Verre: Where the wine is good, but the food, Exceptional.

In the orange-cast skies of dusk, Verre coaxes its victims to take the plunge. Take a leap of faith into its laps of burgundy red and crisp white luxuries. Although, it's steel cut edges and modern angular approach are not particular heart-warming or appealing to those seeking a piece of familiarity without hints of cold office politics. But in all due respect, food was an immaculate display of perfection, each course revealing more elaborate tricks in its wake. Service even more so, restrained and meek without the need for constant affirmation. Here, the wine flows freely, judgemental stares, a little less so; so, sit back, whip your hair to the side, and enjoy the thrills and spills of the cuisine served up by kitchen maestro, Masashi.

It's less saloon cooking than true-blue wine bar cuisine; smear indulgent drags of Chicken Liver Parfait ($24) over fresh baked slices of baguette,whilst sipping on a dry and citrus crisp Paringa estate Riesling 2012 ($19.50) - the affluence driven by sweet madeira, black pepper, shallots and offset by a luminous layer of mandarin orange jelly. Then progress on to heftier bar bites with the hooking Tarte Flambe ($22), a classic Alsatian dish which combines bread dough rolled out to paper thin status topped with raw egg yolk mix and creme fraiche; caramelized onions, button mushrooms and gruyere cheese complete the equation, formulating a pre-dinner snack too perfect that it would have you neglecting your recommended pairing of Marcell Deiss Gewurtraminer 2012 ($18). Then again, if you're a fan of the lychee-aroma ed wine style, this is one rendition you'll not want to miss, it's lingering rich notes, a rather uncommon trait.

If you're looking at something smaller that packs immensely huge flavor then the Black Garlic Soup ($19) will tickle your fancy. Watch in awe as a delicate bamboo charcoal powder tuile placed so placidly on top a dill bread becomes a beacon of hope as servers proceed to tilt a pitcher of savoury garlic perfumed chicken broth into the vessel. Earthy with a slight acidity contributed by white wine, this deceptively simple concoction will blow your minds.

A bed of vibrant pale verdant peeks out from under the stack of lobster, baby gem lettuce, red sorrel and oxalis leaves in the Half Lobster Salad ($38), so uncannily good and flecked with lemon. Excellent, a sweetened calamansi olive oil dressing punctuated with honey livens up the dynamic congregation. Wash this down with the Stick Chardonnay 2013 ($18), the accompanying impressions of grapefruit, white peach and hints of complex oaks in the background fortifyng the zestful mix.

The last appetisers to be put in the spotlight is the Papillotte Octopus and Clams ($30), essentially an incalculable load of the freshest catch cooked in its own juices with a umami-fied fish broth base providing initial boosters. Though, the tiger prawns, clams, octopus and sliced onions may snatch the limelight; admittedly, the real deal for me was the toasted dill bread crowned with a caramelised layer of gruyere cheese and then dipped conveniently into the divine juices gathered at the bottom of the pouch.

Mains continues in the same line of muted yet succinct success. Each one bringing to light, an innovative ingredient pairing that one wouldn't normally place as traditional. 

Take for example the Pan Seared Scallop with Sweet Corn ($38); wafts of the ocean derivant from the intelligent mound of kombu seaweed infused with slicks of truffle oil setting off the taste buds in a maniac hyperdrive. A ridiculously smooth Hokkaido corn puree, which I proposed has been sieved a thousand times for good measure is impressive on its own but even better when slathered on perfectly seared lobes of scallops. I rest my case and snuggled up to my glass of L.Giroud Meursault ler cru Boucheres ($38), perhaps the best tipple for the night, refreshing yet buttery at the same time; it's complexity somewhat mysterious.

Those looking to dive into the meat-centric choices would ravel in the Suckling Pig ($42), my undisputed champion dish of the night featuring a mighty cube of slow roasted pork belly braised in spices sitting on top more porcine delights, the slow braised shoulder forming a warm bed. "Slow-cooking" is done justice here with the flavors of spice, star anise, cinnamon, coriander amongst many infiltrating the protein holistically.  Other brilliant choices would be the Fillet of Wagyu Beef ($62) and the Lamb Chop with Moroccan Couscous & Mint Sauce ($46) - the latter, a structurally sound dish that would render you speechless, firstly with its stunning image of beautifully Frenched rack of lamb oven roasted and finished off in the pan, seasoned simply with sea salt and black pepper. The crux of the matter being the exotic steamed cous cous spread lavishly across the bottom of the plate, the extra crunch from sunflower and pumpkin seeds accented its perfectly fluffy nature. One word, exemplary.
Suckling Pig
Lamb Chop with Moroccan cous cous and mint sauce
Fillet of Wagyu Beef

Desserts are no where near an afterthought here at Verre as traditional French techniques studded with modern ideas are prevalent throughout. The Jasmine Tea Verrine ($16) plays punk and offers diners a slightly intriguing play on the conventional bistro dessert offering with its unlikely combination of jasmine tea granita, calamansi jelly and espuma with marmite crumble and milk sherbert. A Vanilla Cheesecake ($17) brought suble harmonies to another classic combination of baked cheesecake, cranberries, mixed berry compote and mint leaves; the rather strange but compelling banana passion fruit sorbet tying in the loose ends. Do not leave the joint without trying their Saint-Honore ($10) - the tired and somewhat drab French confectionery is revived here with these perfect mounds of choux pastry crowned with a crisp craquelin cap encasing sweet rushes of vanilla pastry cream. Wash it down with a Carnes de Rieussec Sauternes 2011 ($22), a classic rich honey spiked tipple of liquid gold with a spicy edge for the perfect night cap.

So, we all have to agree that the looming wine cellar, or rather, the elephant in the room may appear to forge ahead as the strongest link; however, dining there will reveal a treasure box of surprises. The tight menu, thoughtful, engaging, subtle and intimate; definitely worthy or revisits and special occasions.

Verre Modern Bistro and Wine Bar
8 Rodyk Street
t: 6509 1917

Operating Hours:
Mon - Thurs: 5pm - 12am
Fri: 5pm - 1am
Sat: 3pm - 1am

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