We celebrated my 25th (hang on, was I 25 last year? Anyway, my 25th…) birthday with dinner with the gang at the new Au Petit Salut in the ever-so-hip Dempsey Road area. Occupying the large colonial bungalow where the Junior Flying Club and then the short-lived Highwood deli used to be, this Harding Road outlet is now the restaurant’s main branch. They are apparently retaining their premises at Chip Bee Gardens and convering it to a more casual bistro outlet. Sounds interesting – we may check it out one of these days.
The new premises looks like it can seat considerably more customers than the Holland one. There’s indoor as well as outdoor (still covered, though) seating, and a few rooms for private dining as well. S made the reservation at fairly short notice (Thanks, S!), so there was only outdoor seating available, but fortunately it had rained almost all of Saturday, so by the evening, it was nice and cool and very pleasant. Parking is also much more convenient than at Chip Bee – there’s quite a big carpark just for the restaurant just outside the building.
The menu was surprisingly quite accessible – surprising because I always expect French food to be quite intimidating. The menu here was very comprehensive, to the point of being a tad excessive (do they really need five different steak options on the menu?), and there were loads of options that I would’ve liked to order.
After all of us dithered for a considerable amount of time, we decided against the $85 set menu and ordered a la carte. For starters I had the handcut pasta with braised lamb cubes, tomato sauce and parmesan shavings. This tasted a little ordinary at first bite, but after a while it really grew on me The pasta was a little too al dente but the lamb was exquisitely tender and the tomato sauce was just right – not too sour and overpowering.
A’s starter was the mini cheese raviolis and wild mushrooms in a red wine reduction. This was served in a little casserole and was very rich and creamy, and packed a serious flavour punch. I think his starter was probably better than mine. I also shared a lobster bisque with Y, and while it was admittedly a little gelak, I couldn’t stop lapping up every drop. The lobster flavour was really intense and it wasn’t too thick and creamy.
For some reason I was feeling rather adventurous, so instead of ordering one of the usual suspects like a steak, lamb or duck, I decided to go with the oven-roasted quail stuffed with foie gras and wild mushrooms. I’m glad I did – this was really quite amazing. It wasn’t at all gamey; instead, it was tender and very flavourful, and the accompanying mashed potatoes were very fine and creamy.
A had the more traditional rack of lamb, done medium which looked just about right, maybe even verging on a little too pink. I had a mouthful and it tasted pretty good, but unlike my quail, it wasn’t particularly outstanding.
Most of us passed on dessert because we were pretty full, and there was a cake waiting for us at S’s place (Note: Coffee Bean’s Chocolate Truffle Cake is not particularly good). A couldn’t resist one of the desserts that pretty much called out to him - Frozen cappuccino with coffee ice cream, chocolate sorbet, grilled hazelnuts and whipped cream. There was a lot of whipped cream, but it was really good.
All in all, I was very pleasantly surprised with the food as well as the ambience and service, which didn’t seem as chi-chi and poncey as it was at Chip Bee. The only downside is that although it doesn’t feel particularly formal, because the surroundings are now quite grand, I think it’s unlikely that A and I will come back on our own, just the two of us, for a simple Friday or Saturday night dinner. This now seems more of a special event kinda place. We’ll explore the bistro at Chip Bee and see how that goes.
PS: Comments and guest posts from the rest of the gang on the food that they ordered are more than welcome! *HINT*
Much better than I thought it would be. Service was good and sitting outside made it a lot less formal. I think I’d rather sit inside next time though as I kept being bothered by small bugs through the night.
Food-wise, I think the starters (and there are a lot to choose from) are probably better than the mains. The French Onion Soup I shared with J was a bit of a letdown but the mini cheese ravioli was really good. And of course, the Frozen Cappuccino RAWKED!
Au Petit Salut
40C Harding Road
Monday – Friday Lunch : 1130am – 230pm (Last Order)
Saturday Lunch: 1230pm – 230pm (Last Order)
Monday – Saturday Dinner : 630pm – 1030pm (Last Order)
Closed on Sundays