Tucked away in an unassuming corner of Armenian street and nestled amongst a picturesque row of shophouses is a gem of authentic, flavoursome French fare—Le Bistrot Du Sommelier. Stepping into the doorway and catching the aromas drifting out of the kitchen, it’s not difficult to feel like you’ve just been transported right into the heart of France, all without the need for your passport.
We began our Tour de France by ascending the stairs to the Rillette Bar, with its vaulted ceilings and loft-like atmosphere. Starting the evening off was the Duck Rillette ($10.80/100g); luxuriously tender portions of duck that have been cooked confit and gently shredded, yielding a rich, savoury flavour explosion. Placed atop a piece of warm, freshly baked bread, it is divine. The Mackerel Rillette ($9.50/100g) came next, executed as excellently as the first, but with a distinctly different taste profile. The mackerel’s natural sea-sweetness is bright and refreshing, and is elevated by the delicate aroma of dill.
Rounding off this segment of dinner at the Rillette Bar was the ‘Ballotine’ ($18/150g), a treasure trove of chestnuts, meats and choice morsels such as rabbit, duck heart and foie gras. The greatest part about eating a Ballotine is the consistently exciting experience—every forkful rewards you with a unique combination of tastes and textures, each different from the last. It was with satisfied sighs that we bade farewell to the Rillette Bar and made our way to Le Bistrot Du Sommelier’s main dining area.
In the restaurant, a chandelier composed of wine glasses hangs gracefully above, reflecting the light brilliantly across the room and casting a warm glow onto its burgundy walls (a wholly appropriate colour, of course).
Recalling our admiration from the furnishings and back to the food was the Panaché de Fruits de Mer ($19); a wonderful medley of confit trout, sautéed squid, salad and ‘babajuan’—prawns cooked in a golden-yellow pastry pocket. The trout’s yielding texture provides contrast to the crisp pastry, while the squid’s light char brings depth to the dish; it is hard to pick a favorite, simply because each ingredient complements the others so effectively.
The next dish of Chataigne, Bettrave et Sabayon aux Cepes ($19) is a combination of yellow and red beetroots, chestnut mousseline, and a cepe mushroom sabayon. Easily the hot favorite of our group, the woodsy perfume of cepes lingers longingly over the sweet, subtle earthiness of beetroots, while a nutty crust of chestnuts completes the trio into a delightfully complex whole.
Arriving shortly after was the Poulet rôti, Cuisses en Vol-au-vent de Foie gras, jus Volaille aux Epices ($68, serves two); an artful plate of roasted French chicken and spiced jus, its dark meat baked with foie gras inside a crisp ring of puff pastry. Hot out of the kitchen, the chicken was succulent and incredibly moist throughout.
The Cuisse de Canard Confite aux Choix ($36) followed after; a hearty casserole of streaky bacon, home-made pork sausage and lamb shoulder, baked in a white bean stew. This one-pot-wonder is packed with umami, richly flavoured and, like many of the generous portions at Le Bistrot Du Sommelier, very suitable for sharing. That said, it’s tasty enough that you’d probably want the whole thing to yourself. The pork sausage is the star in this dish, with a delicious bite that tells of its carefully home-made heritage.
The final main course was the Onglet de Beouf ($32); cutting into the pan-seared beef onglet reveals a perfectly pink interior that, when covered with the accompanying shallot-garlic relish and creamy-smooth mash, requires quite a bit of self-control to not finish all of in one go. By this point we were well and truly stuffed, but as they say, there’s always room for dessert.
The first to arrive was the Soufflé à la Noisette ($25, serves two); it is a tower of a dessert, majestically tall and yet trembling in the characteristic manner of a soufflé pulled fresh out of the oven. It is quite possibly the largest soufflé I’ve seen in a while. Although its texture is slightly moister than my preference would have it, a deep hazelnut flavour fills the ramekin that immediately captures the senses. Accompanying the soufflé is a glass of dark chocolate ice cream which, while tasty in its own right, when taken together with the soufflé becomes a truly luscious combination.
Next to come was the Poire Pochée, Streuzel Chocolat et Ganache Montée Caraïbe 66% ($17); a poached pear is perched atop a bed of whipped ganache, and placed on a chocolate streuzel. The poaching liquor leaves the pear with a subtle spiced scent that nicely balances the velvety smoothness of the ganache. Yet, with its buttery-chocolaty biscuit crumb, it is the streuzel that is easily the crowd-pleaser.
Ending off the dessert trio were the Profiteroles ($15); indulgent portions of vanilla ice cream sandwiched between choux pastry, coated in warm chocolate sauce and toasted almond flakes—a suitably decadent finale to a thoroughly enjoyable meal. Our only wish was for more of the excellent choux pastry to mop up the remaining traces of ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Many may know Bistrot Du Sommelier for its selection of fine French wines, but equally impressive are the plates that come out of its kitchens. With a rotating seasonal menu, opportunities abound to sample the freshest flavours available. For those searching for a little getaway from the bustle of the city in the heat of the day, Le Bistrot Du Sommelier offers a prix fixe lunch menu ($35) that takes you on a three-course journey through classic French cuisine. From its specialty rillettes to the richly flavoured entrees and decadent desserts, a meal at Le Bistrot Du Sommelier is an experience in savouring the passionate art of food and drink.
Thank you Le Bistrot du Sommelier for the invitation.
|Le Bistrot du Sommelier|
|53 Armenian Street
Reservations: 6333 1982
Mon – Sat 12-2.30pm
Mon – Sat 6-11pmRillette Bar
Mon – Sat 12pm to Midnight