When our favourite sommelier tells us of a ‘must visit’ bar or restaurant, we have no choice but to rush to make a reservation. He’s never led us astray – behaviourly perhaps on occasion, but never have our taste buds been disappointed. So when he demanded that our next trip to Singapore sees an evening at Bar-A-Thym, with sweet talking chef Francois Mermilliod, we could not help but say yes (!).
|Bar-A-Thym, Casual French Restaurant, Singapore|
Located on the happening gourmet lovers’ strip of Gemmill Lane, Bar-A-Thym is one of the newest and hottest properties to flourish in this street. The glass walled entrance, fronted with stools and high tables, allows a preview inside of a long bar lining the space on one side and elegantly dressed dining tables on the other. Cheeky French flare is expressed on the walls with pastel-hued murals, a textured ceiling and mosaic floor. The glint of chandeliers and drop bulbs reflects off rows of glasses suspended above the bar. Immediately we feel at home with a little splash of quirkiness, a drop of fun and some fabulous aromas wafting from the kitchen.
|Bar-A-Thym Kitchen Team|
Chef Francois Mermilliod serves cuisine south of France in style. Fish and seafood procured sustainably and prepared on the flat plancha grill with distinctive Mediterranean flare dominate the menu. And as such, it makes sense that our first dish is fish.
The fine crunchy shell of the Bacalao Accras ($22) encloses a rich codfish filling. The Thai chef accompanying Francois in the kitchen adds a Thai Nahm Jhim dressing spicing up the traditional and leaving a mildly addictive tingle on the tip of our tongues.
The hostess suggests the 2014 Rose Provence Chateau Sainte Marguerite ($70 bottle, $12 glass) to pair with our starters. Its smooth fruity balance does well with a variety of foods, and its bright raspberry aromas are mirrored in the palate.
Iberico Pork Jowl ($22) arrives seductively shining on a bed of pea tendrils. Sweet cubes of pear chutney and flavourful hazelnut halves further contribute to the richness of the luscious sweet slices of cured and smoked pork cheeks. Wow.
Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops ($26), we’re told is a new creation that has proved incredibly popular. A delicate presentation for the eye is equaled with elegance in the mouth. Slim slices of okra and dill donate a burst of green, ground hazelnuts contribute earthiness, and caviar a salty taste of the sea. Covering the top is a frothy tomato emulsion that lightens the overall profile and sets this dish apart from other carpaccio we’ve recently dined on.
|Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops|
Continuing with the fruits of the sea, distinctive flame red slices of Alaskan King Crab ($29) rest atop a tangle of angel hair strands. The pasta has been cooked together with uni and espellete creating a smoothness that is sliced through by the French pepper. The heat though is only just enough to break the creamy sea urchin, and quickly retreats once its work is done.
|Alaskan King Crab|
In preparation for our main, we change to a 2010 Rhone Valley Domaine Soumade, Rasteau Village ($16 glass). It’s dark in the glass and rich in body with soft minerals in the finish. Reaching every crevice of the mouth, yet surprisingly soft, it makes an excellent pairing for our following meaty course.
We salivate as we inhale the delicious aromas of the roasted Welsh Lamb ($42). It smells so good we take a number of deep breaths just enjoying the scent before we carve in. Soft flesh quivers at the touch of our forks, and an array of mushrooms, potatoes and spinach supply a satisfying partner to the meat. I glance over at hubby’s plate and see he’s gnawed his meat to the bone. You can’t get a much better recommendation than that.
Bar-A-Thym’s pastry chef, Shameem Abdullah, has sent over two desserts looking almost too pretty to eat. A Raspberry Tart ($8) with a hint of pistachio mousseline and raspberry coulis, and the Esterhazy ($8) featuring hazelnut dacquoise, pralinè buttercream and caramelised hazelnuts. Both are petite mouthfuls of pleasure and a first-rate ending to a splendid evening.
Reasons to visit: warm friendly atmosphere – everyone here clearly loves what they do and they all adore chef Francois; don’t miss the Iberico Pork Jowl or Carpaccio of Hokkaido Scallops; be sure to save some room for some sweet treats too.
+65 6557 2224
Accessed by the Telok Ayer MRT or street and car park
Monday to Friday 12:00 – 15:00 and 18:00 – 22:30
Saturday 18:00 – 22:30