Monday, August 20, 2007

Petite French food big on taste

19 Aug 2007, ST

By Fong Woei Wan

YOU can't keep a good woman chef down.

In 2003, May Loke set up French restaurant Chez La Mamy in Ann Siang Road. She then closed it down and relocated to Bukit Timah Road in 2005 with La Cuisine.

She has closed that too.

'Landlord problems,' says the 41-year-old.

She is now concentrating on an eatery in Serene Centre, La Petite Cuisine, which she opened with a co-owner last year to serve simple French fare with a feather-light touch.

For a tiny corner shop with 14 tables (seven indoors and seven outdoors), the menu is extensive.

It covers not only classic dishes such as confit de canard (duck cooked in its own fat, $14) and coq au vin (chicken in wine, $9.50) but also vegetarian-friendly food like ravioli of spinach in lemon cream ($8.50).

For $2.50 more, you can choose to start your meal with a soup or end it with a cake.

This is an informal eatery, not a restaurant, so you have to go to the cashier to place your order, as you do in a food court or hawker centre. The good news is, the eatery does not charge GST.

This is not fast food, though. It is slow food, cooked with such care that it demands to be eaten attentively.

The confit de canard which a colleague and I tried was crispier and more flavourful than most I have had.

The coq au vin tasted as if it had been prepared with textbook precision. One moment less over the fire and bits of the meat might have been rare. One moment more and the chicken would not be as succulent.

We relished the ravioli too: al dente pasta cases filled with whole fronds of spinach. A ravioli dish is usually so rich and dense it dampens your dessert plans.

La Petite Cuisine's version uses a lighter lemon cream, so you will still have space for cake.

We definitely did. I liked my orange chocolate cake - a slightly sweet double-decker of orange and chocolate cream - and my colleague appeared to dig her creme brulee ($4.50).

Now, what is French for 'we'll be back'?

La Petite Cuisine
01-05 Serene Centre
10 Jalan Serene
Tel: 6314-3173

Open: 11.30am to 9.30pm daily

Rating: ****

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