this place is an institution for french food in singapore – and to my mind, rightly so. it’s been around for years but I’ve only got to it recently, and I like the food and the vibe. it feels like your round-the-corner french bistro (if you’re lucky enough to have one), with decor that recalls that balanced kitschy-but-cool decor I associate with paris.
there are two classes of french food – the poncy, and the rustic. my tastes run to the latter, which is what they do here, served up hearty and without fuss.
I definitely like the french mode of eating bread, served crusty outside, soft inside, and with a side of unsalted butter (as opposed to the italian oil-and-vinegar concoction). I think the bread itself could be tastier, but it did go well with the french onion soup, which was a decent savory-but-not-salty rendition.
there are some people that prefer their onion soup to be almost stew-like, thick enough for the spoon to stand a little before faltering – and while the version here is a little looser than that, with enough liquid for it to retain its title of soup, it’s satisfyingly thick with well-caramelized onion.
we went with two mains – a seared white fish fillet served over ratatouille, and of course, a coq du vin.
flaky, tender, properly cooked fish with a crusty sear and well-seasoned, the ratatouille at the bottom provided a softer, piquant contrast. very nice.
but of course – the coq au vin is more indicative of skill (though in a different way), lots of which were executed here. be careful when you lift the chicken out the beautiful crockpot (well-appreciated, well-used crockery are a delight), as it’s literally falling off the bone. the kitchen knows what it’s doing – you sometimes expect these stewed dishes to rely very heavily on salt to bring out savoriness, but there’s none of that here.
rustic french food does tend to be on the heavy side, so you can opt for a side of (french) beans (haha) to perk flavours up a bit – even if they are quite a bit oilier than i wanted – or you can do as my partner did, and match the heaviness with a dish of truffled fries.
whichever you choose – I’ve found the food here both consistently hearty, well-portioned (even large, for some of you), and well-priced for what is a semi-casual meal with well-cooked food. and unlike many european restaurants, it’s located conveniently right in the heart of town. mark this one as a must-visit.
Bistro du Vin
#01-14 Shaw Centre
1 Scotts Road
tel +65 6733 7763
$$.5: 35ish onward