Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The French Kitchen

I had a truly terrific lunch at The French Kitchen last Friday. Tucked away in a hard-to-find corner of Central Mall, this is a venture between chef Jean-Charles Dubois, formerly of Raffles Grill and Emmanuel Stroobant of Saint Pierre fame. I had always wanted to try out the food at Raffles Grill when Chef Dubois was cooking there, but didn't get the chance to do so. But having read the rave reviews about The French Kitchen, it seemed that there was no longer any excuse to put off this long-awaited meal.

I was truly impressed when the bread came out and we were presented with both thyme butter and salmon rillettes as spreads. The bread itself wasn't that outstanding, but it was passable. This was followed by the amuse-bouche, the complimentary chef's surprise of a cod brandade served with a parmesan crisp and drizzled with wonderfully fresh tasting and assertive basil oil.

Since I was attempting to be on some kind of "diet", I chose the consomme ambassadeur - a clear free-range chicken broth with mushrooms, truffles, and puff pastry crust. Wow, this was superb. The broth was clearly made with happy chickens - so much depth of flavour, surprisingly light, yet the savoury chicken taste still shone through and was not overwhelmed by the truffles.

My friend had the kurobuta pork cheek and foie gras terrine which she thought tasted a trifle like Spam, but still good nonetheless. I would have taken this but for the so-called diet....

And my main of chargrilled lamb tenderloin, done medium, with Bearnaise sauce. I liked it - no musky "lamb" smell. But my goodness, this was so outdone by my friend's main of seared striploin with glazed white asparagus and bone marrow! This was the first ever time that I tasted bone marrow. Wow, it has a taste sensation that I can only describe as feral. I could close my eyes and imagine the lifeforce of this cow, all compressed into a little bit of quivery jelly, melting in my mouth with coarse grains of sea salt. More please.

Alright, drama over, it was time for dessert. We had the poached peach with almond ice cream and dark chocolate creme brulee with vanilla ice cream. I personally thought that dessert was the most unimpressive part of the meal, but hey, what do you know, I don't have a sweet tooth and thus can't appreciate desserts.

At $36 for lunch, this has got to be one of the best-ever set lunches around given the quality and quantity of the food that you get. The service is almost faultless - warm and observant, without veering into that hyperactive "hiya, I am your new best friend" territory. They serve an early bird degustation of 6 courses - including all those I wrote about in this post - for a real steal price of $68 if you order before 7.30pm. Oh, I am so in love with this restaurant! Not everything is perfect, but oh, its highlights are so dazzling! (And also, Chef Dubois is quite the good-looker, with deep blue eyes and an impish smile. Ooh, I shook hands with him as we left the restaurant). Finally, Au Petit Salut has been pushed aside in my books. I can't wait to go again, stupid "diet" begone.

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