3 French Bistros in Singapore
After a year of celebrity chef restaurant openings, fine dining in Singapore is taking a back seat to the new French bistros. Here’s where to go for casual Parisian fare in the Lion City. By Evelyn Chen
Walk past Brasserie Gavroche’s antique swing doors, past the hall, into a high-ceilinged space framed by gilt wall-hung mirrors, leather banquette seats and antique furniture. Here, Paris-born chef Frédéric Colin, former executive chef of the St. Regis Singapore, has distilled an enormous glass-encased menu teeming with brasserie classics such as tartine d’os a moelle; garlic confit and bone marrow sitting atop toasted bread with a generous spread of parsley puree; and tartare de bœuf Angus, hand-cut Angus beef with French fries. T+L Tip Ask for grand père Henri’s signature dishes. The chef’s early years were influenced by his grandfather’s Parisian restaurant and, naturally, the latter’s shadow can be prominently felt in dishes, including the rarely seen fish quenelle, grated pike fish baked in dough and served in a crayfish bisque. 66 Tras St.; +65 6225 8266; brasseriegavroche.com.
Located on the cobblestone-paved Duxton Hill, this Parisian-inspired steak-frites joint, by millionaire-turned-restaurateur Oliver Bendel, is as close as you can get to the Parisian Relais de Venise experience in Singapore. Like the Paris institution, L’entrecote is heaving with hungry diners and tables in this unembellished restaurant are cramped so tightly together that it’s impossible not to tune-in to your neighbors’ conversations. Nor are you afforded a choice of main course—in this case, two slices of entrecote with salad in vinaigrette and free flow of fries, though of course you can pick how you like your steak done. On the other hand, there are plenty of choices among the classic bistro starters and desserts. Don’t miss the dish of escargots de Bourgogne in an addictive parsley accented garlic butter sauce and the hearty serving of tarte tatin. T+L Tip Given the no reservations policy at L’entrecote, come early. 36 Duxton Hill.; +65 6238 5700; lentrecote.sg.
La Maison Fatien
Nestled in a four-story pre-war conservation shop house along Duxton Road, La Maison Fatien has its roots in Beaune, Burgundy, where the Fatien family runs a bed-and-breakfast called Chez les Fatien, alongside a wine-merchandising business under Maison Fatien Père & Fils. Fittingly, the Singapore outpost also plays the part with rough-cut brick walls adorned with French-inspired posters. The Fatiens have crafted a tight yet perfectly executed menu of all-time French bistro standards: think pan-seared duck liver with caramelized apple, confit de canard and a daily cocotte special that, during our visit, featured a heart-warming braised lamb shank with French beans and roasted new potatoes on the side. With starters priced below S$18 and mains capped at S$28, this could well be one of Singapore’s best value-for-money bistros. T+L Tip Maison Fatien Père & Fils produces only 15,000 bottles of wines annually, a small fraction of which are exported to Singapore. Don’t miss their house Bourgogne pinot noir, a hot favorite among local diners. 76 Duxton Rd.; +65 6220 3822; lamaisonfatien.com.