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Saturday, 11 June 2016

Weekend Brunch at Cocotte French Restaurant @ The Wanderlust Hotel

2 Dickson Road, Ground Level, Wanderlust Hotel, Singapore 209494
Tel: 6298 1188

"A fresh breath of old France" is the motto of this unpretentious, comfortable and hearty French restaurant located at the exquisite boutique Wanderlust Hotel, in Little India area. Cocotte Restaurant encourages interaction as dishes of piping hot homemade French dishes are passed around the tables between family and friends.

I did exactly that with a group of friends, as we visited one Saturday for brunch. It was an ala carte buffet concept, The Weekend Brunch Trolley, priced at SGD$69.00 per person. Food was of good quality and well-portioned, the price paid was very worth it - by the time we finished with the appetizers, we kind of forgot there were still mains and desserts on the way! Yes, it was that filling!

The interior decor was rural France, rustic and simplistic - touches of culture blended smoothly with modernity such as bar counter and adorable Smeg fridge (okay, this is a retro-concept fridge), and being here felt like we were being transported back into olden days France, in the serene countryside instead of right smack in the middle of a cultural tourists' spot.

Service of the crew was efficient, professional and patient. They were also very knowledgeable and understanding, as we stopped them for photos while they wheeled trays of food over and kept asking them for the name and explanation of each dish.

We began with some Marinated Olives - juicy, tart
and soft. Being an olives lover, I got to polish of most of these delicious appetite-whetters.

Mushroom and Bacon Quiche gave us a headstart on our sumptuous brunch - a huge, tart-like quiche cut into slices, filled with the earthly, robust flavors of shitake mushroom, bacon and onions. The crust was buttery and crumbly, kind of delicious to eat on its own.

Next, Pear & Bleu D'auvergne Salad - (SGD$16.00 if ordered as ala carte item) -  also known as Pear and Blue Cheese Salad simply, tossing in crunchy lettuce, hazelnuts, carrot strips, radish, sweet pear and blue cheese. I enjoyed the salad mostly, but still had not come to terms with the heavier, pungent taste of blue cheese.

Ham and Brie Sandwich with Cherry Jam was up next - crusty baguette flanking thick, succulent slices of ham within. The unique cherry jam brought about a beautiful tinge of tart to the sandwich, obliterating the gentler, milder brie flavor - still a lovely blend of sweet-savory sandwich to have.

Then it was 2 types of Egg Ramekins (small dished items) for us. The Scrambled Eggs with Corned Veal Tongue and Button Mushrooms - not a fan of scrambled eggs because of its runny texture, but I did enjoy it splattered sweetly around the umami corned veal tongue - meaty, flavorful - making this dish very lovely. I should've taken another one.

In comparison, the White Beans with Tomato Bacon and Sous Vide Eggs was less impressive - wobbly eggs with baked beans in tomato sauce - very homemade indeed, if I may describe it so.

Moving on to mains, we had Pan-seared Sea Bass with Salsa - firm flakey white flesh topped by thin layer of crispy skin. The salsa and dill garnishing and gravy lent aroma to the faint sweetness of the fish - I believe I had 2 pieces of this.

Next, Fried Honeycomb Tripe with Pickles and Wholegrain Mustard (SGD$16.00 if ordered ala carte) - simply known as beef stomach - was a delicacy in itself. One of the more memorable dishes here for me. Breaded and dusted with smoked paprika, this dish engaged all the senses, from the pleasant crackling of the exterior to the gentle chewy-ness of the meat, encompassing elements of smokiness, spice and savoury all in one. More, please.

Live Blue Mussels and Clams Steamed in White Wine, Swiss Chard and Fennel Cream, served with freshly-baked, crispy sourdough bread, was another excellent dish that we enjoyed.  The shellfish were rather small in size, but fleshy, saccharine and springy in taste and texture. Needless to say, the infusion of flavorful cream broth heightened the taste, and we also enjoyed sipping it on its own / dipping our bread into it. This dish was polished off beautifully.

Pot-roast Pork Collar with Pumpkin Puree was quite remarkable, with slices of succulent, melty pork, and I basked in its fragrant, pot-roasted taste. However, the piercing sweetness of the pumpkin puree seemed to be a rather mismatched contrast.

Roast Chicken with Couscous did not fare that well - while the chicken pieces were a little tough, the couscous was dry and grainy. Usually a lover of couscous' soft, fine texture, this was a little hard to swallow and not easy to enjoy. Maybe I should've doused some of the delicious mussels broth over it.

Following that, it was Oyster Blade Roast Beef with Kale and Roast Pumpkin (on the side) comprises moistened, succulent slices of smokey beef that were very pleasing to the palate. I appreciated the usage of kale - my favorite, crunchy, superfood vegetable in this creation, adding a fabulous balance to the meal. This dish scored high points too.

Just as we thought that the stomach could rest, the sweet treats came on, and we were excited once more.  We started with the Moelleux Au Chocolat aka Molten / Lava Chocolate Cake - moist and soft with the subtle hints of bittersweet chocolatey taste.

Tarte Aux Pommes À La Frangipane aka Apple Tart with Frangipane (filling of almonds) had a crusty exterior and a moist, smooth interior hinting of caramelised apple flavour; loved the added crunch of the almond flakes.

Next, Homemade Basil Ice-cream, a heady, exotic flavor redolent of basil's somewhat grassy, herbal taste. I loved it for its unique flavor, creamy texture and cooling touch.

Moving on, Pistachio Crème Brûlée had a sweet, crispy thin layer of caramelised coating atop creamy pistachio custard - devoid of the sharp, nutty sweetness of pistachio. I couldn't put my finger to what the flavor tasted like, but it definitely wasn't our favorite cup of dessert here.

Finally, the Banana Walnut Cake with Salted Caramel and Chantilly was rather lovely - a dessert with a burst of flavors, encompassing the soft fragrance of banana and nutty sweetness of walnut in moistened cake cubes, creamy mounds of chantilly cream and moistened cubes of cake together with savory touch of the salted caramel.

Verdict? We were full, satisfied and very happy with the brunch trolley. I mean, where else could one enjoy an assortment of different French dishes in charming settings as such, have the food wheeled to you, could ask for helpings, and be enriched with excellent knowledge on the food of choice?  I would definitely like to come back, but not after I have tried the French Brunch Buffet at Saveur, just for comparison's sake.

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