Chef Ratha and his Black Sheep cafe is one of the favourite places I seek out when I need a comforting, nice French meal, without having to fuss with what one usually fusses about when one goes to eat at a French restaurant.
Fuss free, just stroll in...though a reservation is recommended for dinners on Fri, Sat and eves of holidays. The menu is straightforward, simple dishes, all cooked very well. The wine list does not require one to have a degree in oenology to decipher. Again, short, to the point, all wines are well chosen and work well. No pomp. No ceremony.
I often feel the chef is reflected in his food...and Ratha is certainly like the food he cooks. This lunch I had the baked brie as a starter
Premium brie, encrusted in a pistacio crust, and baked. Accompanied by a citrus fruit salad. Nice way to start. The crust was crispy, and very nicely browned, and the brie within, though not exactly oozing out as one cuts into the cheese, is just starting to melt.
Kin had the escargot in garlic sauce
Huge escargots, sans shell, in a lot of garlic, butter...hugely unhealthy, I guess from the copious amounts of butter...but oh, so delicious. The escargots were plump, juicy. Marvellous.
For mains, Kin had the time and tested confit canard
This is one of the favourites at Black sheep. The confit is made in-house, seared till lightly crisp on the outside on order. Sitting on a apple rosti, and accompanied by a mango relish. The skin was not as crisp as the ones in France, in particular our reference confit from Chez Dumonet. But Ratha's version is very good. Very good indeed, and perhaps the best in Singapore. The skin was delicious, and under just a small sliver of fat to give oomph, and tender, moist meat within. Perhaps a tad salty...only the slightest tad so, but the salt boosts flavour. The combination of the apple rosti helps cut the grease, and the salad was fresh and nice.
I had what the menu calls Cheeky Pork
The pork cheeks were probably braised, and then fried till crisp. And served on a bed of greens and pear and an orange glaze. The skin was very crispy, flavourful. The meat within was very tender, but I found the sinews to be very apparent, and it felt a bit like pulled pork having to cut with the grain of the muscles to make bite sized morsels. Tastewise it was excellent. A slight porky flavour, but all in the proper order and proportion.
For desserts, we had the double chocholate boudini
Double chocolate refers to the chocolate bed which the strawberries, banana and the pistachio ice cream rests on. Within the outer cake like chocolate shell, is a molten chocolate interior. Superbly gorgeous chocolate, especially for the chocoholic.
And Chef Ratha's famous soufle
Wonderful. The Kalua soufle rises to the occasion, and within the slightly elastic skin, is a superbly light, airy interior, and was wonderful with the chocolate ice cream.
Superb meal, excellent cooking, with little fuss, and very affordable as well. Highly recommended.
p.s. This is an invited review. And in the interest of full disclosure, I have know Chef Ratha for many years. And I have always enjoyed his cooking.
The Black Sheep Cafe
11 Sin Ming Rd, Thomson V, B1-30, Singapore 575629
6459 5373 (11.30a.m-10.30p.m) or 92721842