The thing about Bistrot du Sommelier is... how do I put it... is that if there were a French version of Tony Soprano and friends, they would eat here.
Or maybe the Singapore version osso can -- after all it was my Dad's friend An(thony) who first put this bistro on our radar screen, and my Dad is after all Godfather to 'Tony's youngest son.
No mincing about with stereotypically French too-petite portions on too-large plates here, trotted by too-snooty waitstaff into a too-hushed dining room punctuated only by the clinking of cutlery on plate (only because there's not enough food on the plate to mute the clinking, see).
Here, the waitstaff are immensely warm and helpful, the mood (at least at our table of 10 Soh-pranos and friends that night) raucuous, and the food -- on portion-size and taste alike -- the walloping kind that Tony Soprano and friends can dig into with gusto, so that after dinner they can dig with equal gusto the hole in the ground for their latest victim.
It's been a month since my first meal at Bistrot du Sommelier. And even though I've feasted on a gamut of Singaporean and Japanese delicacies since then, every now and again -- amid chili crab or sushi or okonomiyaki -- a taste-memory of this velvety molten Vacherin spiked with bacon and onion bits below kicks me in the head like a friendly neighbourhood loanshark reminder, leaving me in pain only because I don't when I'll get my next instalment.
Our other starters that night -- a platter of rillette, pate, onion chutney and cornichons -- were by no means runty either. Having slices of the house baguette underneath each little gob was a lovely canvas to hold all the fabulously rich flavours, rather than an eating-in-polite-company obligation.
That meant, however, that by the time my brother and I were up against our cote de beouf for 2, we were admittedly not at our fighting fittest. We slugged our way through the wall of perfect-medium-rare, taking no quarter with the divine caramelised onions and soft garlic bulbs. But we were sweating and breathless by the end, and I was forced to admit that I might have been better off with some beefy backup from my homies "Knife Skillz" Melf or "Hollow Legs" Jas.
Babs had his own battle that night. He now knows what it means to catch a tartar(e). The chunkiest one I've ever crossed paths with, at that.
Mum's usually the good Christian example in our family, but that night she ate the other (beef) cheek instead of turning it. Cute usage of a claypot, by the way.
Our mains finally done, we decided that the duck confit was he only dodgy dish of the evening. Quite a bit too much salt of the earth, unfortunately.
Finally, a couple of knuckle sanwiches -- fist-sized profiteroles, to send us rolling home.
It was one of those meals where you're not sure just whom went to work on whom. Let's call it an uneasy truce. Which of course calls for rematch. Or a Soh-prano encore.
Bistrot du Sommelier
44 Prinsep Street
+65 6333 1982