Saturday, November 8, 2008

Au Petit Salut - Set Lunch

Au Petit Salut is a chain of two French restaurants, one located at Holland Village and one at Harding Road (Dempsey Road). They have also a 'private dining' restaurant on top of the Harding Road branch for a private dining experience facing the Chef.
My lunch was at the Harding Road branch, which has a relaxed and bright 'al fresco' atmosphere. There is also an indoor dining area, with wide glass windows looking onto the surrounding patio.
There are two lunch menus, one 'executive' menu priced at $58++, and a regular menu priced at $30, which is the one we chose. The menu includes a starter, main, dessert and coffee or tea. Ice water is offered at the end of the meal.

I started with a 'Homemade duck rillette with mesclun salad and walnut dressing', which tasted like tuna-like textured flaky lean meat. Slightly on the salty side, but that's how it's supposed to be.

The 'Quail salad with Romaine lettuce, yogurt and cucumber dressing, croutons' consisted in a lightly seasoned and tender half quail laid on top of a typical Caesar-like salad. The quail was simple but nice, while the salad was a bit boring.

My main was a 'Braised beef cheeks Hungarian “Goulash-style’’, polenta and carrots'. I found this polenta style very interesting and gnummy. It is rather different from the traditional Italian style I am used to. In comparison, this is creamier and fluffier, probably smoothened by some dairy ingredients. The beef cheek was quite lean and tender with a clear and rich flavour enhanced by its red wine sauce.

The other main was a 'Oven baked sea bass fillet with fresh mixed vegetables, light herb butter emulsion'. The sea bass was superbly cooked, with a crispy surface sealing the subtle flavour of its juicy and firm meat. The foamy butter emulsion added that extra richness to the dish, while the bed of carrots and fennel slightly lacked of a distinguished flavour.

The 'Crème Brulée infused with fresh Madagascar vanilla beans ' is a classic French dessert, served in a very classic version. It was well prepared, with a visible quantity of flavoursome vanilla beans and a thin and crispy surface. The smooth flavour had quite a distinct bitter aftertaste, probably due to the caramelised surface.

I was very excited about this dessert. The '“Mont-Blanc” vanilla ice cream, chestnut purée and meringue' was absolutely phenomenal. I must warn you that this dessert is not very sweet, so in order to appreciate it, you must be someone who likes mildly sweetened desserts. I had Mont-Blanc before, and it was always extremely sweet and heavy. The intriguing thing about this version is that it's not purely a mountain of chestnut puree'. They have filled it with ice cream and topped it with whipped cream and chestnuts crumble, and more chestnuts and meringue chunks at the bottom, creating a well balanced harmony of textures.

If you like 'home style' French cuisine rather than 'Nouvelle Cuisine', Au Petit Salut is the place for you. Even if the lunch menu isn't breathtaking , it is certainly a quality meal that's excellent value for money. The bill came to a total of $70 for 2 people, including a bottle of water and charges. Au Petit Salut provides a relaxed ambiance in a superbly quiet and natural setting, accompanied by very friendly and attentive service and classic, simple and well prepared food.

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