“Cocotte. It’s actually French for small fireproof dish in which portions of food are cooked and served.”
My host offers as I raise an eyebrow at the sign just past Wanderlust hotel’s lobby reception. I’m here for a tasting and the sneak preview around the Wanderlust premises works up a healthy appetite for the group. We’re ushered to the large communal dining hall.
“We wanted to encourage our guests to mingle and meet.”
Everything in this modest café-restaurant-bar instantly intrigues and arouses curiosity as my eyes quickly scan the surrounds. Little artefacts and relics from old Singapore abounds this French inspired eatery.
Headed by Anthony Yeoh, the 29 year old didn’t follow the beaten path to culinary stardom, he actually studied economics in Australia. After a short stint as a DJ at local radio station Symphony 92.4, he enrolled himself at At-Sunrice Culinary Academy.
I guess it must be in his blood, he founded Funky Chefs; a personal home chef business where he created meals of fine gastronomy all with special select ingredients and other accoutrements from his client’s homes. According to Anthony, he felt duty bound to raise awareness that wealth, sophistication or class were not a factor in dining experiences, his honesty and earnestness caught the attraction of boutique hotelier Loh Lik Peng.
“You have to try the Fried Pig Trotter’s Salad.”
It’s an irony of terms. Salads are usually for the health conscious and if you are like I am, this wouldn’t be for you but personal bias aside, the aroma of freshly fried pig skin on a bed of salad leaves caught my attention. As my fork pierced the crispy outer layer of the trotters, collagen oozed out, releasing the flavour as I (truth be told) gingerly bit down on what I expected to fill my mouth with grease (it didn’t). It was quite honestly sweet release and though I didn’t enjoy the bit s glued to my teeth, the facts were that Chef Anthony is nothing short of amazing, his humble creation might actually nudge me over the fence where it comes to pork based dishes.
“Have some Roast Pork Collar in Dijon Mustard.”
The Chef himself introduces himself. It takes great pride to put one’s creation before oneself, stocky and immensely welcoming, he makes all feel at home. Cocotte’s menu of simple and hearty French cuisine focuses on fresh produce, flavour and technique bar none and it shows in the dishes we sample.
“The Roast Pork Collar is pre-braised in stock and white port reduction before roasting,” he says. It’s all Greek French to me but when forks hit the meat and it simply slides of the bone, it only becomes all too clear. The intensity of flavours is cleverly enhanced with cream and Dijon. I’m not a pork guy, but clearly, I am now. I take seconds, unusual for a man who loves his fitted blazers.
“Would you like some Bouef a la ficelle?”
Say what? It’s beef on a string. I’m a man of simple desires. Give me burgers, give me steak; and I almost reject the whole grass-fed tenderloin before me.
I’m immediately grateful I didn’t turn this poached beef and vegetable broth away. Having the beef flake and dissolve on your tongue is quite an experience, before you are even familiar with the textures, bovine flavour hits your taste buds full force. You’d need to invent a whole other word because calling it delicious really doesn’t do it justice.
In between bites, I took the time to visually explore the décor designed by Chris Lee of Asylum. Romantically rustic, the timber flooring and cleverly re-purposed old wine crate cupboards only add to the sense of nostalgia.
“For desert, Citron Tart and Chocolate Souffle Cake.”
I’ll be honest and say forget weight management here. In fact, leave your inner-health-freak at the door. Everything at Cocotte is meant to visually, orally and gastronomically indulgent. Even if the food doesn’t distract you, the stunning Moooi Dear Ingo lamp that hangs over the communal table for eight will.
The Citron Tart with home made or should I say hotel made tangy lemon cream with orange tuile cleanses my palette. I yearn for more but as always, the chocolate soufflé holds a siren call for me. Served warm and cold, the dark bitter chocolate is immensely enjoyable, if not for the stomach filled twice over, if anything, chocolate is a great reminder that at Cocotte, it’s great to take everything in moderation; if only because going overboard could mean death by ecstasy.
Cocotte Communal Restaurant Bar
The bar sits 10 patrons comfortably and carries a good mix of over 50 old and new world vintages. It’s also one of the few places in Singapore where a traditional piston-driven La Pavoni coffee machine is available. Real baristas work here serving you one of the finest espressos in Singapore.
Expect to spend $30 per person for lunch. $70 per person for dinner.
Head-down-to No.2 Dickson Road Singapore 209494
Lunch- Monday to Saturday 12.00 nn to 2.30pm.
Dinner- Monday to Thursday 6.30pm to 10.30pm Weekends till 11pm.
Closed on Sundays.