Bar-A-Thym, named coyly after the French word, ‘baratin’ which means sweet talks, and thyme, a popular herb used in Southern France, Chef Francois Mermilliod who hails from there serves up seafood and meats served on a flat-grill called a ‘plancha‘. Bar-A-Thym’s partners include The Prive Group, and rightfully displaced Wolf, a nose-to-tail dining concept which didn’t quite break through with its curious cuts rather gamey for most local palates.
The menus of most Western restaurants here have taken the trend of sharing plates as starters, which is not too bad an idea since Singaporeans love sharing their food. We ordered the Marinated Sardines (S$18), Mediterranean Sotong (S$22)and Bacalao Accras (S$22), which is simply salted cod croquettas – a dish I discovered and really enjoyed from my Portugal experience.
The Mediterranean Sotong really stood out, being cooked perfectly on a bed of Fregola tossed with chorizo. This was an atypical combination for me because I always felt that chorizos are usually heavily salted and bold in meaty flavours which might mask the more sophisticated seafood flavour. The croquettas on the other hand, were a little too heavily battered and I thought the taste of the salted cod didn’t quite come through. It could have been mashed up, but I’d rather have it still in its cod flakes form to give it a bit more bite.
Strangely, the menu came with an extremely limited selection of carbo dishes. We ordered the Alaskan King Crab Angel Hair Pasta (S$32) and a Foie Gras Terrine (S$28) to share as well, seeing how rich the ingredients are.
The angel hair pasta was a bit over done, and I thought it was a bit heavy on olive oil which lingered even after each mouthful was swallowed. It was definitely a tasty dish otherwise, with a generous portion of Alaskan crab and a creamy uni richness which I liken to a good carbonara sauce. The foie gras terrine was an utter delight. With the leftover bread, I slathered an unembarrassing dollop of terrine together with the pear-raisin chutney and I felt it slide down my throat like a delicious lump of buttered fat.
Just two weeks into its opening, I wasn’t expecting a menu that elaborate for mains, and a special on top of that. We ordered the Bouillabaisse (can’t remember how much it was), the special of the day, and the Wagyu Beef Sirloin which particularly captured my attention at a price of S$48.
The bouillabaisse came with generous cuts of prawn, crab and scallop but I thought the bisque that accompanied it lacked depth. We compared it to the bisque we had at Bar-Roque grill, which they reduced to make it more like a dip instead of sauce to go along the clams – and that was really hearty without being too heavy. The Wagyu Sirloin did not disappoint, being cooked to medium rare doneness quite competently. Every bite left me lingering for more of the well-seasoned, deep red meaty goodness. I thought the giselles were a bit overpowering though, tasting rather toasty and woody. It didn’t complement the dish overall and left me wondering why a strong tasting funghi was chosen as its equal. The side of epoisse gratin was amazing – creamy, cheesy and fulfilling.
Service was great overall despite the place being quite occupied for a Tuesday evening. Little tweaks can be made here and there for the dishes, but overall, the food left quite an impression and I will be back when they launch the omakase menu proper. (I wish I had taken nicer pictures though but the overall dimness and the orange light made it a tad challenging)
Quality of food: 7.5/10
Value for money: 7/10
18 Gemmill Lane
Hours: Lunch – Mon to Fri 12nn to 3pm, Dinner – Mon to Sat 6pm to 10.30pm
Nearest MRT station: Telok Ayer
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