Mirazur pop-up restaurant at the Mandala Club

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Straight from Menton, France, three-star restaurant Mirazur has arrived for a three-month residency here at the Mandala Club. Annabel Tan tastes and discovers what it takes to bring the world’s number one restaurant to Singapore.

Run by Argentinian chef Mauro Colagreco, Mirazur is housed in an unusual 1930s modernist building in Menton, France, with stunning views of the French Riviera. In 2019, the restaurant was awarded three Michelin stars and also landed the number one spot on the World’s 50 Best Restaurants list. Since traveling to France for a taste is not on the cards during this pandemic, Mirazur brought us its culinary genius, offering Singapore a gastronomic and experiential journey like no other.

Interior of the Mirazur in Menton (Image: Matteo Carassale)

The exclusive three-month residency running from now until September 4 was introduced by The Mandala Group and takes place at Mandala Club, formerly known as Straits Clan. Only about five months ago, Colagreco got the call from CEO and co-founder of The Mandala Group, Ben Jones, who pitched the idea. For the Mirazur team, this was the perfect opportunity as the restaurant in Menton was closed at the time due to restrictions in France. On top of that, Colagreco also opened the Carne burger restaurant here earlier this year and loves Singapore, especially for its cultural richness and product diversity.

“Of course there were challenges, but I chose to live in hope, not fear,” Colagreco remarks on the difficulties of pulling off such a pop-up in a pandemic. “I want to focus on the positives, celebrate fine dining and bring an exceptional experience to Singapore.”

After just two days of service here in May, Phase 2 (enhanced alert) restrictions came into effect, ceasing dining at F&B establishments for five weeks. While this put a damper on the work, it was also an opportunity for the team to fine-tune operations, explore Singapore and source more local and regional ingredients.

Mirazur’s head chef, Luca Mattioli, who trained with Colagreco for six years and looks after the restaurant’s R&D and external projects, runs the residence here and shares the good things about it. By visiting local farms and small producers, he was able to source new ingredients and replace imported ingredients such as crab from France with an alternative from a sustainable local farm called Crab Lovers Farm. Mattioli also tasted stingless bee honey from a local producer for the first time and calls it the best honey he has ever had. “Whenever possible, we use local ingredients,” he says. “These five weeks actually gave us some time to rethink and refine the contours.”

For Colagreco, who was here for two weeks to set up the residency before returning to France for the reopening of Mirazur, the pandemic has also highlighted the urgency to act, live and work with full respect for nature – a philosophy that guides the cuisine of Le Mirazur. The menus are planned according to the lunar cycle, which is believed to influence different elements of nature at different phases.

Mauro Colagreco (Photo: Matteo Carassale)

With this in mind, the residence offers four menus that evolve over three weeks: Leaves, Flowers, Roots and Fruits. Not only does this showcase the best ingredients, but it also allows for surprises at every meal. “We like the freedom of this philosophy; this allows us to create from local products that we find every day around the Mirazur: in our garden, in the Mediterranean and in the mountains around Menton”, he specifies.

Before dining restrictions set in, we had the pleasure of having the Leaves menu at lunch, preceded by lush arrangements of local eucalyptus and acacia foliage creating a garden atmosphere in the dining room . These botanical facilities are designed by award-winning local botanical design studio This Humid House and evolve with changing menus.

Each course was impeccably presented, featuring leaves in various shapes and flavors. Some were more visually apparent, such as the roasted salad made with lettuce hearts from the local Kok Fah Tech Farm, topped with raw and pickled turnip bulbs and lilies from Tekka Market on a decadent vermouth sauce. Others, like the fresh Hokkaido scallops topped with uni, were less so. No leaves were present on the plate, but the large seven-year-old scallop had been poached in hay butter and rested on small cubes of chayote, a type of squash, accompanied by a rich Hollandaise with hay.

Jones shares that the response to the residency has been encouraging despite the changes in restrictions, and the experience has been beneficial for the Mandala Group team. “We definitely fell in love with the whole concept and how it works,” Jones says. “Apart from bringing something exciting to Singapore when everyone is stuck here, it has also been a very interesting learning process. We have had the chance to learn from the best.

Although there are no views of the French Riviera at this Mirazur residence, there are new insights into the natural world that diners can take away from the educational and experiential meal. “We need to reconnect with nature and life cycles,” says Colagreco. “With our Mirazur pop-up in Singapore, the objective is to decode nature through our senses, to get to know it better to allow us to enter into its intimacy, to arouse respect and admiration and then the desire to take it. care and preserve it, thus bringing an understanding of nature to an urban society.

(All images: The Mandala Group)

This story first appeared in the August 2021 issue of Prestige Singapore.

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