Bistro Du Vin

Our experience at Bistro Du Vin was—how do you say in French?—comme ci, comme ça (a very fancy way of saying so-so). On the comme ci side is the place itself. Like all good bistros, the menu is written on a blackboard, the chairs are small and made of wood, the tables are small and made of marble and the floor is tiled. The staff consisted of locals who did a great job explaining—and pronouncing—all the French dishes (OK, so you don’t get that wonderful French accent, but you also don’t get the snobbery for which Parisians are so famous). Like the place itself, the food was presented and prepared beautifully but—and here comes the comme ça side of things—was not always all that tasty. The pan fried red mullet with aubergine caviar starter was crispy on the outside, tender and moist on the inside, but the flavor was nearly invisible. My dining companion was practically salivating for warm goat cheese salad (a traditional bistro dish not easily found on our island outpost) but her palate was let down by a chèvre that, while creamy and well-textured, lacked its signature tanginess. The Kurobuta pork chop, while on the thin side, was correctly cooked yet covered in an alleged mustard sauce that tasted like something you might find in a frozen dinner. For dessert, the chocolate fondant was rich, thick and potently pleasing but the small lump of vanilla ice-cream next to it couldn’t keep pace—we had to ask for another scoop, and we were taking really small bites! There were two dishes that offered a bit of redemption. One was a woodsy mushroom fricassee with morels and poached egg that was faultless. The other was so-tender-it-nearly-dissolved braised beef served in delicious wintery gravy. It was the kind of dish you could imagine having with a flagon of wine in a French tavern on a cold night. Which is perhaps the best quality of this place—it is so completely not Singapore that a visit here could be worth it just to be transported to Europe. Just be sure to pack reasonable expectations.