Monday, August 29, 2011

Cocotte: the Hearty French Fare

I first read about Cocotte through a magazine which featured it's Poulet Roti (roasted organic hormone free chicken)$60 for 2 person. However, I had not the chance to try it as it is only available during dinner. Also, the place promotes communal dining so it's good for groups and families to dine there. Having been eyeing it's much more affordable set lunch, I finally had a taste of what Cocotte food is like even though the signature Poulet Roti was unavailable.
This French restaurant sits inside Wanderlust Hotel in Little India, a couple of minutes of walk from the Little India Mrt. The seats are not very cramped together and quite cosy.they have 3 types of set lunch:
1)$29 for 1: 1 appetizer, 1 main,1 dessert
2)$35 per person for 2: 2 appetizers, 1 main, 1 dessert platter to share
3)$33 per person for 4: 3 appetizers, 2 main, 2 dessert platter

Having scan through all available reviews, we went for the 2nd one $35/pax for 2. My goodness, never underestimate the portion of 1 main as it is supposed to serve 2-3 person as written on it's ala carte menu.
1st appetizer: Escargots Gougeres with parsley cream,tomato Coulis on gruyere pastry.

Had to add another $3 for this but I think it is worth it because I wanted to try escargots when ever it is available on the menu.Though I still prefer the garlic and herbs version of Le Entrecôte's,this one is not too bad either. Much lighter and less savoury.

The gruyere cheese puff was soft and the escargot was quite fresh I think. The greenish cream is the parsley cream that contributes the most flavour to the dish.

2nd appetizer: Pear, Bleu'D Auvergne Salad

This is a much creative salad compared to the usual Caesar salad. With generous chunks of blue cheese and toasted hazelnuts, the salad did not require basalmic vinegar or any dressing.

The argula leaves are only drizzled with lemon but the moist and juicy sliced pear makes the salad a very refreshing one. The blue cheese was not too overpowering and I think many people will be able to accept this somehow more than the usual blue cheese.

Our much awaited main course: The Roasted Pork Collar

The very hot pot came to us with two other sides and you will go WOW when the lid is opened. Right in our eyes is the huge slabs of pork collar swimming in a deep pool of Creamy Dijon Mustard Sauce.....ooh lala.
This is the first time I try the collar part of the pork and it is even much more tender and fork-friendly than stewed beef.

I was so delighted at seeing so much meat and this is the first time I feel that I do not have to ask for more gravy because there was more than sufficient in the HUGE pot.The gravy was too die for. I wanted to order the red wine braised beef but choose this partly because my partner does not take beef and partly because this dish has been highly recommended by many online bloggers. If there were no meat, I would still gladly mop up the entire pot of creamy sauce with white bread. There were little red dots of crushed Dijon mustard seeds.

What exactly is this kind of mustard as we often seen it in hotdogs or paired with roasted cuts? Specifically, Dijon mustard must be prepared from brown or black ground mustard seeds. The seed coats must be filtered out and no coloring agents, stabilizing agents, or fillers may be used. These days, however, instead of using verjuice Dijon mustard is more commonly made using vinegar, wine, or green grape juice.

Brussel sprouts (served with Pork Collar as a side dish)
This was so good and I finished this pot of 6 generous brussel sprouts except 1 consumed by my partner. As noted by her, Cocotte seems to be pairing dishes with nuts, like the hazelnuts in the salad too. This was sprinkled generously with toasted golden brown almond chips and well seasoned.This vegetable is sold in supermarkets but seldom find it's way into restaurants.
 Usually cooked in most Western homes during Christmas as a side dish. I really like this ball as it is very soft but still crunchy so the texture is just perfect, as compared to really hard versions that I've had before.
我第一次发现为什么有些人说蔬菜有自燃的甜味。这个、真的很甜。但不是萝卜的那种甜。

Garlic Potatoes and forest mushrooms(served with Pork Collar as a side dish)

The deep fried garlic bits and salt flakes that are tossed with the mushrooms really set the taste apart from the usual roasted potatoes. Together with the mushrooms, the potatoes have a coat of oil that glistened under the lightings. Good for dipping into the pork sauce:)

There was visible blubbers of fat but the meat to fat ratio is more balanced than our Chinese 红烧五花肉 Aka stewed pork belly.
But I guess this version is much sinful and richer and thicker because the fats from the pork has literally melted and dissolved in the gravy.Really a comfort hearty French fare and the best pork dish I've tried so far.

Let's talk about the portion.
This was for 2-3 person but we did not expect the portion to be so much.
What was left after taking our first huge serving each, this was what was left after 2 rounds of pork. Ok...加油加油...还有很多。

Then we went happily to challenge our next serving, the next, and continue digging. Just as we thought we've hit the base as the serving spoon seems to hit a flat hard surface, there was another piece of complete slab of meat in one whole!!!!!
We wanted to dig for mushrooms but there was none. This was an HONEST POT OF PORK. Nothing but 肉, 肉和更多肉。In the end, my partner surrender and I went on to challenge about half of this huge slab. I gave up too. Not to forget that I finished almost the entire bowl of brussel sprouts and some potatoes in between the meaty expedition.

But come to think of it, this pot is really value for $$$. If you just order this 2-3portion one from the ala carte, it is $98. So set lunch is really worth it.We really wanted to finish this because we do not want to waste food. And in the end, when the waitress's came and cleared the table, she asked if we would like to take away the remaining palm sized piece of meat. It was then that I realized...oh I can actually takeaway...那早知道就不用一直塞。

The dessert platter consisting of the French Basque cake with chantily creme, pineapple sorbet and molten chocolate cake.
The pineapple sorbet (top right) was very very sweet. But because it's sorbet and not ice cream, it was finished shortly as the texture is not too creamily rich.

(from the platter)French Basque cake: this is a traditional cake from Basque in France,sandwiched with chocolate custard filling.
The cake is not too heavy despite it looking like a butter pound cake and it even has a slightly crumbly edge.luckily, the cake us not too oily nor sweet and paired quite well with the sweetened whipped cream:)

Molten chocolate with it's oozing lava.
 This met the expectation as the lava was in liquid state. But felt that the temperature had turned lukewarm. This was it's specials of the day and not available as ala carte.

Ok. So that's the set lunch part which if I calculated would cost $163 based on it's alacarte price. So the set lunch is very worth the value. Just as you might think we would be packing up to leave the place after the dessert platter, you might be wrong.

Even though we were filled to the brim, as two greedy people, the dessert platter was not enough to satisfy the variety aspect. So it gives us an excuse to order another dessert from the ala carte menu.
Chocolate Royal
Valhorna Aruguani mousse on top of crispy praline layer and almond sponge with drizzles of Creme Anglaise all over the plate.

The chocolate was not that soft luscious but dark and velvety. We both liked the crispy crunchy layer at the base of the cake. But for the price, I think the portion can be more generous:)

The End.First time devouring more meat than desserts at one go.But this experience was really worth as the pork collar tasted so heavenly. But did I forget to mention that the set lunch is only lasting till end of August 2011?
Cocotte
2 Dickson Road
Inside Wanderlust Hotel
Lunch 12-2.30pm
Dinner 6.30-10.30/11.00pm
for menu and details:
http://restaurantcocotte.com/.com

found this outside the wanderlust hotel. Guessed the previous site was used as Hong Wen School

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