The RERG team has two traditions: Annual Slut-It-Out Overseas Countdown Friendship Tour and Annual Suit-Up Christmas Dinner. This year, our overseas trip isn’t happening. Wise Guy and Mr NGFL want to uncover why half of Singapore’s gay population fly to Taipei for countdown; Huccalily and Ms Atas, having the advantage of oral English, want to tap into Tokyo’s SPG market–for the fifth time (but Wise Guy has just been to Tokyo); Chiobu has started on a new job while Yandao wants to celebrate birthday, which is on Christmas, with friends and family in Singapore (Happy Birthday in advance!), and besides, they have already been to Paris, London, Bali, Malaysia and Seoul this year. None of us compromise and all of us are crestfallen that we are not spending Christmas and New Year together. Eventually, Chiobu put her foot down, “We really should continue our Christmas Dinner, even if we’re not going overseas together.” This year, instead of having our dinner on Christmas eve, we had it on 14th, the only day we were all free.
French Onion Soup
For our past Christmas dinners, we had them at Prive Restaurant, Coriander Leaf and Absinthe. We picked Brasserie Gavroche (BG), serving French cuisine, because: (1) we hang around K Town (Tanjong Pagar) often for Korean food and every time we pass by BG, we look in on the warm glow, like Oliver Twist looking into a cake shop, and we always vow we would enter one day; (2) Philippe Pau, director of Au Jardin and Bistro Du Vin, recommended BG to us when we were dining at Au Jardin, even though he and Chef Frederic Colin of BG are mere acquaintances (may we commend on how generous Philippe is? A kiasu Singaporean will never recommend a rival restaurant; we must learn altruism, cooperation and open-heartedness from the French); and lastly, because we had a great time at Cafe Gavroche, the sister of BG.
Salade de Crevettes et Avocat
What an excellent choice we made! The restaurant was magical, transporting us to an old Paris shown in movies. Like the Cafe, every piece of furnishing is imported from France. BG is roughly divided into two areas by an old piano: the front is a bar or for those who wait for seats to dine and the back, the dining area: old school interior designing, especially with the gorgeous mosaic floor and photos of Chef Colin’s grandpa Henri adorning on the walls. There was an ineffable glow that was at once homely and dreamy. We couldn’t say enough on how much we love the place.
Poached Eggs on Toast
However, the atmosphere could get a little rowdy–which could be fun–except that customers from other tables were speaking so loudly that we couldn’t hear ourselves. Maybe this is a place more suited for lovebirds, sitting close to each other, than for big groups because communication proved impossible.
Perhaps because of the packed restaurant, the service was a tad haphazard. Sometimes we couldn’t get the servers’ attention and we had to remind them for water or other things. But in general, we didn’t have to wait long and the service was efficient and friendly.
Veal Sweetbread Salad
For starters, we recommend: oeuf meurette ($16) or two poached eggs on toast and bacon soaked in red wine reduction was pleasing; the veal sweetbread tossed with mâche salad in salade de ris de veau ($23) made the generous serving of salad sing; shrimps–more like prawns when we had them–and avocado in salade de crevettes et avocat ($24) were light, good for anyone on a diet.
Grandpa Henri’s Terrine
But the onion soup ($15) wasn’t as thick and intense as we liked it to be. All six of us preferred the Bistro du Vin’s rendition. As for Grandpa Henri’s baked pork terrine with foie gras (duck liver, in this case, not goose, $26), a slice of hollowed out bread with the terrine in the middle, we were ambivalent. We could see how the dish could work, with the sweetness of pork (and pork jelly) and butteriness of foie gras and, in fact, we had something similar before and we didn’t like it too. This traditional French dish is probably an acquired taste, so if you’ve an angmoh tastebud, go for it. Otherwise, no.
The next time we return, we will try these starters: the bone marrow ($19), an increasing popular dish in USA; the snails (of course!, $20); and the interesting Chitterling sausages and mustard potato salad ($25, chitterling sausages use pig intestines as casing).
Grilled Angus Flank Steak
Grandpa Henri’s Port Hotpot
For the mains, we recommend: despite not being a steakhouse, the grilled Angus flank steak ($32) was among one of the better steaks we had. It was tender, juicy and buttery, good enough to be eaten on its own and in the red wine sauce, quite perfect. We were quite surprised to find Grandpa Henri’s Pork Hotpot ($35) similar to a Chinese soup, cabbage with pork belly and pork ribs. Although similar, it came in a huge pot, hearty, shiok and warming drinking the soup. The grilled lamb chops ($38) were fantastic too: succulent, well-balanced, without a lamb-y stench. The lemon sole with brown butter ($38) was crispy on the surface but moist and tender within, tasty, quite a win except that it came as an entire fish, with bones still intact. It’d be nice to remove the bones for patrons.
Grandpa Henri’s Quenelle
There were mixed reviews for Grandpa Henri’s fish quenelle with crayfish sauce ($35). Both Chiobu and Mr NGFL ordered it and neither finished it. Quenelle is a meat–fish in this case–combined with cream and breadcrumbs, or what Mr NGFL called, a French fishcake. Wise Guy liked it because the texture was similar to a pate and it was easy to eat but it also seemed to be an acquired taste. Poor Chiobu, she ordered both Grandpa Henri’s terrine and quenelle and didn’t quite like them.
Grilled Lamb Chops
When we return, we will try the quintessential French dish, duck confit ($32); an interesting braised veal head ($36) and one of our favorite French dish, mussels in white wine sauce ($38).
Tart Tatin, or upside down apple tart.
A pity about the desserts. Out of the six available desserts, priced at $14 each, we voted to order and share three desserts: profiteroles, tart tatin (apple pie), and crepes suzette. We had such a wonderful meal thus far but the desserts didn’t step up. The profiteroles were amazing because the vanilla ice cream, dotted with vanilla pod, was creamy and oh-so-rich. But the tart tatin was limp and Chiobu complained that the visually stunning crepes had a strong oil stench while Huccalily said Grand Marnier was overpowering the delicate taste of orange.
Crepes Suzette: pouring alcohol on fire onto the crepes.
Regardless of the desserts, all six agreed that we had an excellent meal, we loved the vibe of the restaurant and would definitely return to try all the dishes. The food was hearty, delicious and executed admirably and if we didn’t like the dish, the fault lay with us for not being acculturated to that dish. For our past Christmas dinners, we spent about $100 to $150 for the meal but this time, to our pleasant surprise, we only paid $75 each for six persons, quite reasonably priced. That means we have $50 more to spend on our Annual Slut-It-Out Overseas Countdown Tour!
66 Tras St
T: 6225 8266
M-F: 11.30am-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm
Rating: 3.825/5 stars