Bistro a Table offers more than just familiar standards
Bistro A Table,
6, Jalan 17/54, Petaling Jaya,
Tel: 03-7931 2831
Business hours: 6.30 to 10.30pm,
closed on Mondays.
First Monday of the month,
open for degustation.
THE rain was merciless, beating down hard on a Thursday evening when my colleague Vicky Ooi and I decided to dine at Bistro a Table.
We had opted for dinner on a weekday, thinking it would be less crowded but despite the rain, there was quite a crowd.
Owned by the diminutive Isadora Chai, this contemporary-styled restaurant which has accents of self-styling in its interior, is neither posh nor stifling, but comes across as inviting.
To offer privacy, tables near the walls have transparent curtains that act as a shield to block off prying eyes as different groups, socialise in their cosy corners.
The small print makes the description on its one-page menu hard to read, and as you slowly take in its contents, it is apparent that dishes here are not reflective of bistro food.
If bistros are expected to have inexpensive meals, then the menu is a dead giveaway that Bistro a Table is anything but cheap.
The Signature Coddled Maple Syrup Egg with Crouton Dust & Fleur de Sel (RM16) seems affordable, but scroll down a little further and the prices might just require you to dig deeper into your wallet.
Although we were advised by friends and Liana, the friendly maitre’d, to try the coddled maple syrup egg, we opted for half a dozen Fine de Claire Oysters with Shallot Vinaigrette (RM68) and House Smoked Tasmanian King Salmon Nicoise Salad (RM42) for our starters.
A bowl of piping hot soup would have been perfect on a rainy day but the French Onion Soup with Vanilla Ice Cream (RM18) was the only soup entry and I wasn’t excited about the idea of ice cream in soup.
The oysters from Brittany, France, were fresh slurp-me-down morsels that married well with the tangy vinaigrette and we could have easily relished another plate but it was best not to get ahead of ourselves, even if we were hungry.
The smoked salmon and nicoise salad, I thought, paled in comparison to the splendid flavours of a Warm Smoked Tea Salmon, my benchmark for smoked salmon in the city that I had discovered at a restaurant downtown.
We struggled a little when it came to deciding on our mains as both of us enjoy seafood.
To veer us off the seafood trail, Liana suggested the Stuffed Saddle of Rabbit with Trompette de la Mort and Morrel Mushrooms with Parsnip Puree (RM68), Boston Lobster and Sea Urchin Capellini (RM159) and Port-soaked Raisin and Duck Saucisson with Mash and Lingonberry Sauce (RM58).
As Vicky seemed fixated on the Cannelloni of Seared Scallops and School Prawns in Lobster Bisque and Indonesian Black Nut Tapenade (RM62), I forgoed my initial preference for NZ Wild Caught Red Band Snapper with Lychee Puree and Crushed Potatoes (RM68) for the duck option.
Since it was a bistro, we were casual about trying what the other had ordered.
When the duck arrived, I was happy with its portion as it was good for sharing and had an inviting presentation.
Not only do I prefer duck over chicken, the joy of discovering the popular Scandinavian berry got my tastebuds all perked up.
The lingonberry, a close cousin to cranberry, bilberry and blueberry, has great health benefits like most other berries.
The cabbage sausage-parcel was tightly packed with pieces of juicy duck meat, drizzled with duck juice but it was the lingonberry’s mild sweet and tart flavour that heightened its overall taste.
Vicky’s main course option, Cannelloni of Seared Scallops and School Prawns in Lobster Bisque and Indonesian Black Nut Tapenade, was a wise choice for mains.
Although the scallop and prawn cannelloni starred prominently, the aromatic lobster bisque held its own, with toothsome goodness on a plate.
The Indonesian Black Nut Tapenade featured Parmesan cracker with black nut (buah keluak), which was simply clever. Well, we both enjoyed it!
For dessert, we ordered the Terribly Alcoholic Deconstructed Tiramisu (RM36) and the house signature, Ode to Newton, which takes 25 minutes to prepare.
The tiramisu in a martini glass arrived first, and what a punch it packed!
A shot of Kahlua and Baileys poured over the tiramisu, dusted with cocoa powder, encourages the liqueur to linger on the surface, making each spoonful ever so delightful.
After 25-minute or so, I noticed the Ode to Newton making its way to the table.
“Oh! A souffle,” I said to Vicky as it sat before me.
There’s a bit of a show in this piece, with the Candied Ginger Souffle and pure Tahitian Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, accompanied by a glass of warm ginger beer and Cinnamon and Nutmeg Ice Cream on a Lemongrass Ice Hemisphere on the side.
As the warm ginger beer melts the ice hemisphere, it encourages the ice cream to do what gravity commands and fall into the glass, flavouring the drink.
So, while figuring out the souffle’s taste, I watched in fascination as the Ginger Beer Spider Float was created.
Isadora is not a chef by training, having graduated in Biotechnology, Biochemistry and Marketing, with an honours thesis in stem cell research.
But it was her love for food and creating enticing flavours from fresh ingredients that got her hooked to the business of being a chef.
When she stopped by at our table for a chat, she did make a mention that everything in her kitchen was made from scratch including the candied ginger.
The Ode to Newton is a novel idea.
Sadly, I enjoyed the ginger beer more than the souffle, which lacked flavours of the candied ginger or Tahitian vanilla bean, instead all I got was too much of an ‘eggy’ taste.
Between the two desserts, I would like to return for the tiramisu, but it is unavailable for now, as Isadora likes to change the menu, every now and then.
The damage for the night was RM421.10 including two glasses of wine.