If you weren’t walking along this curve of shophouses, you’d have missed the lipstick red façade of Dutch chef Dennis Kool’s sultry 30-seater red-and-black restaurant. The former Singapore Polo Club F&B manager has ventured out on his own to bring a taste of his home region to ours: from the classic French onion soup to a chargrilled beef tenderloin topped with Delft blue cheese, mushrooms and thyme sauce, and home-made herb-infused tagliatelle. Mash fans might want to try Holland’s hete bliksem – a pounding of potato and apple. If you can make the slight trek out here, the three-course set lunch is a decent $14.80.
Time Out review:
This blink-and-you’ll-miss-it newbie joining the restaurant scene on the slowly gentrifying Kampong Bahru Road is a 30-seater, owned and helmed by Dutch chef Dennis Kool (formerly F&B director of The Jewel Box). It is inviting on first sight: dark wooden furnishings, dramatic red walls and tea lights on the table all set a romantic tone.
Starters sampled from the menu – a mix of European and Mediterranean dishes – were all well executed, but lacked any standout feature. The French onion soup ($12) met all the criteria with a smoky broth filled with caramelised onion, blanketed with a generous portion of grilled gruyère and emmental. The goat’s cheese salad with semi-dried tomatoes, rocket and eggplant compote ($16), and millefeuille of Mediterranean vegetables (thin slices of char-grilled capsicum and zucchini, topped with buffalo mozzarella, $15), were both competent, but brought little new to the table.
The mains helped give the menu some personality. A tender char-grilled 250g pork cutlet (cut in-house, off a pork rack) and Australian-flown pork sausage with fennel dish ($28) was a first-rate introduction to Kool’s cuisine; the Dutch winter staple of hete bliksem (mashed potato and apples) matched the swinefest well, and the creamy wholegrain mustard sauce rounded the dish off beautifully.
It was the char-grilled, grass-fed Hereford tenderloin ($34), however, that was really able to stand out from the crowd. Seared outside and succulent inside, it was cooked perfectly to medium. The steak’s redwine jus with oyster, Portobello and white button mushrooms, thyme and red sauce verged on overpowering, mostly due to the fact that the salads and millefeuille were lacking zest.
We did find the roly-poly chef’s penchant for sitting so close to the payment counter – which prominently faces the room filled with diners – a tad unsettling. Though we appreciate a friendly chef who chats with diners at select moments, we felt a degree of performance anxiety as Kool ‘kept watch’ up to our very last bite. Perhaps keeping an eye on his diners will help him make changes based on their reaction; so while we’re hoping for improvement, for now we’ll give Parsley & Thyme props for its repertoire of over 30 wine labels. Jessica Leow
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