Sharing the same name as the esteemed French novelist and playwright, Honoré de Balzac, Balzac Brasserie remains true to its namesake by serving traditional home-style French food that is rich in detail. Located within Hotel Rendezvous in Bras Basah, this restaurant will be a hit with diners craving affordable but hearty bistro-style French food. It is helmed by Chef Jean-Charles Dubois, who was previously with The French Kitchen.
The interior of the restaurant has 2 sections. There is a bar with high tables and chairs. Those who need a drink before dinner can sit at the bar. There are also tables and chairs for diners in this section. On the other side is a ‘living wall’ of verdant vegetation, making you feel like you are dining in a garden. This section has wrought-iron white chairs and tables.
What is most satisfying when you dine at a European restaurant is the serving of warm bread. The bread was walnut and raisin, served together with salmon mousse spread and herb butter. The home-made bread went very well with the salmon mousse spread, and we asked for a second serving.
Some of the signature dishes we tried were the Smoked Salmon (S$14/-), Beef Cheeks a la Cuillere (S$26/-) and Duck Confit (S$26/-). The salmon was smoked in-house on darphin potato and served with crème fraiche, lemon and garden dill. The salmon tasted fresh and there was no hint that it has been smoked.
The beef cheeks were braised to a level of supreme tenderness that the meat just crumbled when we tried to fork it. It thus did not come as much of a surprise when we learnt later that the meat had been braised for 48 hours. The beef cheeks were served with bordelaise sauce and mashed potato “grand mere”. The sauce was rich and accentuated the texture and flavour of the beef cheeks.
Duck Confit is a staple dish in most French restaurants. Here, it is served with an orange sauce and mashed potato “grand mere”. We liked the crispy skin on the outside, but found the meat a tad too dry. The orange sauce compensated though, lending a tangy touch to the savoury dish.
In addition to the signature dishes, we also ordered the Escargots De Bourgogne (1/2 doz. $14/-, 1 doz. $22/-) and Crabe Remoulade ($12/-). The escargots were cooked Provencale style with parsley, garlic and butter. They were served piping hot, and the fragrance from the garlic and melted butter made the dish irresistible. We requested for more bread to be paired with the garlic and melted butter.
The crab remoulade is a combination of crabmeat, hass avocado and remoulade sauce. The plating was simple – it was served in a bowl – but we did not mind as the dish was delicious and the chef was generous with the amount of crabmeat.
To end the meal, we opted for the two signature desserts. These are the Balzac Crème Brulee ($9/-), which is prepared in the classic style with Tahitian vanilla, and the Valrhona Chocolate Moelleux ($9/-). We found the caramelised sugar layer on top of the crème brulee to be a little coarse and thick. The chocolate tart served was soft and moist and came with a scoop of Tahitian vanilla ice cream. For those who love chocolate, go for the chocolate tart – it was rich, chocolatey and creamy, without being too sweet.
Chef Dubois came from the village of Angers in Loire Valley in France. He is inspired by the simple recipes from his family’s kitchen. At Balzac Brasserie, the food is French and homely; servings are generous and the food is reasonably priced.
9 Bras Basah Road
#01-01 Rendezvous Hotel Gallery
Daily: Lunch – 11.30 am till 2.30 pm
Dinner – 6.30 pm till 10.30 pm