brilliant french dining – great food in a sophisticated, candle-lit intimate space – in club street, and one of the more impressive meals I’ve had, from start-to-fin. I’ve been to quite a few restaurants this year – perhaps an understatement – and eaten rather well, but a restaurant that shines from appetiser to dessert is difficult to find; this one does that perfectly well – really enjoyable.
plus it’s (thank-heavens-for-) Friday tomorrow! and if you’re looking for a place to start the weekend off proper, this place will do you well good.
it’s rustic french cooking – generous portions, classics done right – comfort food at its very best, which also makes it most welcome amongst all the spanking new tapas-style restaurants we’ve been getting (hungry at) locally. I go to a fair share of those aspiring restaurants, but sometimes I just want a hunk of steak, and a satisfying plate of dessert at reasonable prices, and I got that (and more) here.
we started off with sesame-studded rolls served with an olive tapenade, a warm carby start to the night.
followed by a large bowl of french onion soup – savory and quite delicious, but a little too watery for us. there was the requisite sop of cheese-grilled bread atop, and it would have been perfect if cooked down a little more. we also got a roquefort and bacom salad – a good showing of greens, and the cheese wasn’t too pungent (which is to say that even wimps like me can take a little).
and even if you usually don’t go for salad – I well recommend a plate as a refreshing counterpoint to the richer dishes.
when we ordered the day’s special of mussels in white wine, we were a little sceptical: you often get puny pieces of mussel in the barest heap of shells – but this beautiful copper pot arrived bearing a mountain full of plump young specimens in a fragrant wine broth. completely soppable with bread, and sweet and juicy and tasting of the sea, this was lovely and very enjoyable.
but the pièce de résistance was the rib eye steak. perfectly medium-rare, beautifully pink inside and well-seared, it was one gorgeous (and surprisingly large) slab of meat. I cannot tell you how much I enjoyed this – it was tender, barely fatty but very juicy, and expertly seasoned with salt and pepper. and it’s a compliment to the prowess of the kitchen that even though i normally eschew sauces on steak, I couldn’t stop poking my beef into the dish of mustard sauce – rich but perky, an exemplar of those lovely sauces the french are renowned for.
the beef also came with a big dish of potato gratin – creamy and buttery and yielding, we had to
force depend on the man in our party to do justice to it.
it’s a toss-up between this and the mussels for my favorite dish – but suffice to say that if you’re lucky enough to get both when you visit, you really should.
we finished with a hot chocolate cake – I know fondants are so old-fashioned, but nothing beats them in chocolatey comfort – and a huge whoop-ass serving of creme brulee. the first a bittersweet, oozey execution of lava cake (so incredibly good) and the other a subtly-vanilla egg custard topped with a crisp shatter-able sugar crust. there’s really nothing like a good hunk of good dessert.
I’ve basically exhausted my voacbulary of adjectives – and this place well deserves it. the food is utterly good, the place warm and welcoming, and I left full and hungry and rave-happy. and I haven’t mentioned service yet – but it’s top of its class: they let me come in before opening because I was early, our servers were helpful and attentive but unintrusive, and one of the waiters actually remembered my order from the first time I visited. especially impressive amidst the otherwise lackluster service you get these days.
and I know my photos are incredibly bright (my sister tells me it looks like sunlight), but I promise that it’s some camera magic. the place is dark and dimly lit, with just the right amount of lighting and candlelight for a cosy atmosphere to shimmmy up with your date or gossip with your friends – it’s the very essence of a neighborhood french bistro.
expert cooking, reasonably prices, and huge portions – I’m lax to think of a better place for a great french meal.
85 Club Street
tel +65 6225 6897
$$$: two starters + one large pot of mussels + one kick-ass steak + two desserts = one-eighty shared amongst three
p.s. when I go back – and there will be a next time, I’m getting that chateaubriand – it was huge and pink and incredibly envy-inducing when I saw it served to a couple of our neighbors.