Bistrot du Sommelier was one of the few places on our to-try list that was actually open over the Chinese New Year holidays. Because we only called for a last minute reservation that very night, we only had a choice of an outdoor table at 7 pm, or indoors at 9 pm. Not wanting to eat so late, we opted for the outdoor table and prayed for good weather.
Note: The outdoor area is a makeshift open space, rather than specifically allocated al fresco seating. It’s not sheltered, nor lit for that matter, so once it gets dark you can barely see what you’re eating. As a result, I have no usable photos of anything after our starters. Granted, our experience was probably marred slightly by the unconventional outdoor seating, but we’ll try to be as objective as possible and just comment on the food.
They have a Rillette (and Charcuterie) Bar, which sells rillettes and cold cuts by weight. We had 100g each of a duck rillette, pork rillette and a sausage made with tongue, trotter and bacon. It was quite a substantial portion as it came on a platter with cornichons and bread.
I actually liked the pork rillette best. The duck was good but a bit predictable, whereas the pork rillette seemed to have a more interesting flavour. The cold sausage was pretty good too. Definitely coming back for more of these; they’re available for takeaway as well, though I’m not sure if takeaway portions come with all the bells and whistles.
Their pan-fried frog’s legs, fried with garlic and butter and some herbs, was also quite good. Maybe it helped that it was getting dark and I couldn’t really see the legs in all their glory (amphibian phobia), but the flavours were good and they were very well seared and still very tender.
M and W shared the Cote de Boeuf (900g), and A and I had the roast lamb saddle, also for 2. I wasn’t particularly impressed with the beef – as far as steaks go, this wasn’t really outstanding in any way. The meat wasn’t particularly flavourful, and any sear was all but drowned by sautéed onions and sauce.
In contrast though, the roast lamb saddle was excellent, and something we’ll definitely return for. The meat was very sweet, and very tender but not in a braised, fork-tender way. It was served with slow roasted garlic in the sauce, and some pretty good gratin potatoes.
The desserts garnered somewhat mixed reviews. The profiteroles with ice cream and chocolate sauce were pretty good, but I expected them to be spectacular because we heard rave reviews about them. I didn't like the apple soufflé with Calvados at all. I couldn't eat more than a few bites because I could still taste the egg white in the soufflé, which felt a bit ick. W felt the same but liked the apples sautéed in Calvados. A on the other hand didn't really like the apples but liked the egg white bit.
I think we’ll try to head back, this time for an indoor table to experience the place properly. I certainly want more of the rillette bar offerings, and wouldn’t mind having the lamb again.
Great rillete. Great lamb. Great profiteroles. The beef wasn't great for the price though. And sitting outdoors here is no fun as it's super dark. For our next visit, and yes, we'll definitely be back, we'll go indoors and stick to the stuff from the rillette bar.
Le Bistrot du Sommelier
53 Armenian Street
Mon to Sat: 12 noon - 2.30 pm; 6 pm - 11 pm