Babette: French meets Japanese in a Contemporary Hybrid

Even restaurant-clogged Singapore has its food deserts, neighorboods where dining destinations (Good ones I mean) are like finding a needle in a haystack. But as restaurateurs seek out less-expensive and less saturated areas, a few are coming to life. Take the swath of land straddling Lavender and Jalan Besar, after the move-in of coffee institution Chye Seng Huat, several other cafes have followed suite, Windowsill Pies, Tiramisu Hero and the Bravery for example want in on the piece of action. Yet, with that much talk generated about these wild children, Babette still remains under the radar. 

To quench my thirst after having traverse the neighborhood by foot, I ordered the Yuzu Beer ($14) a refreshing pint of beer that appeared to be tinted with a glorious bit of sunshine. As I worked through the pint slowly, every bit was as sweet and tangy as the last, a possible incentive to order this drink as there is no need to rush through it as you do with most beers.

The starter of Grilled Octopus Salad ($17) consists of Mediterranean octopus braised in Japanese sauce and served with fresh garden greens; while its vibrancy garners attention, it doesn't do much to charge the palate for the plates ahead. The piquant citrus dressing with orange segments not tantamount to the slightly chewy octopus that hadn't managed to pick up the sweetness of the braising liquids. 

Owner Darren Wee ( who also happens to be a Radio DJ on 98.7fm) explains that the menu at Babette is reflective of his personality and cravings at the moment. "Take for example the roasted avocado, I've been dreaming about it a whole lot and would want it to be incorporated in more future menu items.", even playfully accepting my challenge to do a chocolate avocado pairing for desserts! Here, the food transcends words or boundaries... so lend a hand to your imagination and enjoy the loud, raucous and seemingly bizarre array of dishes.

Somewhat similar to the Babette movie experience, the first few courses were sleep inducing. Charred Cauliflower ($8) with yuzu veloute attempts to dazzle with its rare presence as a starter on its own at the table but honestly could use a touch more seasoning.The buttered soup base had a bisque like quality to it but needed a little more acidity.

This was followed closely by the Roasted Avocado ($12) stuffed with Aburi Salmon and diced tomatoes. Each bite with all the elements on the fork mellows out to a sweet creamy briny finish from the salmon. 

Entrees continues without a hot streak of goodness, the Confit Salmon & Soba ($17) looking every bit as unappetizing with the confit salmon that appeared tampered with (not in a good way), the white edges and absence of healthy pink acting as red lights to the hopes of perfectly cooked fish. The soba noodles on the other hand were nicely seasoned with a light touch of dashi and Japanese herbs, that with the tamago served on the side were the saving grace of the dish.

Another instagram darling of the restaurant is the Steak and Foie Gras Donburi ($28), where deliciously salty marbled cut sirloin steak is paired with creamy foie gras and drizzed with the signature babette sauce. I liked the doneness of the steak, it's ruby red innards giving the impression that it was under-done, however, this is probably due to the sous vide technique which has resulted in an out-of-this-world succulent flesh with a nice crust developed from a quick sear in the pan. The one shortfall, was the foie gras which was cooked to the point that it was chalky and very unpalatable. 

Affordable entrees include the Duck Confit Donburi ($28) which features a generously portioned duck confit sitting atop a bed of sushi rice, flanked by homemade pickles. A good option for people looking to have French fare and yet still have their dependable form of carbohydrate, rice.

Seeing that plans for the remainder of the night were beginning to take shape, I rev-ed up the engines once more with Babette ($16), a refreshing sour mix of passionfruit, lemon , mint and gin. This simple concoction all comes together so unexpectedly and right that it's easy to work through one too many during your visit. So be warned.

Before concluding your meal at Babette, be sure to order the Matcha infused White Chocolate fondant ($12 ) , judicious with sugar and complimented by the bitter grassy notes of Japanese Matcha powder, the lava cake is sure to steal the limelight and is best eaten with vanilla ice cream with premium azuki beans on the side. Simply sublime.

Babette's cuisine may adopt a mild sense of weirdness, however, with direction and leadership from owner, Darren, this destination cashes in on a whole unique attitude of a disregard for food trends, which has proven useful in setting it apart from other diners in the area. Definitely a place worth checking out (especially so for the lava cake.)

165 Tyrwhitte Road, #01-03 Parc Sovereign Hotel
S( 207569)
t: 6241 7727

Opening Hours:
Daily 11am - 11pm

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