Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Wolfing Down By the River

Brasserie Wolf
The Pier @ Robertson
80 Mohamed Sultan Road
Singapore 239013
Tel: 68357818
Our last experience in a brasserie was in Le Nord (accredited with the legendary Master Chef Paul Bocuse) in the French city of Lyon during the month of January this year which left us with a better impression than the ones we have been to in Paris. Back home, we have heard rave reviews of a new and happening place by the river called Brasserie Wolf, which is the latest baby of the Esmirada Group. N and I decided that this would be the place to take our close friend Karen for her birthday treat since she also loves checking out new places.
While the restaurant looks new and modern from the outside, its interior is decorated with Parisian art pieces with historical ancedotes, giving it a retro feel back to the 1800s. Service staffs are decked in modern garb instead of the traditional brasserie uniforms which pulls us back to reality of the present day.
The beverage menu is dominated by regional French wines, with snippets of Spanish, Italian and New World bottles for variety sake. Traditional French fare designed by Chef Philippe Nouzillat, makes up most of the food menu with specialties from regional areas.

Each of us had our own starter with extra orders of the escargots and mussels to be shared around. There was a Duck Foie Gras with Caramelized Apples and Aged Balsamic Vinegar which made N and Karen went goo goo gaga over it. A generous piece of liver was served with slightly tart caramelized green apples which would make gourmets impressed but a cholesterol nightmare for health freaks. On the palate, the acidity from the apples and vinegar helps to cut through the richness of the foie gras. The charred corners of the duck liver released notes of burnt buttery fragrance and it was also very well complimented with the Chablis in the glasses.

N enjoyed a creamy Prawn Cocktail with Avocado where chunks of prawn meat are tossed up with diced avocados in a piquant mayonnaise based cocktail sauce. It is served filled in a half avocado shell on a bed of mesclun mix with a large prawn sitting atop as a crown to the salad. K’s hubby took on the Frisee Salad with Bacon and Poached Egg, also commonly known as Lyonaise Salad. In between the bitter greens and tangy vinaigrette, the bacon chunks and warm poached egg with oozing yolk were nice alternatives between bites and crispy croutons instilled the fun element of crunch to the salad.
The Charcuterie Platter was my choice with a smorgasbord of Proscuito, Salami, Air Dried Beef and a piece of Pate Campagne. Among the selections, the salami and Proscuito were really good while the air dried beef looked tired. The pate was a little too dry for my taste and bland.
Passing around the table were two soups, a Lobster Bisque with dices of lobster instead of crabmeat as stated and a classic French Onion Soup with Comte Cheese Crouton. Nonetheless, the lobster soup was full of shellfish flavour although the colour was a little pale compared to most other bisques that I have come across with. I prefer the more macho bodied French Onion Soup with the gratin of Comte Cheese, one of my favourite French cheeses. The cheese has a nice nutty fragrance when eaten on its own, melted down, it gives a mild sharp pungency with creamy buttery notes of fragrance and roasted hazelnut notes.
The escargots and mussels got in at the same time, the “moules” steamy hot from their bath in a fruity white wine broth enriched with olive oil, garlic and parsley. Dunking pieces of bread into the delicious broth to soak up the mussel juices, it soon got everyone hooked on it in no time. Frites or French fries made from fresh potatoes where also offered but nobody seemed to pay attention to it as we were all was busy with the bread and broth.
I like the escargots here better than the ones in Le Nord. Though they were smaller than the ones we had in Lyon, the butter-garlic-parsley sauce was more aromatic than the last round.
Most of the mains came in hearty portions. There was a veal chop, a duck leg confit, a filet of black cod, a fine cut of sirloin, a crisp up braised pork trotter and a roasted spatchcock. Veal chop was a little overcooked but was saved by the fact that we had requested medium done. It would be a culinary injustice to over do the veal chop but at medium well, it was still manageable. The wild mushroom sauce was fine but I felt that it lacked a little oomph of a forest character which would have called for hints of porcini or morel flavours. Duck leg confit came on beautifully crisp without excessive greasiness on braised potatoes. Either the kitchen had forgotten about the sauce or it was supposedly to be so good that it didn't need one. Indeed it was, not too salty and fork tender that it was like eating a duck version of “Sio Bak” or Cantonese Roast Pork. The side salad also helped the duck confit to cut through the fattiness giving it a delicate balance of rich complexity and yet tangy.
The only seafood main course on the table, my black cod was served with a sauté of artichokes and tomato confit which seemed more like sun dried tomatoes in oil. Anyway they were too sour for my liking while the artichokes were fine. The fish was very well done, nice and moist flakes with sweetness. A sauce of lobster foam which tasted like the froth up lobster bisque earlier enhanced the “seafood” character of the dish with creamy shellfish notes.
Pied de Cochon or Crispy Braised Pork Trotters was a reconstituted cake of de-boned trotter meat pan fried in its own fat till crispy, served on a bed of sautéed potatoes and mushrooms. The meat was very tender, just like pulled pork in US, literally melting in mouth with rich gelatinous notes on the mouth feel.
The cock and bull were meant for Karen’s two boys and we, the adults managed to steal a bite from their plates given the generous portions when the boys where busy with their Game Boys. The Roasted Spatchcock had notes of rosemary and was lifted by pungent raw garlic infused mayonnaise. The meat was quite juicy and at times I felt that the mayonnaise was not necessary, better to have it with the French fries instead. A 250g sirloin cooked perfectly medium was too much for an 11yr old boy and certainly I wouldn't mind sharing a piece or two. The beef was cooked to a lovely pinkish red hue which would have caused saliva dripping if one had been starving. Béarnaise, a warm fresh tarragon and butter flavoured mayonnaise like sauce long forgotten on the menus here in Singapore gave the steak a sinfully rich kiss of indulgence.
Overall I felt the tastes of the dishes were fine and aesthetics on presentation with a touch of finesse. The menu prices, comparable with Reif + James, which is just a couple of units away within the same property, did not justify with the style of presentation. Of course the quality of ingredients was undeniably good and that still matters most to me.

Desserts? We adjourned to Macaron by Les Amis.

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