Bistro Du Parc
Sometimes, I'm a bit partial, which really isn't acceptable as a reviewer of any kind. I am not partial because of the "right" owner - sycophants are up there with murderers. I have burnt many bridges with the fire still hot on my buttocks because my over-the-top responsibility towards being honest! But every now and then there will be a restaurant I just want to like - I haven't quite cracked why but it has something to do with a combination of: passionate owners/chefs - but an informed passion. Not those nerve pinching, deluded fools, running around opening restaurants like its going to be a holiday in Vegas. Of course the food has to show some promise, some direction, that demonstrates the attention and thought put in to it - even if it isn't all quite there just yet. The ambience - which isn't always about the interiors and decor - a very plain looking place can ooze the right ambience just with the mood the owners create.
Which brings me to Bistro Du Parc, one of those places, I seem to have set my heart on, despite its evident flaws. Opened by Naina de Bois-Juzan in collaboration with Olive.
Here's the low down. The place - charming, bistro style dining. The terrace on top has seating too - however I would urge you to consider the heat and humidity when reserving.
Minus our server Steven who is probably one of the best servers in town, the service was a bit of a sham. The other servers we interacted with weren't very informed about the menu at all. On one occasion I asked a server the particulars of a certain dish, his reply was a blank stare, followed by him trotting off. I suppose he didn't deem us fit for a reply. But the real icing on the cake was our wait between our starters and mains - a whopping 50 minutes! The second time the delivery was fairly prompt, but it may have something to do with the fact that we were the only two people, there at the time. For friends of mine had an equally tiresome wait as well, between starters and mains on another occasion.
Before I go in to the details, here's the summation. The starters and salads were all quite lovely, as was our dessert, but I am still trying to figure out if that makes up for the bleak mains. I wonder why such a disparity exists in restaurants between courses. I have had a similar experience with Rara Avis each time, where I have thoroughly enjoyed my starters and salads and had been rather bummed out with my mains.
The Good :
- Celadon Salad - A ménage vert of zucchini, green apple, green grapes, pistachio, peas in a mint oil. I ordered this on both visits, I loved the pairing of all these ingredients. However, the pistachios I found a bit stale. The first time around not only was the presentation clumsy but the portion felt meek. The second time around I had no reason to complain (below). I don't mind variation in plating, as long as the portions don't vary, and the aesthetics are kept in tact, which hasn't been the case. And I apologise from this point forward about the pictures, but continue reading and berate me later.
- Calamari - Panfried squid with black olives, cherry tomatoes, baby potatoes and roasted and sliced garlic with a red pepper coulis. This is probably my favourite dish and quite honestly a big reason for my return. Every bite of this dish took me that much closer to the beautiful Mediterranean. And it gave permission for some greedy bread dunking at the end!
- Pate - If there is pate on the menu you can guarantee it will be on my table. And I am glad it was. Creamy, smooth, meaty - well balanced with the tangy sweet balsamic. Though we definitely needed more bread to spread all that pate loving!
- Pork Rillette - Pork paradise. Though I did feel those arteries clogging with every bite, I promised myself to I would think about it as soon as I finished the last bite.
- Chicken - Pan seared chicken. To be quite honest, after the hour long wait for our mostly insipid mains, I stopped caring. But I do remember that this one chicken dish, that ironically, I didn't even want to order in the first place, was the best of the mains. Thin, crisp fillets - I believe they used boneless chicken thigh fillets - from the juicy burst, that could have only come from little pockets of fat. It was simple, but well seasoned, cooked perfectly and tasted as good as a fillet of chicken could. Sadly, I didn't see it on the menu again.
- Panna Cotta - There's two types of good dishes, one you eat, enjoy and forget about two days later. And then there's that good where you eat, enjoy, and want to go eat it again two days later. Dishes that become part of the identity of a restaurant. For me this panna cotta, the calamari starter and the not-yet-perfected-but-I-still-have-faith-in pain perdu are those signature dishes that I would go back for. This is my round-about way of saying this is one bloody good panna cotta!
- Savoury Pain Perdu aka French Toast - Despite it being borderline burnt, and the lemon sauce being too runny and scant, (and hence the dish felt a bit dry) - overall this dish does hold promise. Though I would also skip the baby corn and add some sun dried tomatoes or juicy roasted tomatoes and olives. I had this on my first visit, so I am going to excuse it as a work in progress and try it again soon.
- Braised Beef Cheek - cooked in Red Wine. I had a couple of bites from my friend who ordered it. Quite nice actually, but the heavy red wine flavours don't seem to be doing it for me lately.
- Cauliflower Risotto - I'm a big fan of carb laden dishes going carb-free. A great example of such a dish would be Chef Alex's zucchini spaghetti at The Table. A really bad example would be the cauliflower risotto at Bistro Du Parc. In fact, upon ordering the dish I got several eye rolls from my table. I couldn't wait for the dish to arrive and shut them all up, and of course once again declare my credibility in all things food! Oh boy did that backfire. Firstly, the dish was really quite unsubstantial as a main - just because cauliflower has replaced arborio does not mean it fills you up in the same way - so pump up that portion because that tumbleweed of herbs on top isn't filling anyone up. Nor did it do much in terms of flavour.. or my credibility!
- Lamb Leg - I forgot what exactly this dish was but it isn't my fault, it really was that unmemorable. Whether, the meat was even seasoned, was questionable. All I can give this otherwise insipid dish, is it was cooked to a perfect medium.
- Pan Fried Sea Sole - Though this was at least palatable, compared to the lamb, it still had a case of the blahs. If I am going to go eat out, I should want to welcome every bite. That most certainly wasn't the case, as I counted every bite till I felt a little full and I could finally rest my fork. The soggy skin on the fish didn't help either.
- Snapper - Special - So there is a monthly menu and then daily or weekly specials on another board. This was one of the specials and which had nothing special about it. I could have torn my lip if it made me yawn a little louder. But what was truly bizarre, were the accompanying potatoes. Thin sliced, almost gratin like potatoes, that had the most unwarranted flavours of fish and drain water. Some might add, well the potatoes would rightfully taste of fish if the sat under a big fillet of fish! BUT answer me this - why did the fish not taste fishy (ignore that part -it shouldn't - and Im glad it didn't) and the potatoes tasted fishier than any fish out there? It was nauseating.
- Bread Basket - Last on this page but first on our table. I am sure the rustic sourdough tasted great one week ago. Attention to detail - no stale bread s'il vous plait.
I do plan on returning in a while. Hopefully by then they would have tightened the reins in that kitchen ... because I really do want to love them.. from starter to finish, but there is that "main" issue.
Budget - Moderate
Outdoors - Yes
Alcohol - Beer & Wine
57, 58, 59, Moolchand Market, Across the park from Flavours