The 20-year Au Petit Salut at Dempsey has revamped into Atout (pronounced as ‘ah-too,’ like R2D2.) Atout means “trump card” or “assert.” With the revamp comes a new chef, Patrick Heuberger, who used to be at Les Bistrot Du Sommelier. I have been to Les Bistrot thrice and took a cooking lesson with Heuberger once, so I am quite familiar with his food. For those who follow him, you’ll notice the similarities between the menus at Les Bistrot and Atout, although the former is more rustic and the latter more refined.
The menu here focuses a lot on charcuterie, cheeses, salads, and big sharing plates.
First thing first, they don’t provide complimentary bread, such a travesty really. How can any fine-dining restaurant not provide bread? (We got a small basket at $3. It is supplied from Bakerzin.) And then, they don’t provide butter for the bread; it costs $0.50. (The server should have informed us that the butter is not free when we ordered it.) These things are usually gratis at restaurants. Les Amis uses the best butter in France and it’s free-flow and free (Ok I know it’s factored into the pricing, but you know what I mean).
Furthermore, for a restaurant that made us to pay for bread and butter, we were given a pitcher of water and had to pour it ourselves. I think the servers are instructed not to pour water for us because no one bothered to. When they brought the pitcher, they left it there on the table. Jesus Christ. I thought we paid service charge so we didn’t have to service ourselves.
I don’t really know the positioning of the restaurant. The prices are surely high, but the service and the paid bread made this look like a casual restaurant.
But the food is delicious. We began with jambonneaux (100g, $10) and rabbit rillettes 100gm, $10). The jambonneaux looks like the Teochew pork aspic (di kar neng) but it’s actually knuckles in jelly, so you can chew on, unlike di kar neng, solid meat. It’s drizzled with a piquant wine sauce.
The rabbit rillette is not bad. There is a citrus (lime? lemon?) tinge to undercut, if any, gaminess (there isn’t). It’s light and easy, like the beautiful restaurant.
This “Forty Garlic” French chicken ($36) comes in a Chinese claypot and swims in oil. Perhaps there are other seasoning but oil is dominant. The oil maintains the moistness of the chicken when it is oven-roasted, although I think the chicken might have been seared first before putting into the oven. Although it swims in oil, the chicken itself is rather light. If you come in pairs, you can just order this for a main to share.
I am, at this moment, feeling irritated as I am typing the review because I realise that the servers did not introduce the dishes to us, and I cannot say for certain how the dishes are cooked or what ingredients they use.
Heuberger is, of course, best known for his spectacular steaks and this pepper-crusted Angus ribeye (500g, $88) is amazing. I don’t usually like peppery things because it overpowers the flavours of food, but here, the pepper gives a nice texture and you can still taste the “beefy-ness” of the steak. It sits on–the menu says–“brandy sauce” but it seems more like a delicious and creamy bechamel-related sauce. This dish is king!
While the food is good, the desserts are very disappointing. Heuberger is also known for his profiteroles ($20) at Les Bistrot, but here the choux is merely dried and crusty, instead of crisp and fluffy. The vanilla ice cream is generic and none of us liked the chocolate, which is too common.
It may be called the pleasure cake ($20), which is a kitkat cake, but it gives no pleasure at all.
“Good marketing to call this the pleasure cake,” I said.
My friend replied, “It does give pleasure if your threshold for pleasure is low.”
BURN. haha. Talking about burn, the cake is accompanied by burned butter ice cream, which doesn’t really have any taste. It’s sweet, but we couldn’t tell it’s burnt or if it’s butter. Can’t believe we paid $20 for this.
We paid about $235 for three persons. The savoury food is excellent, and I enjoyed that part of dining. But as to our dining experiences, vis-a-vis the desserts and the direction of the restaurant, Atout needs some work.
40C Harding Road Singapore 249548
tel: +65 6679 1800
You may be interested in…
–Summer Hill, Sunset Way: Rustic French Bistro by Former Chefs of Cocotte and Bird Bird
–Como Cuisine, Dempsey: Indian-Inspired Modern Cuisine Recommended by Foodie
–Merci Marcel, Tiong Bahru: Who is Marcel and Why Should We Thank Him?
–The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar Singapore: 3 Michelin-Starred Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Condescending Service, & Everything But the Signature Dishes
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.