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Posts Tagged ‘French’

Petite Menu deserves a queue longer than the one at Saveur for all these reasons and more:

1. Gorgeously plated food prepared with finesse and techniques as if from a fine dining kitchen… Espuma, emulsion, sous vide, confit, coulis, anyone?

2. Affordable price tags with the most expensive item on the menu being $20++ for a torched ribeye steak! Believe me.

3. Fabulous playlist (remember Joey McIntyre’s Stay the Same??), though I’ve been fairly warned that the songs they play depend on the mood of the staff haha.

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Trio Petitisers
fried baby shrimps, bak kut teh terrine, tempura softshell crab with salted egg sauce

By default, salted egg softshell crab fettuccini is one of the mains on the menu but when Chef Nixon knew that I’m not a fan of pastas, he threw in a pasta-less version as an appetiser. I’m already biased towards anything softshell crab, but when paired with a buttery and aromatic salted egg sauce? Pure unadulterated bliss. I had to forcibly stop myself from drinking the sinful sauce even after the softshell crab was long gone. Yes, it was that good a winning dish!

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Lavender-Scented Pumpkin Soup ($8++)
puffed pumpkin seeds, wakame salad, granny smith apple balls

There was a lot going on in this soup. On its own, the wakame salad was too salty, the pumpkin soup too flowery sweet. Together, the taste was interesting, for want of a better word. I can’t say I’ll order it again, but you may?

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Late Breakfast ($10++)
mesclun salad, sous vide chicken egg, truffle dressing, butter brioche

Two words: butter brioche.
Two more words: must eat.

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Smoked Duck Salad ($11++)
mesclun salad, home-smoked duck breast, balsamic shallots, ume dressing, crème fraiche

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Chicken Confit ($15++)
braised purple cabbage, sweet potato puree, spiced chicken jus

There’s plenty of duck confit around but a chicken version? 12 hour brined chicken leg slow-cooked in its own fat and shallow-fried, I’ve got feedback that this was tender and juicy.

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Pan-Seared Seabass ($15++)
ratatouille, quinoa salad, lemon & kaffir lime confit, lapsang sauchong tea leaf emulsion

Stunning presentation right? It’s a shame that this is the only fish dish on the menu; hopefully Chef Nixon will introduce more main courses for pescetarians soon! I’ll be the first in line.

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Yogurt Parfait ($8++ for full portion)
elderflower yogurt, granola, fresh berries, blackcurrant coulis

This is actually on the all-day breakfast menu but Chef Nixon cleverly served it as a lovely pre-dessert. I’m a yogurt fanatic (I make my own yogurt at home cuz with the amount I’m consuming, the grocery bill was getting more and more expensive) and I approve this!

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Blackforest ($8++)
belgian chocolate mousse, brandied cherries, hazelnut soil, caramel ice cream

No doubt, the piece de resistance of Petite Menu. I don’t even like blackforest to begin with but this deconstructed version was so sooooo good! Everything just clicks. And $8++ for such a fancy dessert?! Sold.

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Kaya Toast Mille Feuille ($7++)
kaya cream, kopitiam toasts, attap seed tartare, fresh blueberries, mint espuma, warm kopi-C sauce

Ok, this was a tad too deconstructed and confusing for my palate. Definitely go for the blackforest!

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Special thanks to Li-lin and Chef Nixon for the kind hospitality!

Petite Menu
Level 1, Aqueen Lavender Hotel
139 Lavender Street
6395 7782

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Sage, The Restaurant

Sure, trying out new restaurants is fun but sometimes, all I want is to go back to tried and tested familiar favourites where there’s no surprise (unpleasant or otherwise), just solid good food.

Sage, The Restaurant is indeed the restaurant when such a mood strikes. If you are as into French cuisine as I am, then Sage needs no introduction. Basically, it’s successfully run by a husband and wife team, where Chef Jusman is in charge of churning out yummy eats while Kimberly manages the front of the house. The menu don’t change very often so I always order the same few items (yawn, boring I know) which never disappoint!

Dinner will likely hurt the wallet so a good alternative is to go for the set lunch, which is available from Wednesday to Friday, with a choice of either 4 courses (from $45++) or 3 courses (from $38++). Portions are the same as ala carte so it’s a good deal!

Crab & Tomato: marinated crab claw salad with avocado bavarois, vine ripe tomato gazpacho and green celery nage.

Sounds like a complex appetiser with so many components with different taste and texture thrown in. But somehow, it works once you mix it all up! Light and healthy. 

Asparagus & Egg: deep fried hen’s egg coated in Parmigiano Reggiano (love the pronounciation!) on poached green asparagus, purple cress and sauce vierge.

Another great appetiser. Cheery runny yolk flow all over the place when the egg is cut into half. This is just amazing. Crispy on the outside and delicate on the inside. Chef Jusman is a genius for making the humble fried egg so delicious!

Mushroom cappuccino: cream of wild mushroom topped with warm milk froth

My must-order at Sage because I can’t find it anywhere else. This is a rich velvety brew that explodes with flavour in the mouth. No doubt the best mushroom soup ever!

Now, don’t forget to order the truffle infused scrambled eggs (that cute looking little egg shell sitting on the bed of salt, hah) on the side (additional $4++). Really, it’s insanely heady! I know I’m nagging, but remember remember REMEMBER to request for it since it’s only served during dinner.

Cod (additional $15++): fillet topped with prawn and cognac butter, roasted mini Spanish red peppers stuffed with salt cod brandade, caramelized lemon confit and saffron cream.

I can always count on Chef Jusman to serve a mean cod as the dinner version I had previously always blew me away. And this is just as delectable, soft fatty flesh contrasting nicely with the slightly crisp skin. Pair it with the salty stuffed red peppers and it’s as perfect as it gets, woohoo~

Fruit Soup: summer fruits and berries in chilled rock melon soup scented with mint essence and blood orange sorbet.

I’m glad I chose such a refreshing dessert because the palate needs to get a breather after being hit by so many flavours. Thumbs up for the reinvigorating combination!

Chocolate Fondant (additional $5++): Manjari chocolate fondant filled with dark chocolate ganache, fresh raspberries with pistachio ice cream.

The only disappointment of the meal. It’s more sweet than bittersweet, crust was very dry and there’s no flow of liquid chocolate. One of the worse fondants in recent memory!

If I have to use one word to sum up Sage, it’s “flavoursome”. Every savoury dish is a sensuous assault on the palate, one after another. Desserts are another matter. Next time I’ll just skip the desserts and get one or two more awesome appetisers instead. Or Laurent Bernard Chocolatier is just 5mins away!

 

Sage, The Restaurant
7 Mohamed Sultan Road
6333 8726

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Au Petit Salut

I love lunching spending quality time with my 3 favourite ladies in the world. And I love striking off a restaurant from my to-go list. So I made myself happy and did both by choosing Au Petit Salut for lunch, yay. Chi-chi location it may be, the set lunch is more than reasonably priced at $30++ with many choices for starter, main and dessert. Ultra value for money with coffee/tea thrown in too!

I felt slightly cheated disappointed that the complimentary baguette is outsourced from Delifrance instead of being freshly baked in-house. That said, it was served warm and crusty so no complaints there. 

Pina colada smoothie didn’t have that thick and creamy milkshake-like texture I was craving for but I like the tropical combination of coconut cream and pineapple juice. Love the French rum La Mauny, especially when flavoured with passionfruit and mango! Current promotion: $9++ for 2 drinks.

Tuna tartare with basil and olive oil, rocket salad and crouton: A very safe and simple appetiser that served its purpose well enough.

Pork rillette served with mesclun salad and walnut dressing: I can’t attest to its saltiness personally but just to give you an idea of how high the sodium level was, we had 4 refills of the bread basket just to counter its saltiness!

Oven baked Norwegian mackerel with melted capsicum and onions, olives and basil: You know I’ll never say “no” to oily fish! Smooth and tender, this had no fishy scent at all. Nothing “wow” but good enough to satisfy.

Crispy filo pastry filled with ragout of braised duck, mushrooms purée and salad: Another salty dish…

Red wine braised beef cheeks, carrots, mushrooms and parsley potatoes: Portion was very generous! The poor cow must have been quite a whopping fellow to have such big cheeks. Anyway, the sauce was quite bland and wasn’t as flavourful as I thought a good stew should be.

Crème brulée infused with fresh Madagascar vanilla beans: This won the most votes for the best dessert out of the 4 we tried. Spotted lots of vanilla specks which got me excited! Smooth texture and not too eggy custard with a nicely burnt sugar top.

Profiteroles filled with vanilla ice cream in warm chocolate sauce: Crisp choux buns and crunchy sliced almonds are always pleasing.

2 buns gone in a flash.

Passionfruit “Blanc-Manger”: a.k.a. French version of panna cotta. This got a bit too milky after awhile so the tangy passionfruit came in really handy.

Cake “Financier” served with mixed berry compote and vanilla whipped cream: Though moist and soft, this was yawn-inducing compared to the others.

Overall, a pleasant lunch with good service and lush surroundings. Food was not fantastic as nothing particularly outstanding stood out. I’d probably describe the lunch experience as “nice” but sometimes, “nice” can just be so boring.

 

 

Au Petit Salut
40C Harding Road
Tanglin Village (Dempsey Road)
6475 1976

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Afternoon tea in London, waffles and chocolates in Brussels, herring sandwiches in Amsterdam, Sachertorte in Austria, rosti in Switzerland, pasta and gelato in Florence… Planning for the upcoming trip to Europe got me fantasizing dreaming of the land of epicurean promise. I’m particularly excited about Paris, think Pierre Hermé’s pastries, Berthillon ice creams, Ladurée macarons… I want to be there now! But since Paris is still 3+ months away, I made do and headed to Hediard Cafe at Tudor Court, a name synonymous with luxury in France. Dressed in dramatic black and red, the cafe retains a casual and cozy vibe with single, arched windows for people-watching.

Eggs Norwegian ($19++): Poached egg on toast with Norwegian smoked salmon and hollandaise sauce. Just my kind of breakfast. The smoked salmon was really delicious, not too salty with just the right level of sodium. I can’t say the same for the poached egg though, which was overcooked and too solid.

Eggs “Benedicte” ($16++) underwent a makeover since the best friend wanted scrambled instead of the default poached egg. This is a first for the chef since according to the waiter, “it’s never been done before. But possible.” Great flexibility there. This is very similar to the Eggs Norwegian, except that it’s served with Parma ham on toast instead of smoked salmon. The scrambled egg was good, with a velvety and creamy consistency.

I think cheese lovers will like love the Croq’ Ferdinand ($16++), a tartine of grilled bread with Parma ham, and topped with lots and lots of gruyere cheese and mornay sauce. Extremely cheesy is an understatement. Even I, the self-proclaimed non-cheese lover, like this enough to steal a second bite!

The food is not mind-blowingly good but still very enjoyable since it’s really hard not to love dining in such a charming and lovely setting. And it’s luxury with an affordable price tag! Portions are on the small side though, the reason why French women don’t get fat?

I wanna go Paris even more now.

 

Hediard Cafe-Boutique
125 Tanglin Road
6333 6683

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The Black Sheep Cafe

It’s no secret that I love French nosh, but having it on a regular basis hurts the wallet. That’s why I really appreciate underrated gems like The Black Sheep Cafe, a no-frills French restaurant that defies the general expectations of French cuisine, i.e. small fanciful portions at exorbitant prices. Here, owner-chef Ratha whips up well-executed food at reasonable prices with no GST/service charge! From our candid conversation, it’s obvious that he’s knowledgeable and knows what he’s doing in the kitchen. Which may be why the menu is very limited (3 starters, 3 mains, 2 desserts), since he sticks to doing what he does best.

Fish of the day was a beautiful Chilean Seabass ($21). Simply paired with a creamy sauce of white wine, lemon and thyme, the cod-like fish was so fresh and cooked to perfection. Love this!

Chef Ratha does a mean crisp roasted Duck Confit ($21) with tangy mango relish. Whoa, this arrived smelling so good that I was almost tempted to have a bite! Restraining myself in time, I helped myself to the tasty apple rosti instead.

Desserts didn’t score as high as the mains. The Orange Martini Souffle ($10) was too foamy and lacked that meltingly soft texture I’m looking for. Lots of embedded orange zest but flavour of orange martini was a tad weak.

The Flourless Chocolate Tart ($8) is not actually a tart, but a cake which is surprisingly not heavy and dense like most of them are. The richness is just right and I love how light and moist this is!

Go on a lazy weekday afternoon like we did. Not only did we have the entire place to ourselves, we had the undivided attention of Chef Ratha, who took the time to chat and share interesting tidbits of knowledge with us. Food for thought: Is dory fish so dirt-cheap because it’s, well, dirty?

 

The Black Sheep Cafe
35 Mayo Street
6292 5772

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Bistro Du Vin #2

After that lacklustre lunch, I returned to Bistro Du Vin with an major adjustment of expectations. Turned out it was for naught! The lowering of expectations, I mean. Because with Chef Marie in town and helming the kitchen for a couple of weeks, lunch was just marvelous with not merely delicious food but also great service!

Brouillade aux Truffes Fraiches ($40++) is the best ever! Black winter truffles are always best paired with a simple backdrop so that the intense flavour can be showcased to its fullest advantage. The classic homey scrambled egg is transformed into such a complex and luxurious dish with generous shavings of that to-die-for black gold. Not overtly creamy too, which is another plus!

Delicious is an understatement!

I didn’t care much for the gratinated Onion Soup ($14++) which was a tad salty after a few spoonfuls. More caramelized onions would be nice too. This was a very filling starter with the gruyere cheese and bread so sharing may be a good idea. In terms of presentation and taste, I prefer L’entrepot Bistro’s version.

More Spanish than French, the Red Mullet Escabeche ($18++) is an interesting dish as it’s not commonly found in restaurants. After frying, the fish is then marinated overnight with citrus juice and onions before serving it cold to the table. I liked this for the novelty factor, not so much for the taste as it was slightly acidic.

The sauce of Homard à l’armoricaine ($65++) reminds me of our local chili crabs, sans the spiciness. Sauteed then poached in a mixture of tomato, garlic and white wine, the huge lobster was so fresh and succulent!

There’s always room for more desserts! I wasn’t prepared for the swift jolt to the system at the first taste of the “Frou Normand” ($18++). No wonder, as the Calvados (French apple brandy) has an alcohol content of 40% (I asked)! The palate cleansing green apple sorbet was very refreshing but can be even better if it’s less icy and has a smoother texture.

Chocolate fondants are everywhere now, isn’t it? Hard to be impressed by any specific ones since they taste more or less similar to me and it’s rather hard to go wrong with chocolate. The bistro’s Hot Chocolate Fondant ($12++) with homemade vanilla ice-cream was nice. Just nice.

I particularly like the thin, not too “cakey” crust and the lavish flow of liquid molten chocolate! And the vanilla ice-cream with its gorgeous specks of beans was good too.

The Apple Tart ($12++) is the thinnest one I’ve seen so far! This was very good with the tangy apple slices on crisp pastry (though the icing sugar was a little over the top). Remember to pre-order 20mins in advance so you don’t have a long wait. Mine turned out to be not as warm as I like, perhaps because I ordered it too late and they rushed it out before the full 20mins.

Note that other than the onion soup and desserts, the rest of the dishes are not on the regular ala carte menu. 

My special thanks to Randy (Group Operations Director of Les Amis Group) for the kind invite, and Catherine for the wonderful and attentive service!

 

Bistro Du Vin
#02-12 Shaw Centre
6733 7763

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Au Jardin

Am I the only one unimpressed by Au Jardin or what?

1. Imagine my disappointment when the menu presented was totally different from the online menu (which is far more interesting), sigh.

2. Point 1 wouldn’t matter if the food itself was good. Since it’s under the Les Amis group, I expected the food to be above average but found it wanting instead.  Blame me and my high expectations.

3. If there’s one thing I hate dislike more than subpar food, it’s being rushed through a meal. I think the waiters were rushing the dishes as it was getting close to their closing time, double sigh.

I’m disillusioned.

Friday Luncheon ($45++) kicked off with a amuse bouche of bonito jelly emulsion, scallops and fish roe topped with seaweed. I thought this was a rather awkward combination as the natural sweetness of the scallops was overwhelmed by the salty essence.

I applaud the chef for his presentation of the crispy fried egg with filo crust topped with avruga caviar. Lovely in the looks department! Now, if only it scored in the taste department as well.

I got all excited at the sight of that runny yolk! So I wasn’t prepared for the anticlimax that followed. Bland, bland, bland. It’s just another ordinary egg to me, albeit a fanciful one.

Finally, something I can say I truly like! Compared to the previous 2 dishes, ragout of Boston lobster with orange-vanilla foam was outstanding. I adored the succulent lobster and that hint of citrusy aftertaste. Brilliant.

My pan roasted baby threadfin with stewed split peas flavoured with dried seafood was so humdrum that I’m going to label it as “boring”. Definitely Probably something I can replicate at home. Speaking of which, I actually do have a bag of split peas in my pantry. Guess it’s time to start experimenting soon!

The consensus at the table: Papillote of Japanese pumpkin with vanilla ice cream was the nicest part of the whole meal! I’m partial to anything pumpkin so I did enjoy the pairing of the sweet sweet pumpkin with crispy paper-thin wafer.

Luncheon ended with a cup of tea and les mignardises.

I’m confused now. On one hand, the food didn’t impress enough to make me eager to be back. On the other hand, I think Au Jardin really has the potential to wow and blow me away. Reckon it’s just not my lucky day today?

I’m ambivalent about Au Jardin.

 

Au Jardin
1 Cluny Road
Singapore Botanic Gardens
6466 8812

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