Balzac Brasserie: Old school French

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There are just some days when you crave for traditional foods. Debating our choices for dinner venues, my companion (a schoolmate from Le Cordon Bleu Sydney) and I settled on Balzac Brasserie for a quick escape from the usual rigours of nouvelle cuisine. Tonight we go old school.

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Balzac Brasserie is exactly what you would picture a typical French brasserie that claims to serve simple, homey food: the interior styled in a interesting juxtaposition of sidewalk cafe and Parisian bar and bistro, with deep shade of mahogany and leather. To one side of the dining area are cafe chairs that usually line the sidewalks of Paris with a back drape of luscious greenery cascading from the high ceilings; the other side features a antique zinc bar with high chairs and booth seats, exuding a cool underground vibe as the trades picked up pace through the night.

Drawing inspiration from his own family's recipes, Executive Chef Jean-Charles Dubois serves up a classic french menu and manges to do so with aplomb; highlighting the integrity of the fresh produce he employs. Perusing the menu, it wasn't hard to zoom in our final decisions despite the rather extensive menu.

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The meal begins with Foie Gras de "Castaing" ($24) for me; homemade foie gras terrine served with fig and raisin compote, farmer's toast and petite salade. Seriously rich stuff with the crunchy farmers toast helping to mitigate the taste. I adored the delicate endive salad on the side which helped me to ease into each sumptuous bite of the good stuff.

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The Escargots de Bourgogne (Dozen for $22);gratinated beure Provencale style with parsley, garlic and butter; was a real disappointment. Bland. We had to resort to massive movements with the salt shakers to achieve a nice balance of flavors. And honestly, service standards were truly lacking. If you want to ask us how the meal was, please stand still for a moment at the table instead of zipping around the tables, leaving our answers hanging in mid air. Basic courtesy.

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Entrecote ($34) - 200gr black angus served with bearnaise sauce and pommes frites. Definitely a commendable dish with the red meat cooked to a perfect medium rare , an enthralling sear on the outside to seal in the juices. The sauce also made a world of a difference - the bernaise made of clarified butter emulsified in egg yolks, white wine vinegar and flavoured with herbs, well seasoned, it's lusciousness a good partner to the integrity of the steak.

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Another success was the Duck Confit($26) , the duck, a melt in your mouth kind of delicious, humming with the romance of a fine pinot noir. The bed of truffle mash, so smooth, almost like it was sieved thru the finest strainer. With crispy skin, the salt helping to draw any left remnants of moisture out, this provides for the only textural contrast required in this traditional dish. Very well executed indeed.

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Balzac Brasserie separates itself from the throngs of new and old restaurants springing up all over the island with its dedication to old school French cookery techniques and dishes. For one, the food certainly hits the spot, but the same cannot be said for the whole dining experience. The service could use a little fine tuning: more attention to detail, perhaps a little more friendly interaction with the guests? I'm not asking for a lap dance over here, maybe just a sincere warm smile once in a while wouldn't hurt?

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Balzac Brasserie
Rendezvous Hotel,
9 Bras Basah Road
Phone: 63360797

1 comment:

Derrick Tan said...

Walk passed this place several times but has never tried the food. Looks like I need to drop by for a meal. I love to try the duck confit.