that the food was going to bad. Really bad. And so I went in thinking the worst. And with my standards having plunged into the sewers, I was very pleasantly surprised by what I ate at g.e. -- sure, there were way too many ingredients per dish. There were pretensions I shouldn't even speak of, like a more-than-moist towelette executed sea-monkey style with a sauce dish and a pitcher of water. Plus a ridiculous press notice, pictured above, that lead my colleague Daniel to pop a couple of colourful pellets only to spit them out into a trash can (he didn't bother with the bloody soil combination, despite the instructions). The fact that you dine in rooms themed heaven, hell and (our chosen den for the evening) Eden is almost coolly camp, except the decor is so tackily executed you want to cry into a pile of Elle Decors.

BUT. ALL THAT SAID. The food was not BAD. There was no dish that made me scream with ecstasy, but equally no dish that I would deem inedible. Would I pay $500 to do a tasting menu again? Maybe. Would I pay the full $900+ for their regular shebang? Probably not. But I know there is an audience for the wacky stylings of molecular chefs who think they're too good for you. The only problem is, that audience is NOT in TST. That's why Chef Roland left the Manor for the Drawing Room, and it's probably why Chef Bonelli won't last long here either. I just hope he learns to tone it down before he starts his next gig. Less, my dear, is more.

Food photos below, and the menu we had is here.

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