Showing posts with label French cuisine. Show all posts
Showing posts with label French cuisine. Show all posts

Friday, October 23, 2015

Bistrot du Sommelier: revisit review

I reviewed the Bistrot du Sommelier in 2012, click here for that review. I was impressed with the quality of the food then, and was rather keen when I received an invitation to try out their new Fall menu. 

From the 2012 review, they have a new chef de cuisine, in the form of the young Brandon Foo. 

We started with the famous Duck Rillette, 100gm ($10.80++)

As with my experience earlier, this is a winner. Rilette is a typical French style dish, like pâté, the meat is cubed or chopped, salted and cooked slowly in fat until it is tender enough to be easily shredded, and then cooled with enough of the fat to form a paste. They are normally used as spread on bread or toast and served at room temperature. And the one at Bistrot du Sommelier is fantastic. Spread on a nice crusty bread, it is delicious enough to be a complete meal.

The bread, was of course up to par. Crusty, but deliciously soft within. Very good with the rilette and with the next dish: the  Rabbit, Pork, Duck Foiegras Ballotine, 150gm ($18++)

Traditionally a ballotine is like a sausage, and usually with poultry. But these days all kinds of meat can be used. And in this dish, Chef Brandon used rabbit, pork and foie gras. The ballotine is rather firm, and was served with some greens and cold. It went well with the bread. Kin thought it to start to grow on her as she ate, while I preferred the rilette. 

We had double salads...First a warm salad: Chataigne, Bettrave et Sabayon aux Cèpes ($19++). Chestnut mousseline, steamed beetroot and cèpes mushroom sabayon 

Not quite what I was expecting. The sabayon dressing was warm and wonderful. The other components of the dish was excellent as well. Great way to serve up vegetables. And they used both red and white beetroot, which is rather unusual, I guess. The beetroots were cooked beautifully, enough to be tender, but not mushy. 

The second was actually a seafood salad: Panaché de Fruits de Mer ($19++). Prawn’s ‘Babajuan’, confit trout, sautéed squid and Pourpier salad 

The trout and squid were marvellous. The prawn was hidden in a crusty pastry, and I couldn't really taste the prawn. The salad was excellent, as was the dressing. Chef Brandon really knows his way around the flavours as they remained distinct but at the same time melded well with each other.

Then on to the mains. We started with the fabulous Roast Chicken: Poulet rôti, Cuisses en Vol-au-vent de Foie gras, jus Volaille aux Epices (Serves 2, $68++)  Oven roasted French chicken, legs and foie gras in puff pastry, spiced chicken jus

Beautifully roasted. Half a chicken, we were told French origin, but was not sure if its the famous poulet du Bresse. It was magnificent.  Below the chicken leg, and within the Vol-au-vent of puff pastry is a serving of rich, sinful, gorgeous duck foie gras. The dish was served with a side of whipped potato, which I felt was a bit too creamy, but Kin enjoyed. The whipped potato was very finely done, with no lumps, or bits of potato. 

A closeup of the meats...the breast meatwas moist, tender and flavourful. The leg had a heavier flavour, but still very tasty. And the skin was springy, yet had a crispness that tasted absolutely sublime. 

And we also had the pork chops: Côtelette de Porc Canadienne rôtie, Pomme Vigneronne ($38++). Oven roasted Canadian pork chop served with potato Vigneronne 

Very Provence style. Basic, earthy. And most wonderfully delicious. The pork was cooked to perfection. And perfection is not used carelessly. The cooking was superb.

The pork was wonderfully pink and moist within. And a crust had begun to form on the outside. The chef must have seared the pork chop to create the beautiful, Maillard-ed crust, then finished it off in the oven at just the right temperature for just the right amount of time. Even as I write, I can almost smell the wonderful aroma of the pork. The accompanying potato gratin was also excellent. My favourite dish for the evening.

And then we waited a while for the dessert. Soufflé à la Noisette, for 2 ($25++). Hazelnut soufflé and dark chocolate ice-cream

When it arrived, it looked like a soufflé should. The eggs had risen to a magnificent overflow to the bowl, with a membrane like topping sprinkled with castor sugar. As the waiter placed it on our table, it a proper soufflé should. My standards of reference are rather high...Chez Dumonet in Paris. OK, this is not near the levels of Dumonet. But was very close. I found it slightly too sweet...yes, I know desserts should be sweet, but this for me was a tad over. But I was bowled over with the crispy whole hazelnuts within. And the beautiful chocolate ice cream served at the side. So, overall, for me, this was a winner.

We also had some French wine to go along with dinner. The house Bourgogne Rouge: Bachelet Monno 2012 ($88++ per bottle) was rather nice. Chosen by the sommelier as a house wine, it had plenty of pulpy, citrus fruit over a base which is bright,  chalky minerality, and then refreshingly pithy, zesty notes on the finish. 

The Bistrot also offers a TGV Menu for, quick like the French high speed rail for busy folks. Three course prix fixe menu for only S$35++. 

We enjoyed this visit to the Bistrot du Sommelier as I did the last time I was there, and made a mental note that 3 years is too long for a revisit, and will return soon. The cuisine is hearty, the cooking excellent, and the ambience was very nice. 

Le Bistrot du Sommelier
53 Armenian St, Singapore 179940

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Black Sheep Cafe: Value meals in Thomson

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
Closed Mondays

Monday, November 26, 2012

Au Petit Salut: another look...

Au Petit Salut is one of the kingpins of the local French culinary scene for a long time. I have reviewed this once before, and have eaten there many, many times...mostly very happy with the food and service. I recently went back for an event, and sampled their fare.

Nice place...sitting in a colonial bungalow, by the Dempsey area. Very nice, plentiful parking slots. Within, a charming ambience.

The evening was hosted by The Hour Glass and DeBethune, who makes some of the most interesting watches in the market. With a banquet of perhaps 30 pax, I was impressed with the swiftness of the service, and the quality of the cooking...but I am letting the cat out of the bag.

First the amuse...

Norweigian King crab, served cold with avocado puree, radishes and tomato espuma. Delectable. The crab was delicate, sweet flavoured. Nice.

A second starter of winter vegetable volute was then served

Tasted like a kind of pumpkin soup, rich creamy. The light taste of the pumpkin shone through the soup.

The main course was a 400 day grain fed Wagyu ribeye, sauteed mushrooms and pommes mouseline

I found my cut of the ribeye had a sinew running through it...and kind of spoils the experience for me. But otherwise, the meat was quite nice. Smooth, rich, almost creamy wagyu, cooked medium rare and seared outside. The mushrooms were very nice, as was the whipped potato.

For desserts, I had creme brule

Chocholate flavoured. This made the grade, but was nothing special. The chocholate a bit thick and heavy.

Other than the cut of beef which a bit off side for me...I did check with my friend who sat opposite me who also had the beef, and he declared his cut perfect, I think Au Petit manage to retain a position amongst the top French restaurants in Singapore.

40C Harding Road
6475 1976

Monday, October 1, 2012

Le Bistrot du Sommelier

They say the French are the master chefs of the world. While I do not fully agree, as I subsribe to the multi master cuisines of the world...amongst them the French and Italians, but also Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Indian. But I do agree, the French know their food (and wine!), and it is often a delight to eat at an established French kitchen.

The Bistro du Sommelier has moved several times over its life. And I have always managed not to eat there until today, when some Australian friends who were visiting wanted French.

Quaint place, methinks. Upstairs a nice bar, which also doubles as a canteen like eating place. And downstairs, a nice restaurant. Located just a few doors from the Substation at Armenian Street, this little bistro has made its name amongst the local culinary scene for a while.

Only beef is available as mains during lunch, which served us fine...3 rather big lads can devour quite a bit of meat. So we decided on the 1.2kg steak to be shared amongst us. But first the starters...

The special for the day was baked figs topped with blue cheese

I always fancied figs as something eaten with cheese, but usually dried. This was fresh figs, baked with melted blue cheese on top. Very nice. The figs were a bit tart, ever so slightly acidic and sour on a base tast of sweet. The cheese was, of course, pungent, fragrant and creamy. I must say I rather liked it more than I thought I would have reading the menu.

We also had some absolutely gorgeous duck rilette.

This one is realy good. I mean really, seriously good. Spread on a nice crusty piece of bread that only the French can manage (is there a pun in the French word for bread = pain?)...marvellous. If it were up to me, I would order one serving per person.

And the piece de resistance...arrived after 45 minutes for medium rare...we were puzzled...the waitress, sweet and knowledgable as she was, could not answer us why it would take that long...other than to offer that the meat needed time to rest...

Anyway...looks gorgeous, smelled wonderful

The meat was tender, full flavoured. The sauteed onions provided a sweetness that I would have preferred not, but it was fine. Back to the meat...very very good. Beefy flavours, tender...I already said that, but this was really almost fork tender...very nice on the palate. Beautiful.

But the meat was fat...don't get me wrong, fat gives flavour. But I think perhaps this cut was a bit too much fat....we trimmed it away and figured perhaps 200g of fat...take away another 150g of bone, and we had just about 900g of meat to be shared. Quite enough for the 3 of us. I would have been delighted if the waitress whisked away the fat and toasted it into a crisp lard....but she didn't offer, and we didn't ask...and all the better for our cholesterol levels.

I sound like I didn't really enjoy the beef, but believe me, I really did. Very good steak.

But the dessert blew me away...

prunes, preserved in liqueur, served with a good scoop of vanilla ice cream and more liqueur poured over for good measure. The liqueur was wonderful...beautiful aroma, nice sweetness, but well tempered.

The prunes were pitted, but these were easy to remove as the flesh was so soft, and wonderfully soaked with the liqueur, it was a pleasure to swirl around with the tongue, and spit out the pit. Excellent dessert.

I didn't taste, but one of the trio ordered a profiterole...looked authentic...huge.

Truly a nice, relaxed atmosphere, almost like a French bistro in perhaps one of the quieter Arrondisment in Paris. Almost all the staff were French, and were many of the clients...lending more credibility to the atmosphere. Lovely place. Definitely worth visiting again.

Le Bistrot du Sommelier
53 Armenian St

Mon to Sat 12-3pm, and 6-11pm

Thursday, July 19, 2012

French bistro style: La Kitchenette

New places are sometimes interesting...the excitement of trying out a new place, with its promise of satisfying cuisine. One of my makan buddies noticed this new place sprouting out in Goldhill Square and thought it might be fun to try it out. So off we went, to the French inspired restaurant.

With the space for only 4 tables next to what seemed like a bakery, Kitchenette seems to be quite interesting. Freshly baked bread smells heavenly. We were ushered upstairs, to a rather spacious dining area, seating perhaps 40 easily.

The waitress told us the interesting space next door...combining a bar, an Italian styled cafe, a Thai restaurant is also owned by the same people. But at Kitchenette, the menu is French inspired. We began immediately...with a duck pate, a plate of French sausage and some Ceasar Salad.

The breads were, of course heavenly...very nicely made. And with the duck pate which was also expertly made, made a very nice starter.

The sausage was a bit less interesting...this was a huge sausage, sliced and plated with picked cucumbers and pearl onions. I found this to be quite ordinary, and can be easily surpassed by the offerings in many other delicatessens in the city.

The Ceasar's Salad with chicken was rather good, though. The vegetables were fresh, crunchy. The chicken nicely done...skinless breast meat, lightly steamed and then grilled. Nice shreds of cheese and a tasty, but light dressing.

On to the mains...I did not taste all the mains, but to give an idea of the variety, I show the photographs of the other mains eaten by my friends. First the steak

Looks nice. Ordered well done, and served to be what seemed to me to be well done.

The oxtail stew came in a small cup

Smelled good, the meat looked like it fell off the bone.

I had the braised lamb shank...a huge serving

The lamb was ultra tender...the meat fell from the bone at the slightest prod with the fork. Taste-wise it was mild. The braising liquid was not heavily spiced, and perhaps a touch of salt might highlight the taste a bit...though truth be told, I rather prefer it to be a touch light, so the quality of the meat can be savoured. And savoured it was...the meat was excellent. The serving a bit large.

Then came desserts, by which time, I was full, having eaten the leg of lamb...but we shared a chocholate tart and a tiramisu

The pastry was a bit hard, but the chocolate was rich, smothering within. Went well with the small scoop of vanilla ice cream.

The tiramisu was rather delicious...home made style, served in a glass. Rich, well rounded taste, and a fitting end to a nice meal.

The wait staff were very friendly and nice, and best of all, the prices are rather affordable, with mains hovering around $20.

1 Goldhill Plaza #01-11
9am-9pm daily

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Fine French cuisine in Singapore: Les Amis

Les Amis at Shaw...a veritable name in French cuisine in Singapore. I have been eating here since its inception when Justin Quek and Ignatius Chan were at the helm. Excellent excellent restaurant then. It want through a phase where the cuisine was a bit shakey, especially in the face of competition rising in the early 2000s. But recently, several tastings at the restaurant has restored my faith and love for their cuisine.

The evening's wine

When Parmigiani Fleurier asked Watchonista to organize a dinner event for collectors in Singapore to re-introduce the brand and celebrate their new partnership with The Hour Glass, Watchonista asked me to help and we decided to hold it at Les Amis.

Total of 24 guests. Private room upstairs. Dedicated wait staff. Dealing with Eileen Eng, the Guest Relations Manager was a, responsive, and informative.
My photographs, purchased by Parmigiani Fleurier on the walls.

The wines proposed had some favourites like the Domaine Dujac Morey St-Denis, the Chablis Premier Cru from Daniel Dampt & Fils and the well loved Oremus Tokaji Aszu. But the Bruno Paillard NV Champagne proposed was unknown to me. I went with the sommalier suggestion for the champagne and it turned out brilliant.

But I am getting ahead of myself...the amuse bouche

Not sure what it was...the waiter did not explain when he served...I spoke to the head waiter later and asked for the dishes to be announced...which they duly complied.

The white was a Premier Cru chablis...very elegant on the nose, and elegant on the palate, dry, but a fine finish.

The first course asparagus

While not the Konig Asparagus I had in Germany, these were German, and quite large samples. Nicely cooked, marinated...and with a serving of uni, chips and Gribiche sauce. The uni was a tad little, and I hardly tasted the delicacy....wished it was larger. But the asparagus was fine.

Next an excellent pasta dish

Homemade pasta with Japanese shrimps and black truffle infused stock. The truffle was light and delicate, only a hint to perfume the sauce, but not overpowering. The Japanese shrimps were a delight...with the shells on, they were crisp and crunchy, and had a beautiful flavour. Very good with the pasta.

For my mains, I had the char grilled black Angus beef tenderloin with mushrooms, broccolini and pommes rissolees

A nice size piece of beef. Often in the high end French restaurants, the serving sizes follow the haute cuisine portions...very small. But this serving of beef was substantial. Beautifully cooked...medium rare as I requested, though the outside was not exactly charred. But really nice piece of beef. Went extremely well with the red selected. The red was the star of the evening.

Some of the guests preferrred fish, which looked beautiful, with some broth...I did not sample any.

And for desserts, a chocolate delice with rhubarb and elderflower ice cream

Superb. The delice was a rich dark chocolate with shards of crisp chocholate embedded for a more interesting texture. The ice cream was soft, rich, creamy, and was melting away as most of the guests were busy admiring the watches which was brought out on trays.

And the magnificent Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos by Oremus. Dark, a bit moody, but rich, sweet and delightful.

Truly an excellent meal. I was a little sad to know that two days after our dinner, the chef de cuisine Armin Leigteb was leaving to return to his native Austria...and I hope the Group's Executive Chef Galvin Lim who will take the helm from June will retain the excellent cuisine which is now synonymous with the Les Amis name. Gives me an excuse to return to sample Galvin's cuisine later.

Les Amis
1 Scotts Road, #02-16 Shaw Centre
6733 2225