I hadn’t made any successful reservation during the last Singapore Restaurant Week as the restaurants that I wanted to visit were all fully-booked by the time I was down to it. So in the recent same event (7-13 October 2013), I acted early to secure a lunch reservation at Taratata Bistrot, not because it was one of the few restaurants with available slots but its menu was appealing enough for me to want to try it.
French cuisine in a French Bistrot helmed by two Frenchmen, Chef Bertrand Raguin and Chef Philippe Nouzillat. How authentic can it get? Both chefs have more than 20 years of culinary experience in top-notch fine dining restaurants as well as Michelin-starred establishments around the world. At only S$25++ per person for a 3-course lunch, dining here is just an inexpensive affair.
I am truly captivated by the Parisian-style decor of the bistrot that exudes this old European vintage charm with its wooden tables & chairs, warm lighting and black-and-white photographs on the wall. The floor space is not huge so the furniture is placed quite close to one another. If you’re not bothered whether your neighbours can overhear your conversation with your dining mates, then it’s not an issue.
I had requested for a corner table when I made my reservation and Ms Marie-Agnès Labopin, the front-of-house, had sent me an email to confirm that my request had been taken care of. I appreciated the thoughtful pre-dining service as she had also sent a few email reminders as my reservation was made more than a month ago which could easily slip out of my mind.
As we arrived earlier before our selected time slot, we had to wait for a couple of minutes outside the restaurant for all guests from the 1st seating to leave and for the restaurant to refresh the table setting which didn’t take long. We were then greeted by big smiles and ushered to our table speedily. Ms Labopin even exclaimed to me that she had reserved a lovely corner table for us. She’s very candid which we like. Made us feel like we’d walked into a friend’s house for lunch. Orders were also taken promptly.
When a basket of bread and butter was served, I was already excited to find out if the bread was warm. And indeed, it was. I always love fresh, warm and moist French baguettes. And this was even better because it had the sourdough tang that I adore! The slab of butter could be softened more for easy spreading.
The menu had 2 selections for appetiser, 2 choices for main and 1 standard dessert. We ordered one of everything so we could try them all.
Demie-Douzaine d’Escargots au Beurre d’Ail Persillé
(Half Dozen of Snails Baked in Herbed Garlic Butter)
The escargots were surprisingly tender as I had expected them to be a little chewy like most served in other restaurants. The fragrance of the herbs and garlic simply burst in your mouth with every bite. It may not be the best escargots I had (I prefer the ones from Au Petit Salut) because the butter used was unsalted so that extra punch wasn’t there. Also, there wasn’t enough buttery sauce for us to dunk our bread in. Great pity.
The bread was so good, we couldn’t resist ordering another basket (S$2.00)!
Saumon Mariné Mi-Cuit au Poivre et Salade de Tomate Momotaro a l’Huile de Basilic
(Seared Marinated Salmon with Black Pepper & Momotaro Tomato Salad with Basil Oil)
A very refreshing salad with a thick slice of salmon on top. I like how everything was put together with a generous drizzle of basil oil. The textures of the various vegetables blended well with one another. The only downside was that the taste of raw garlic was so strong that it overpowered the flavours of the other ingredients.
Pied de Cochon aux Champignons
(Crispy Oven-Baked Pork Trotter with Mushrooms Fricassée)
The husband loved this, well, being meat. I enjoyed the crust on the pork trotter that gave it a nice, smoky flavour. However, the meat inside was a tad too dry, probably because it was oven-baked. The mushrooms fricassée was nicely done and the mash was creamy and flavoursome. You’d have to cut and fork each piece of meat with a little sauce and mash. Everything just married beautifully.
The young couple at the table beside us commented (quite loudly =p) that the plate was so oversized, the pork trotter looked like a miserable portion. Actually we did share the same sentiments. But it’s always so with French cuisine!
Coquilles Saint Jacques à la Normande
(Baked Sea Scallops with Mussels, Prawns, Mushroom & Cheese)
I preferred this seafood au gratin to the pork trotter. Huge, juicy scallops on a bed of mashed potato gratin with fresh mussels, prawns, sweet mushrooms and a slight tinge of cheesy goodness. I could also taste a sweet-sharp, grassy flavour from the fresh dill used. Very nicely executed dish though I wish there was a bit more cheese.
Tarte au Chocolat et Caramel au Beurre Salé, Glace Vanille
(Chocolate & Caramel Tart, Vanilla Ice Cream)
Dessert must be my most favourite course of the entire meal! The chocolate tart was almost the best I’ve ever had. One cut into the tart, you’ll get dark chocolate oozing out like lava. The warm tart combined with the cold handmade vanilla ice cream left an unbelievable sensation on the tongue. Best of all, it was not cloyingly sweet at all. I could easily devour a few plates of this!
Ms Labopin and her service staff would pop over to our table at regular intervals to make small talk and get feedback from us on the food. We enjoyed ourselves so much that there were bouts of laughter coming from our table every now and then. We ordered teas (S$4.00 per teapot set per person) just so we could continue to chill out after the meal.
A warm and welcoming ambience, coupled with unpretentious home-cooked style French food and wonderful, friendly hospitality, why would we not return again? There are loads on the regular menu that I’d love to try next time.
Special thanks to Ms Labopin and team for making lunch so memorable at your premise. We will be back.
35A Keong Saik Road
Tel: 6221 4506
11.30am to 2.30pm (lunch), 2.30pm to 5.30pm (tea) from Tue to Fri & Sun
5.30pm to 11.00pm (dinner) from Tue to Sun
(Closed on Mon)