Moose Gathering : A Little Bit of Europe in Little India

"A Little Bit of Europe in Little India"

Yesterday we had our second TheMoose Gathering.
DATE: 17th April 2010. Consolidated by Xin Li
After some reconnaissance work for the past few weeks, theMOOSE decided to hold its gathering on the unique Black Sheep Café helmed by Chef Rathakrishnan.

Firstly, we couldn’t afford the luxury of Jaan, Gunther or Absinthe etc.

Secondly, it is unique in the sense that it was French Cuisine prepared by an Indian Chef and some people always think that French Cuisine must be prepared by a French guy. I thought it is quite silly to think that way.

Thirdly, Black Sheep Café and Table 66 are the only two outlets that would reply to emails and cater for a group of people with a budget. However, we couldn’t afford Table 66.

Fourthly, we want to dine somewhere off the safe and tested grounds like Au Petite Salut, Les Bouchons, the French Stall or Vis a Vis.

Last but not least, Chef Ratha out of a genuine passion for food was generous enough to cater an introductory menu for a group of people who are interested in the French Cuisine.

For these reasons, we picked Black Sheep Café over a number of restaurants around the island.

Had we made the right choice? For me, I can safely say yes we did.
Elated Moose
The dinner was attended by the four founders of theMOOSE, Yew Ann, Vinleon, Jia Yao and me. And we were glad to have eight guests to dine with us that evening and enjoy the creations of Chef Ratha.
On our guest list we had:
Michael and Kok Hui who were our army friends.
Liang Wei, a brilliant food lover,
Wei Liang, my colleague and fellow food lover.
Mu Yao who wrote the earlier reviews of 15 Minutes and Tampopo Deli, he is a talented photographer, writer and food lover,
and Jeremy Chan aka J-Chan, a very professional and passionate photographer.

All of us are from different backgrounds and some don’t even know each other but we were brought together by food for that evening. The menu was a special menu of $28 nett to introduce us to the French Cuisine.
The Dining Table
Liang Wei:"The dim lighting, the touch of France in the decor, the surrealist-contemporary pop paintings of black and white sheep made for a very inviting journey into the tiny enclave called the black sheep cafe.

The layout was minimalist, with just five tables and a kitchen. It had a very cosy feeling and we were pleasurably immersed in the homeliness of the eatery as night fell. expectedly, the dishes turned out by Chef Ratha were delectably simple, highlighting the freshness and flavour of the produce.”
Escargot Baked in Field Mushroom
For starters we had the Escargot Baked in Field Mushroom ($22/$26 for 6 pcs). It is a premium item not available on the ala-carte menu. As it was only a tasting portion, each person only got one. The escargot dish came along with a small piece of toasted bread and salad.
Escargot Baked in Field Mushroom
Liang Wei:“The first dish was a starter of escargots and field mushroom in cream sauce. The dish also came with a small serving of salad and a small piece of crunchy toast. The escargots and mushroom were finely done - juicy and cooked just fine. The cream sauce was neither too salty nor too cloying, complementing the escargots and mushroom very well. The toast was nicely done, lightly buttered and grilled over the fire to a crispy consistency.

However, i would have preferred it to have a little olive oil drizzled over it, so that there's another layer to explore taste-wise when the cream sauce melds together with the olive oil. The salad greens were fresh but ordinary. In my opinion, the vinaigrette could have been more intensely flavoured to make the salad greens rise beyond the mundane.”

Wei Liang felt that the way it was cooked did not bring out the flavour of the escargot because the cream sauce covered the taste of it and he would prefer the salad to have a more intense flavour."
Escargot Baked in Field Mushrom by Mu Yao
Baked Escargot in Field Mushroom. Taken by Mu Yao.
Mu Yao thought the sauce was too cheesy but it was good if you are a first timer.

Jia Yao who scoffed at the idea of having to eat a snail actually finished his starter, commenting that “it wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be because the garlic and mushroom pretty covered it”. Despite so, he is still against the idea of eating snails.

Vinleon on the other hand felt that the flavouring was not overpowering and that the flavours were pretty well-balanced.

Yew Ann felt it was not bad and Jeremy felt that the Escargot was nice.
Yum. by J-Chan
Yum. By J-Chan.
Personally, The escargot was fresh and if you are not into eating escargot, you don't have to worry, this dish was prepared in a way that it is friendly for first timers. The escargot's taste is toned down by the garlic, cheese and mushroom flavour, although some including me might felt that it the escargot flavour was being compromised in this manner. Nonetheles, it was yummy starter to start the dinner.

Baked Brie Cheese
The Baked Brie Cheese, Pistachio crusted Brie served with Citrus Fruit Compote ($11.00) was not part of the $28 nett. We ordered it out of curiosity after knowing that it was one of the signature dishes in the Black Sheep Café.

Liang Wei:“The second starter was baked brie cheese with citrus fruit compote (outside the set menu; $11.00). i liked the presentation of the dish; the brie cheese looked like an omelet du fromage but the flavour was much more concentrated.

This would be something for a cheese-lover or anyone with a taste for strong tastes. The citrus fruit compote was a nice pairing for the heavy-tasting cheese, though i would have preferred it to be in the form of a dip.”
Baked Brie Cheese by Mu Yao
Pistachio Crusted Brie Cheese served with Citrus Fruit Compote ($11.00) Taken by Mu Yao.
Generally, all of us who tried the Baked Brie Cheese, including me felt that the it has a smokey flavour with a bitter aftertaste. However, the warm, cheese with a crispy outer layer paired rather nicely with the cool, sweet, refreshing citrus fruits which included pomelo and orange.A very refreshing dish and definitely a mush have for cheese lovers. The cheese taste might be a bit on the heavier side for some people.
Makan Time
For Main Course, we had 3 choices, originally we only had two but Chef Ratha decided to provide another choice.

Apart from Michael, Liang Wei, Mu Yao and Jeremy Chan, all of us had the Black Sheep Shank, a signature dish of the Black Sheep Café. It was described as Lamb Shank braised in Red Wine and Special Blend of Herbs ($21.00).
Vin Eating
Vinleon:“The tendon was has a creamy texture and gamey flavour. Although heavy on the palate, I felt it was relatively good. Overall, it was a good effort.”

Wei Liang:
“It tasted like Beef Brisket. Normally lamb dishes have a heavy somewhat pungent flavour but this was not the case for this rendition of the Lamb Shank.

However, my dish happened to have a lot of bones…the rest were slip discs. There isn’t a lot of the gel feeling stuff in my dish though.”
The Black Sheep Shank by Mu Yao
The Black Sheep Shank. Taken by Mu Yao.
Jia Yao:
“I was pretty surprised that the lamb didn’t “reek” per say of its flavour as lamb/mutton usually has an overpowering taste which I hate. This dish was real tender which kind of reminded me of “hida beef” which I ate in Japan. The sauce for the lamb was good too and different from the usual mint sauce. =)

The mashed potato wasn’t too “chunky” like some restaurants, which makes you wonder why they even called it mashed potatoes nor was it too…mashed…like KFC. It suggests that it was literally mashed in the shop not too long ago, the texture was just right and I can taste some “grains” of the potato and yet not too “grainy”.”
The Black Sheep Shank
Personally, like the rest who had the lamb shank, I definitely agree that this lamb shank I had was indeed nice in a way that the heavy lamb flavour is not that apparent although there is still a slight gamey flavour. The meat comes off nicely from the bones and the meat was somewhat tender in a way that I don’t have to chew and struggle with the meat, it was well-executed in short. The mutton paired very well with the savoury sauce as well as the mashed potatoes which is not the usual (powdery, almost puree form of mashed potatoes you have elsewhere).
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti by Mu Yao
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti. Taken by Mu Yao.
Liang Wei, Mu Yao and Jeremy had the Duck Confit with Apple Roesti which was described as Crisp Roasted Confit Leg served with Tangy Mango Relish ($21.00).
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti
Liang Wei:
“My entree was the duck confit with apple rosti. The dish also came with mango relish and a serving of salad (same as the one for the escargot starter). The duck confit was superbly done, with the crackling nicely browned and slightly crunchy, layered underneath by a thin stratus of aromatic fat that melted in the mouth. The flesh was cooked just right, pink and juicy, with only the slightest hint of game as I chewed. The apple rosti turned out to taste more like potato rosti, but it didn't matter; it was delightfully sautéed with a generous amount of fragrant oil.

The mango relish was the key player in the entire dish. the acids in the mango and onions, as well as the kick provided by the chilli, parsley and mint, combined with the delicious cut of duck and its oil and fat to give a gorgeously nuanced taste that lingered on the palate. best entree!”
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti by J-Chan
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti by J-Chan.
Mu Yao:“The apple roesti didn’t taste apple-ish but tasted pleasant enough, it is on the oily side. The mango chutney is a refreshing complement, even though I amnot a big fan of parsley.

The duck was just right, not too dry, not too oil as well. Great Skin!”
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti by Mu Yao
Duck Confit with Apple Roesti by Mu Yao.
Baked Chicken with Goose-Liver Brandy Sauce
Last but not least, Michael had the Baked Chicken with Goose-Liver Brandy Sauce which he described as tender and just nice. It even came with small pieces of goose liver.
Baked Chicken with Goose-Liver Brandy Sauce by J-Chan
Baked Chicken with Goose-Liver Brandy Sauce by J-Chan.
On to the Desserts, Chef Ratha was kind enough to make a Lemon Crème Brulee for Yew Ann (something not on the ala carte menu), a Kahlua Soufflé for Liang Wei while the rest of us had the Flourless Chocolate Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream.
Moose with Lemon Creme Brulee by Mu Yao
Lemon Creme Brulee. Taken by Mu Yao.
After having his special dessert, the Lemon Crème Brulee, Yew Ann commented that it has a nicely caramelized layer and it was sweet yet not too sweet with a hint of lemon which was refreshing.

I had a go at the Crème Brulee, it was good, the caramelized layer was nicely done and I like the addition of the lemon flavour into the dessert. Comparing this with the one I had at District 10, I would still prefer the creamy and more fluid texture of the custard of District 10 but that was a Bourbon Vanilla Crème Brulee, so it is quite different in some way.
Kahlua Souffle by Mu Yao
Kahlua Souffle ($10.00). Taken by Mu Yao.
Liang Wei had the Kahlua Souffle ($10.00) which came with a scoop of Chocolate ice cream topped with sliced almond.

“Finally, I had a dessert of kahlua soufflé. it was quite an extraordinary dish, as the soufflé looked somewhat like a puff pastry atop a bowl of soup (I forgot what we call that...). But once I dug into the abominable mass, a lightly intoxicating aroma of coffee liqueur welcomed the senses. A spoonful of the incredibly light and not-too-dry soufflé tasted like egg custard foam mildly tinged with a whiff of caffeine.

Coupled with the chocolate ice cream and sliced almonds, the dessert sat light in the stomach but utterly fulfilled the epicurean mind. Close competition with the lemon crème Brule! :D”
Flourless Chocolate Cake by Mu Yao
Flourless Chocolate Tart served with Vanilla Ice Cream ($8.00). Taken by Mu Yao.

The rest of us had the Flourless Chocolate Cake served with Vanilla Ice Cream

Mu Yao:
“Delectably light, with not a overwhelmingly thick, sweet, gelak taste - this dessert is delightfully balanced with the tartness of the jam preserve and what seems to be handmade vanilla ice-cream (if so, a really nice touch). There is a lovely crispness of the tart itself, which is excellently contrasted with the soft spongy core - all making up for a sublimely executed dessert from Chef Ratha.”

Jia Yao:
“The cake was fluffy, and not tooo chocolately that would make you like… want to puke after eating too many mouthfuls. I can prob down maybe 2 or 3 more. The ice cream goes well with the raspberry sauce as well. I felt that the strawberries were a bit extra but I am not complaining.
Flourless Chocolate Cake
Vinleon:“The dessert was heavenly. It was rather smooth and the vanilla ice cream was not too sweet.”

Wei Liang:
“I will come back again. I like the dessert the most. It has almost the same taste as the Soffiato at Ricciotti.”

I never had a flourless chocolate cake. This is a nice first try. While I thought the vanilla ice cream was homemade, it was not. I had this impression because the ice cream was quite nice, it wasn't too sweet and was rather smooth. The cake was not dry not rough, it was quite smooth and slightly moist. The chocolate taste was nicely done without it being too rich. The cake and the sweet and sour raspberry sauce plus vanilla ice cream comes together beautifully.

At the end of the dinner, all of us were pleased if not satisfied with the dinner. However, some of us with a bigger appetite weren’t full as the dinner wasn’t a heavy one. The $28 nett set was more of a tasting rather than a full 3 course dinner. It was a steal in the sense that a 3-course French dinner normally can fetch up to $30 in not hundreds with + +.
Chef Ratha by J-Chan
Chef Ratha. Taken by J-Chan.
The service was excellent. Chef Ratha will come out to chat with us and checked if the food was okay or if we have any questions before and after the meal. While the café was short-handed, the seemingly only waiter was very prompt to entertain new guests, clear the plates, change a knife that Mu Yao dropped without him asking, refill our water and kept a friendly attitude throughout. It made me wonder why some of the larger restaurants weren’t able to provide such service.
Mu Yao with Camera by J-Chan
Mu Yao with Camera - Taken by J-Chan.
This is the longest review I had complied so far. In conclusion, I recommend trying out Black Sheep Café. Good food, good value, good service all in one.
theMOOSE at Black Sheep Cafe and Chef Ratha by J-Chan
A Group Photo with Chef Ratha. Taken by J-Chan.
The Black Sheep Café is located next to the historic Abdul Gafoor Mosque in Little India and they offer a $16 set lunch as well. On top of their ala carte menu, there are specials of the day like Prawn Bisque and Slow-Roasted Pork Cheeks, it changes occassionally and they also offer set lunches at $16 nett.

The cafe seemed to concentrate on their signature dishes so if you are looking for variety, you might be disappointed, but Chef Ratha is an approachable person who is very passionate about food, you might want to contact him if you have a special dish in mind within the French (but some might call it Fusion) Cuisine. Another piece of good news, no GST, no service charge!

Receipt:
Special Set Meal – 10 x $28
Baked Brie Cheese - $11

No GST! No Service Charge!

Address
35 Mayo Street

Tel: +65 9272 1842

Opening hours
Mon–Sat
11am–3pm, 6.30pm–11pm
(Closed on Sun)

Black Sheep Cafe
Rochor Road by J-Chan
Rochor Road. Taken by J-Chan.

11 comments:

  1. yea! you love it just like I do! :D

    ReplyDelete
  2. haha it was great, I will definitely go back again when I have the money and time (:

    ReplyDelete
  3. dude(s), this was a FANTASTIC post. i wish more food bloggers have such pure and sincere passion for food like you guys. a lovely read and i so want to try black sheep cafe soon!

    p/s: that yellow/orange drawing? really impressed.

    ReplyDelete
  4. to *Harris: Thanks =D You should really go try Black Sheep Cafe if you have the chance, the Duck Confit is really good.

    ;) I did the yellow painting, it is now part of the interior decoration of Black Sheep Cafe.

    ReplyDelete
  5. great post guys! it's great that you guys managed to know fellow foodies friends to create this flog together. btw love your drawings! it's drawn using a tablet pc? anw u guys are ex-vj or ex-tj pple?

    ReplyDelete
  6. to yumyumformytumtum: hey thanks (:

    yep apart from the painting and sketches, the drawings were done using a wacom tablet.

    it is a mix. We are from different JCs and Polys some of them were from VJ.

    ReplyDelete
  7. This Blog's essentially Xinli's baby. Giving Birth and nursing it is all the rage now. But for that, its amazing to see how much passion one can have for something.
    Respect

    ReplyDelete
  8. we should head out some day for a mini makan session. haha

    ReplyDelete
  9. to you are infected: haha thanks. one man can only do so much. you have been important to the family too =)

    ReplyDelete
  10. to Bella V: heh that would be nice

    ReplyDelete
  11. Great post!

    Is the last pic taken with the new miniature function in the new Canon?

    V cute.

    ReplyDelete

 

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