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#573

GRATEFUL DATE

09 Jan 2018 By Ben Chin

Good Old Tiong Bahru Gets a French Kiss From New Bistro Merci Marcel.

Just when you thought Tiong Bahru had reached peak hipster, up pops a new French bistro-boutique with the charming moniker Merci Marcel. As much as I dread to use the term, the light-filled, airy space is eminently “Instagrammable”, as many millennials will attest.

Combining the rustic charm of a French country kitchen with modern elegance, and just the lightest dash of tongue-in-cheek (tongue-in-chic?),  the overall vibe is convivial and effortless, perfect for an unhurried brunch on a lazy weekend. The owners, who also helm Ô Batignolles, are championing the art of French social dining, as well as independent artisans through their lovingly curated shelves of boutique wine, organic teas and assorted merchandise.

How does the food stack up though? Happily, very well, like a stack of warm fluffy buttermilk pancakes. Among the classics were some excellent renditions of French-style comfort foods. Undoubtedly, the most unabashed scene-stealer would be the Ravioles de Rayons. A speciality of the Dauphiné region of the Rhône Alpes in France, they’re more delicate renditions of their Italian counterpart and filled with herbs and cheese, in this case, a flavourful Tête de Moine from Switzerland.

The pork tenderloin with caramelised onions and ginger was also recommended. While sufficiently tasty, perhaps the most outstanding aspect of the dish was how adaptable it was to the Asian palate (we thought it was Chinese before being told it was 100% French – mayhaps it was the ginger). It was the red snapper ceviche that got our attention with its lively fresh flavours, as did the light but zingy black pepper tuna (tataki style) with yuzu and soy vinaigrette.

Thirsty? You’ll wanna thank Marcel for the thoughtfully curated wine list. Helpfully sorted by occasions (they call it “Wine Mood”), it’s a handy guide for deciding which wine to pick whether you’re celebrating a special occasion or just having a casual get-together. And it’s not just wines, although it is quite a list. Working with La Maison du Whisky, Merci Marcel has also assembled an exclusive cocktail menu blended with the bistro’s juices and teas. I’m partial to the Espresso Martini;  vodka with a shot from the renowned Tiong Hoe Specialty Coffee – invigorating.

Gallia Beer Merci Marcel

And while the beers on tap are fairly decent (Kronenbourg and Asahi), we’re more excited about the bottled craft beers available. Although its just one: Gallia, a historical Parisian beer that started in 1890 and was revived in 2009, hopefully we’ll see more interesting French brews hit our shores soon.

Merci Marcel, #01-68, 58 Eng Hoon street, tel: 6224-0113.

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