Bistro Gaston at Keong Saik serves Burgundian (French) fare but the mainstay is really the wines of 350 labels from France and elsewhere. Unfortunately for us, we, who drink very little, did not know that they focus more on the wine than the food, and the food turned out mediocre and tasteless.
Accompanying the carafe of Chardonnay (250ml, $18 happy hour before 7pm) shared between the two of us), the Planche de Charcuterie (100/200gm, $19/$34) consists of wild boar terrine, rosette (the French version of salami), duck rillettes and parma ham. The terrines I have eaten tend to be salty but this wild boar terrine isn’t; this lovely and not-at-all gamy terrine depends wholly on the taste of the natural ingredients. The rillette is also nice: mild and pleasant.
However, the Planche de Fromages (100/200gm, $22/$36) of comté, époisses, brillat savarin, and vézelay is not good. A good cheese plate should consist of different textures and flavours; and should also come with fruits, or nuts, or jam to undercut the richness. But here, the four standalone cheeses–3 of which are from Burgundy– have repeating textures and flavours that make the cheese plate boring and heavy. For instance, the époisses and brillat savarin share the turpentine aftertaste; and vézelay and époisses have a similar buttery texture. More care could go into the selection of cheeses.
As a starter, the tarte a la tomate et chevre frais ($12) restored our confidence in the bistro. The fresh (and crumbly) goat cheese and tomato tart comes with arugula, pistou (French pesto), and aged balsamic vinaigrette. A simple dish but the combination is miraculous. All the umami and complexity of sourness, bitterness, sweetness, saltiness interacting with one another. Must order this.
For the mains, the truite a l’Aligote ($28) is a steamed rainbow trout, a species of salmonid, which in its fillet form looks and tastes like a mild form of its cousin, salmon. Even with the white wine sauce, the fish is still bland although the pommes fondantes, which are cylinder-shaped potatos browned on the ends in in stock and butter, are fantastic – but really is anything soaked in butter ever not delicious? (hyperbole here.)
The Boeuf Bourguignon ($32), or the classic beef stew in a red wine sauce with mashed potato, is disappointing. The stew itself is not rich or sweet enough and the beef is so overcooked that it becomes dry and gritty like sand.
We sent the boeuf bourguignon back and the French manager (owner?) said that the dish would come back with the same results, advising us to order another dish. He recommended the Le Cochon ($26), or pan-seared pork loin with tomato sauce & confit tian (which is like a ratatouille). The center of the pork is still pink, indicating that it is not overcooked, but I am not sure why it is tough as nails. Is it because the slice is too thick so that even though the center is still pink, the surrounding area is overcooked and becomes hard? Compounding to the problem of texture, the pork itself is tasteless.
It was a tough call which the worse dish was: the beef or the pork. We decided to cut our losses and leave. Paid $147 for two persons. Is Burgundian food supposed to be saltless?
25 Keong Saik Rd, Singapore 089132
tel: +65 8661 2788
M 5pm – 12.00am; T – Th 11am – 12am; F – Sat 11am – 12am; closed Sun
You may be interested in…
–HE Bistro & Bar, Duxton: Playful Singaporean Fusion Cuisine with Fun Cocktails
–FrapasBar by Saveur, The Cathay: FRAnce + tAPAS = Frapas
–Merci Marcel, Club Street: The Same Same But Different Second Outlet of the Casual, Simple French Bistro Dining
–Bar-roque Grill, Tanjong Pagar: New Michelin Bib Gourmand Recipient, Meatcentric and Borderless
Written by Dr. A. Nathanael Ho.