A chandelier of wine glasses adorn the ceilings of Bistrot du Sommelier, maps on the walls shows the various wine regions of France, Beaujolais, Bourgogne, Loire Valley….this little cosy shophouse located along the Armenian Street is like a portal to France.
Ribeauvillé, Alsace, France | 2014
The food, the atmosphere and the little details, evoked memories of my visit to the France last year. Before the meal, we visited the bar area upstairs, a space meant for drinks and socializing over some charcuterie or cold cuts (and cheese), all of which are available for purchase over the counter. We only had one from the menu:
Rabbit Pork, Duck, Foie Gras ‘Ballotine’ | 18.00++SGD for 150 gm | Great.
A savoury appetizer stuffed with plenty of ingredients including chestnuts, chunks of rabbit and duck meat with smooth, creamy foie gras embedded within. Loved the variations in textures from the mix of ingredients within and amazingly the flavours are rather balanced, without anything too sharp or conflicting.
The meal begun with in-house baked baguette served with some quality Le Petite Normand butter which is available at Phoon Huat according to the Kitchen Tigress. Love the smooth, creamy and mild butter to pair with the crusty, fluffy baguette.
Then we had the appetizers:
Panaché de Fruits de Mer | 19.00++ SGD | Great.
Prawn’s ‘Babajuan’, Confit Trout, Sautéed Squid and Pourpier Salad
The babajuan is a kind of pastry pocket or fried ‘wanton’ in a more colloquial term. It is how you would imagine a prawn babajuan to be, a really good fried version of the har gaw. The squid was awesome but even more stellar was the confit trout with a light dressing and chives. The meat comes off tenderly like layers of the kueh lapis, each layer was succulent and done right.
Chataigne, Bettrave et Sabayon aux Cèpes | 19.00++ SGD | Excellent
Chestnut mousseline, steamed beetroot and cepes mushroom sabayon.
Beetroot, like capers often make people cringe a bit. It is just one of those ingredients that has a more acquired taste. Here however, because it was steamed, the flavours of the beetroot was significantly toned down, and what comes through was a mild sweetness and textures like that of a poached pear or peach. There are two kinds of beetroot in this salad, a purple and orange one. The purple one has a stronger flavour but still mild in comparison to the actual thing. These are paired with a concentrated, ‘crispy’ mushroom paste known as sabayon made from Cepes, more commonly known as Porcini mushrooms. The combination is amazing especially and everyone comes together with the slightly nutty, creamy chestnut mousseline.
On to the mains, it is a distinctly meat-centred menu, with little options for vegetarians. The portions are quite big, comparable to what a bistrot would have served in Alsace. We start off with a seasonal special that is off the main menu.
Onglet de Boeuf | 32.00++ SGD | Good.
Pan-seared Beef ‘Onglet’ served with creamy mash.
This looked pretty good was quite decent with the shallot and garlic confit on top. However, what caught me by surprise was how rich and creamy the deceptively light-looking mash was. The mash is excellent too and a safe pairing with the beef onglet. My only complaint is that they should provide proper knives for cutting the meat, the normal knives just does cut out to do justice to the meat.
Poutlet rôti, Cuisses en Vol-au-vent de Foie Gras, jus Volaille aux Epices | 68++ SGD | Good.
Oven-roasted French chicken, shredded duck and foie gras in puff pastry, spice chicken jus.
No, rôti has nothing to do with roti as we know it, it just means roasted. This long titled dish just means chicken done two ways, a clean refined roasted version and an over the top version with puff pastry and many stuff. Unsurprisingly, the puff pastry version was a bit too much as too many things are going on and whole it sounded luxurious, it isn’t pretty and the result as a monotonous blend of flavours and textures. Less means more is true for the oven-roasted French chicken which was very juicy and well-seasoned with herbs and spices. A bit of the rich chicken jus makes it irresistible. It is also the lightest of the main dishes that we had.
Cuisse de Canard Confite aux Choix | 36.00++ SGD | Decent.
Cassoulet Style: streaky bacon, pork sausage, lamb shoulder baked in a white beans stew.
This could easily be the French answer to the pencai (盆菜), packed with ingredients that it is like a treasure hunt while eating the white bean stew. This is a rich, hearty, slow-cooked stew, originated from the south-western region of France and got its name from the earthenware pot known as cassole. The hearty flavours and use of tomato paste, white beans and spices carries some of that Mediterranean flavours that we would associate with Spanish, Italian, Balkanian and Moroccan cuisines. A similar Serbian dish is Pasulj. In this little bistrot, we are sort of doing a mini culinary tour de France. The stew is suitable for 3-4 people to consume and have a tasty pork sausage and chunks of lamb shoulder within.
Last but not least, we have the desserts. You will find several French classics such as the Crème Brulee and Profiteroles but we opted for the:
Soufflé à la Noisette | 25.00++ SGD | Good.
Hazelnut soufflé and dark chocolate ice-cream.
It is a spectacle for the dining table. One of the largest soufflé I had thus far. The mixture was done well, balanced, light and creamy within and you could just have the soufflé on its own without the ice cream.
Poire Pochée, Streuzel Chocolat et Ganache Montée Caraïbe 66% | 17.00++ SGD | Good.
Poached Pear served with chocolate streusel and Caraïbe 66% whipped ganache.
This is pretty decent too, but I find it a tad pricey for the portion.
You can’t miss out the wines at Bistrot du Sommelier where wines are just as important as the food. We had a sweet 2014 Moscato’d Asti by G.D Vajra, from northwest Italy, in a region of Piedmonte consisting of the famed Alba and Bra where the Slow Food Movement had originated. We also had the slightly sharp and acidic 2012 Sauvignon Rouge from Burgundy by Bachelet – Monnot.
Overall, I enjoyed the meal at Bistrot du Sommelier, the food by the young but experienced Brandon Foo (29 Years Old) is very classic and comfort French food. The place has a pleasant laid-back atmosphere that is ideal for gatherings. In that context, the food seemed to be made for sharing especially those from the a la carte menu. We saw quite a few groups of expats and wine aficionadas at the restaurant, having a communal meal over some wine. It really does bring back the memories of my trip to the Alsace. Once in a while for a special occassion, you could step into Le Bistrot du Sommelier, leave the world outside, and just have a good time over good food and wine, la belle vie.
Le Bistrot du Sommelier is located along Armenian Street, contrary to another blog, it is not "picturesque" as there is a construction going on next door for the Kwa Geok Choo Law Library. However, it is a great place to check out the exhibitions at the Substation, visit the historic Armenian Church, admire the art-deco style shophouses of Loke Yew Street, one of which was where Royston Tan filmed Hock Hiap Leong in 2002. You can visit the Peranakan Museum or the Singapore Philatelic Museum too.
The nearest MRT stations are Bras Basah Station on the Circle Line and a bit farther, City Hall and Dhoby Ghaut MRT Stations.
53 Armenian Street
Thank You Eychelle and Matthias from Food News for the invitation!