The French couple, Marie Charlotte Ley and Antoine Rouland, behind O Batignolles and O Comptoir, brings Merci Marcel, a chic French cafe/bistro, to Tiong Bahru. It is a lifestyle concept store that combines food and paraphernalia; you can buy cheeses, wines, and teas displayed at the front and back of the restaurant. I bought a good Stilton and a creamy truffle brie.
Like O Batignolles, the menu here is kept simple. For starters, the semi-dry 18th month aged Bayonne ham ($16), which comes with bread and pickles, has a beautiful complex taste. A sweet, almost strawberry-like fruitiness mellows into a mild saltiness. Very yummy.
uck rillettes ($18) and marinated crab rillettes ($18) are popular among customers, and we went for the latter because it is less commonly found elsewhere. It comes with sourdough and the rillettes is pleasant enough.
The French pizza, or more accurately known as the tart flambee ($24), is super thin, almost like biscuit. It’s topped with asparagus, blue cheese (which is easy), apple (refreshing!), and bacon.
I think mains should always come with sides at restaurants but unfortunately, at Merci Marcel, they don’t. The best of the mains we tried, black pepper tuna ($25), is done tataki style, just seared on the outside while raw in the middle. It’s drizzled with yuzu and soy vinaigrette and has a Japanese touch. Excellent.
The pork tenderloin ($24) is not gamy but it is also not memorable.
The Australian Angus beef (400g, $39) is topped with creamy mushrooms (which you can also order as a side for $10). I forgot to ask what cut it was, but it is tough, tougher than what we expected medium rare to be.
For the sides, we had French ravioli, ravioles de royan ($18) which are little pockets of pasta filled with Tete de Moine cheese in a creamy emulsion, topped with more shaved cheese. With that much cheese, it would be terrible if it tastes terrible. Of course, it didn’t. On the contrary, I think I could have finished it all on my own and maybe some more.
The desserts are simple but executed well. The chocolate cake ($10) is moist and dense but not excessively sweet, paired wonderfully with a homemade whipped cream; after a full meal, it does not add to the heaviness. The creme brulee ($9) is a tad too small for the price, but the passionfruit on top creates a nice contrast to the custard.
Merci Marcel provides an easy, fuss-free meal best for groups of friends to gather over cheese, wines, and meats. But who is Marcel? He is just a made-up character to give a persona to the shop. But indeed, we should thank Marcel for bringing such elegance to the ‘hood.
56 Eng Hoon St #01-68 Singapore 160056
tel: +65 6224 0113
8am-11.30pm, closed Mon
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Written by A. Nathanael Ho.
Categories: $40-$60, French, Large Group, Tiong Bahru
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