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The restaurant is located in a dining precinct with half a dozen other good neighbourhood establishments and complimentary street-side parking in the evening is a bonus. The restaurant interior is classy without being overstated with antique French posters lining one wall and another with drapes and curtains to provide a little privacy between tables. The setting is aimed to be relaxed in order for guests to enjoy a good, rather than a fine dining experience.
Chef Isadora Chai has created quite a reputation for her interpretation of contemporary French cuisine based upon sourcing fine ingredients, offering a manageable menu for both the food and wines and providing a discerning and welcoming dining area. Being an owner-chef is noticeable as there is incredible attention to detail and to getting things just right.
Two dégustation menus are offered as are occasional special menus. Several dishes remain on the menu but changes on a monthly basis according to what the chef can secure in the market. Each dish is visually stimulating with the smoked foie gras plus cotton candy and mushroom powder being a great entrée. Perfectly cooked foie gras is accompanied by two little sweet balls of candy floss, which mellow the creamy fattiness of the duck liver. The truffled ricotta with honey and beef consommé has a similar yin and yang flavour profile and a plump parcel of flavoursome ricotta.
One of the more interesting mains is the saddle of rabbit with deep-fried rillettes yam puff presented on a dark plate. This is very flavoursome with lots of different but complementary taste profiles on the plate. The Margaret River Black Angus tenderloin is cooked to a perfect tenderness and accompanied by a green tea Hollandaise sauce, which highlights the chef’s ability to put a contemporary twist on traditional dishes.
Desserts are obligatory here as they always involve several different taste sensations and complexities. Order the Mindscrew of sugarless pineapple roulade with Sarawakian pink pepper tuile, green apple ice-cream and mango purée to appreciate the depth to which the chef goes to research and combine different taste sensations. It is quite a process that may not appeal to all but starts with sucking on a ‘miracle lozenge’ of an African plant extract that coats the tongue with miraculin, which has the ability to turn sour food into sweet food. This means that the sugarless pineapple in the dessert becomes sweeter as does the savoury flavour of the pepper tuile. This is definitely a dessert for adventurous and playful diners. For a more traditional dessert, order the banana bavarois with dulce de leche ice-cream.
For a small suburban restaurant, seven wines by the glass is very commendable. The restaurant goes to the head of the food-wine pairing continuum by serving Disznókö Tokaji Late Harvest Furmit from Hungary with desserts and Château de Chamirey Mercurey by the glass, carafe and bottle. Some interesting wines make it on the list including an Austrian Grüner Veltliner, three wines from Japan and one from India plus some premium wines from the chef’s personal cellar.
Telephone reservations are confidentially and professionally taken and staff greet guests by name at the door. The front of house staff know their product, are confident to recommend dishes and wise enough to allow guests to have the final say. Staff know the idiosyncrasies of most dishes and convey specific cooking instructions clearly to the chef and go about their duties giving the impression that they actually enjoy waiting on tables.
Everything has a price including fresh, seasonal and often imported produce. The final bill at Bistro à Table is fair when everything is taken into consideration especially the high quality ingredients used and the skilful way in which the produce is used. There are two dégustation menus – a four course offering (RM150) and the deluxe dégustation menu of five courses (RM225). Entrées on the à la carte menu range from RM24 to RM69, mains from RM62 to RM286 (per 100gm of summer Kobe A5 Wagyu) and desserts from RM22 to RM46. Wine by the glass starts at RM28 and goes up to RM54. It’s possible to purchase a bottle of wine for RM165 (Mendoza Alamos Chardonnay from Argentina) but moves up into the stratosphere on the chef’s personal collection of Super Tuscans and vintage Bordeaux wines.