The hype: Keong Saik has no lack of exciting establishments, but French restaurant and bar Gaston Burgundy manages to stand out by offering a frills-free concept where you shouldn’t need to wait for a special occasion to go.
The vibe: The shophouse space is designed with the convivial Burgundy countryside in mind, where co-owner and General Manager Geoffrey Daurelle originally comes from. With Gaston (a common grandfatherly name in Burgundy), he hopes to showcase the region’s authentic, comfort French fare and exquisite wines in a casual setting, away from the baggage that usually comes with fine dining.
The food: It’s easy to like Gaston thanks to their unpretentious and heartwarming lineup of dishes. Start with some Escargots de Bourgogne ($15 for 6pcs/$28 for 12pcs), where snails are cooked in garlic and butter parsley then served in a crispy pastry shell. Or try the surprisingly appetising Croquettes Bourguignonnes ($9 for 3pcs), that has ham and epoisses cheese served in a dense fried ball.
Before moving onto the mains, definitely get the unpronounceable (and unmissable) Oeufs en Meurette ($13 small/$21 large), a hot pan dish of mushrooms, bacon, onions and poached eggs steeped in a red wine reduction sauce. In many ways, this simple item epitomizes what Gaston stands for – honest-to-goodness household fare done right.
But it’s the mains that are what’ll likely keep you coming back for more. The classic Boeuf Bourguignon ($32), the creation of Head Chef Julius Soo Thoo using Daurelle’s mother’s recipe, delivers a genuine taste of Burgundian home cooked meals. It’s a move not done enough here. Then there’s the vegetarian Ravioles de Royans a la Cancoillotte ($21), a pasta gratin dish that again surprises with its simplicity. The shallow plate of pasta dumplings are topped with zucchini slices then lavishly soaked in runny cheese and cooked till brown, resulting in each spoonful being a multi-textured explosion of flavours. You got to try this even if you’re not vegetarian.
The drinks: With a name like Gaston Burgundy, you’ll expect wines from the titular wine producing region to feature heavily; and you’ll not be disappointed. You won’t find a wine list here, but a walk-in cellar and Daurelle’s sommelier chops are all you need for a good wine recommendation from the nearly 350 labels available. There are plenty of Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs to choose from, plus thanks to Daurelle’s keen eye, you’ll find quality bottles from lesser known vintners (even outside Burgundy) here.
If you’re here just for drinks, the bar counter and cosy outdoor seats are perfect for that. And unlike most places, there is an extensive selection of up to 15 labels available by the glass, including Champagnes, so you’re not forced to open a bottle all the time for good vino.
Why you’ll be back: Quality French cuisine available at a reasonable price point. This place is a solid reminder that French fare can be accessible comfort food too.