Monday, 4 June 2012

DINE@LXG: Taratata Bistrot

In France, there is a saying from the old country; a word they use to sum up all the good things in life – happiness, contentment and good spirits. They call it 'Taratata', and today you can even experience its feel-good factor in Singapore.

Under the management of Chefs Philippe Nouzaillat and Bertrand Raguin, this self-styled French Bistrot opened its doors in early 2011, in Chinatown. 

From the moment you step foot into this little side-street incarnation of Paris, it’s not long before those feel-good vibes begin to take effect – the effervescent Restaurant Manager welcomes you like an old friend, and her small team of waiters quickly settle you down at one of the tables or cosy booth seats.

Taratata’s warm ambience can be almost entirely attributed to the partnership of its two Owner-Chefs. Although both Chef Philippe and Chef Bertrand both have over twenty years experience in the business apiece, and have both been Executive Chefs for some well-known Michelin-star restaurants across Europe and Asia, they created the Taratata concept with comfort and relaxation as two of the main elements. However, the most important driving force behind the venture is their friendship.

But two Executive Chefs sharing one kitchen? Surely impossible in a world so well-known for its big personalities and even bigger egos?

‘There is no room for Ego in our place,’ chuckles Chef Bertrand, ‘Philippe and I work together very well. We develop the menus together, and you won’t ever hear shouting or screaming or plates breaking in the kitchen – in fact we’re usually laughing and cracking jokes!’

In France, "to go to the bistrot" means to have a few drinks with friends in pleasant surroundings. It’s no wonder then that the Chefs also chose to christen their establishment “Taratata”.

According to Chef Philippe it is quite common to have two chefs sharing a kitchen back in France. ‘There are only four of us working the kitchen, so we are often multi-tasking and doubling up – but it works well. Our aim is to introduce good, wholesome French cuisine to Singapore, and for customers to enjoy it in an atmosphere where they can relax, take their time and unwind.’  

Explains Chef Bertrand, ‘There are already French fine dining restaurants in Singapore – and of course in these places you must dress a certain way; it’s very formal and dishes must be eaten in the correct way and in the correct order. In a Bistrot, it’s far more relaxed, and I think busy Singaporeans need that little time to escape and have a good meal, especially during weekday lunchtimes.’

With the goal of introducing traditional country fare to their customers, the Chefs have included some real specialities in their menu. Highlights offered as main course include a wonderfully meaty and herb-infused Toulouse Sausage, (inspired by a country recipe direct from a butcher in Toulouse!), and a generously thick Cod Fillet delicately sautéed and drizzled with butter sauce.

And of course, their desserts alone are worth the visit. The Warm Chocolate Cake is a delicious study in contrasting textures and temperatures – and the accompanying homemade Lavender Ice Cream, as unlikely as it may sound, is exceptional. The taste and scent of lavender is subtle, but totally transforms the flavour of the ice cream. It’s a delicate balancing act to get just the right amount of Lavender in the recipe. ‘We’ve tried and tested this over the years. If you put too much Lavender, then it won’t work; it’ll taste more like soap!’

Taratata’s menu is accompanied by a comprehensive wine list, made up of select French vintages. The restaurant is open every day apart from Mondays for lunch and dinner, and you’ll invariably find the two chefs popping out of their kitchen to meet and greet their customers.  These friends are definitely ensuring that it’s not just ‘Taratata’ by name, but ‘Taratata’ by nature...

Taratata, 35A Keong Saik Road (6221 4506). 
Lunch: 11:30am - 2:30pm
Dinner: 5:30pm - 11pm