Singapore may be small, but we are inundated with choice when it comes to eating out. Sometimes, this can lead to the first-world problem of CHOICE(!) ANXIETY(!!) If, like us, this leads you to becoming a sad creature of habit who keeps eating at the same old places, check out our bite-sized JUNK food reviews for what you should be eating next.
Taratata Brasserie (formerly Taratata Bistrot, don’t ask us what’s the difference) is one of those joints that has always been there, and at the back of our heads for a very long time. We visited on a busy Friday evening and they happened to have a table open. Upon being seated, we enquired how long they’ve been at Keong Siak: “9 years.” 9 years? That is truly a testament, as most F&B joints on this street come and go on lease cycles.
After settling into a comfortable booth, we scanned the menu for a mix of dishes that would read as “varied” and “sophisticated” – which meant ordering a salad, otherwise we would have just ordered brown-coloured food.
We had : French Onion Soup, Country Pate, the Baby Romaine Mesclun Salad, a Saint – Marcellin Cheese Pie, and a Cote de Boeuf to share.
The dishes with green bits arrived first.
The appetisers felt like a mixed bag, to be honest; the Pate was satisfyingly coarse and crumbly as how it should be, but apart from the gentlest hint of liver and brandy, it seems to lack any other distinct flavour. The salad was quite the opposite, the fresh leaves being heavily dressed with a punchy, quite sour basil vinaigrette that dominated everything on the plate; a quiet start to the meal, but there was a sense that the food served lacked a self-conscious slickness in the name of a more personal expression of the chef.
Still, we reserved judgement: we were slightly intoxicated by that point of the evening, and we needed to calm our senses… and the dishes that arrived next precisely did the trick. The soup was as hearty and gratifying as French Onion Soup should be; there were no gimmicks to this soup, it was just very correct, warming, French Onion soup.
The baked cheese was a delicious sidekick, even if it did seem a bit small. Who cares – there was endless pleasure in breaking the puff pastry into the dish of molten Saint Marcellin (a cheese that is not far off a brie). It stayed on the right side of liquidy hot throughout, and you really could have this for dessert, actually. Maybe two of them?
The steak was a grand way to close the meal. Taratata does the meat justice – an aged bone in rib-eye with a good funk – seared and roasted, and arriving at the table with the heady aroma of seared fat and bearing nibbly burnt edges that can only be done with the heat of a proper oven. The bechamel and black pepper sauces again displayed the chef’s personal style; in particular, the black pepper sauce was shot through with an overly generous splash of brandy – luxurious, but it may not be to everyone’s taste. The shoestring fries that came with, on the other hand, were undoubtedly a subtle accomplishment. Deep brown and crispy to the point where they are just shy of being burnt and actually tasting of something; these are not lifeless McDonald’s fries. Delish.