Le Bistrot

We don’t usually venture into the congested and nebulous neighborhood of Joo Chiat, but just this once we made an exception, and we didn’t regret it. Once we stepped into this casual, laidback restaurant, the surroundings melted away to leave us basking in the simplicity of deep red walls and polished wood furnishings. Of instant appeal was the restaurant’s policy of allowing guests to customize their own dinner set, and we chose the entrée, main and dessert set in anticipation of a fine dining experience. We started with gravlax—thick home-cured salmon slices served with a tantalizing drizzle of olive oil—which was chewy and not excessively salty the way it tends to be elsewhere. Equally enchanting was the huge portion of country-style chicken pâtè encased in a luscious strip of fatty bacon. The light smokiness of the bacon balanced out the slightly dense texture of the liver. For mains, we tried the filo parcel of beef tenderloin and the fricassee of chicken and escargots. The beef arrived wrapped in filo pastry, looking like a giant wanton, which was a bit of a novelty. Eating it was no easy task because the pastry flaked all over the table while the accompanying brown sauce rapidly made it soggy. But it tasted decent, the chopped mushrooms nicely complemented the flavor of the meat and the crispiness of the filo shards that had escaped the brown sauce. However, the chicken was disappointing; the escargots did not go well with the sauce, which tasted too much like canned tomato puree. We would have preferred the chicken with herb sauce, but at least the poultry was tender. The desserts, fortunately, were mind-blowing. We really enjoyed the lemon tart, which came served with a yummy honey and mascarpone cream. The zesty lemon jam-like filling, along with the frothy sourness of the mascarpone, teased our taste buds. Also delicious was the financier, an almond butter cake, which looked unimpressive but tasted warm and soft and left a subtle almond aftermath in our mouths. We clinked glasses of kir royale and regular kir to end our feast on a decadent note, before swanning out in a haze of satisfaction.