Sunday, 27 January 2013

Yeast, Encore

I rarely produce two reviews from one restaurant, but this place changes character according to the different times of the day. And I am sort of taken with the food there, even though I can afford to dine there, like, once a month. Thank goodness they also sell breads and pastries.

Two realisations: Virtually all my food reviews end with some form of "I'll be back", and I seem to be reviewing more restaurants than books lately. Which is why I guest-blogged this piece elsewhere first. In hindsight, this makes no difference, since every piece I've ever published will still be archived here.

Truth is, I love food more than books but eventually there'll be some foods I may no longer be able to enjoy. Books, on the other hand, do not raise blood sugar or cholesterol levels, although stress level warning labels should be applied to some.

Paris on a plate
When it comes to classic French bistro fare, Yeast Bistronomy rises to the occasion

first published on Nooks and Gems, 27 January 2013

The words spilled into the chat window from Melody's end: "I feel like splurging."

Me too, as it was just after payday and I can always count on Melody's sombre moods as an excuse for a posh evening out. And I had one spot in mind.

"Let's go to France!" I typed out.

"Haha," she shot back. "You going to fly me there, izzit?"

"No, we'll drive. Only twenty minutes to get there."

Because another slice of France had arrived on our shores just a few weeks back.

Diners at Yeast Bistronomyvacherin aux fruits rouge
Diners at Yeast (left) and the vacherin aux fruits rouge
(vacherin with red berries)

On one of her occasional food hunts, Melody had stumbled upon a quaint little boulangerie (bakery) with a cheerful yellow signboard in Bangsar. As I am often a grouchy bear in the mornings when I wake up, she had to drag me there for breakfast one early morning – "Try it, you'll like it" – in case she couldn't finish the food.

Besides breakfast eggs and baked goods, Yeast Bistronomy also offered lunch and, more recently, dinner. I took three looks at the lunch and dinner menu (so many lovely items) and decided that we would be back.

Yeast Bistronomy was a slightly different place at night. The cosy Parisian-style boulangerie in the morning was now a cosy Parisian-style bistro and wine bar by night. The bread shelves and baskets were mostly empty, save for a few doggie bags filled with samples of the morning's baked goods for patrons to take home after dinner.

Chefs at work at Yeast Bistronomy
Chefs at work at Yeast Bistronomy

The founder himself met us at the door and showed us to the seats we picked: at the bar, facing the open kitchen. A veteran of the food and beverage business, Christophe Chatron-Michaud helped open and run restaurants with names such as Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten (Chatron-Michaud reminds me somewhat of New York chef Eric Ripert).

In addition to easing his palate's homesickness, he started Yeast to bring Malaysians what he claims is a more authentic French culinary experience with imported French talent. Form his home country is Yeast's baker, Christophe Gros who inherited his father's skills as an artisanal boulanger (baker) and Yeast's head chef Clara Champonnois. Even the butter Yeast uses, a delicately flavoured, creamy product from the Charentes region in France, is covered by the European Union's Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) scheme.

frisée aux lardons
Frisée aux lardons: French chicory and bacon salad,
with poached egg

With that kind of attention to detail, little wonder the baked goods we'd sampled one Saturday morning had that effect on us. What would the dinner menu do?

We picked seats facing the kitchen prep area, not far from the stoves. Rather warm, but we like being different, and these were ringside seats to some hot cooking action.

After our orders were taken, the bread basket arrived, along with a bit of that EU-covered butter. We nibbled sparingly at the bread, mindful of the need to save room for the main dishes.

boeuf bourguignon
Hearty, flavourful beefy braised goodness. Not telling you
any more about it... go and try it yourself

We shared a salad and soup. The frisée aux lardons is a classic French bistro salad that consists mainly of French chicory and bits of bacon, topped with a poached egg. No complaints with the salad, and the sweetness of the soup du jour, a sweet corn soup, was just right and went well with the shredded duck confit.

Nothing says France more eloquently than foie gras, but boeuf bourguignon will do if you're on the look-out for creeping calories or PETA-type activists. It's enough for Melody, who considers the dish of beef slowly braised in a sauce of red wine a classical French must-try.

Petites Madeleines Chaudes: Tiny bundles of fluffy warm sweetness

What arrived was three chunks of beef sitting on a rib bone laid on a bed of greens, drizzled with sauce that mingled with a pool of "root vegetable" puree — I suspect it's celeriac, which is a kind of ... root vegetable. We saw the sous chef dipping into a crock full of the stuff for someone else's order; "celeriac puree", he told Melody when she had asked.

Mon dieu, the rich, tender, melt-in-your-mouth beef ... each mouthful was a trip back to an old French kitchen where peasants simmered tough cuts of meat in red wine to make them more palatable. The mellow, slightly nutty puree cuts through some of the beef's richness, making each bite feel less heavy, so it goes down much easier. The crispy fried onions on top were a nice touch.

By now, Melody was almost full. I wiped the plate clean of beef juice and sauce with some leftover bread. I sighed deeply. "Okay, I think we can forgo dessert."

For some reason, Monsieur Chatron-Michaud thought different. In spite of Melody's protests, he insisted and assured us that it was just "a little something" that won't bust our guts.

We looked at each other, hoping that the "little something" was measured by Malaysian standards.

We ended up with a vacherin aux fruits rouge, a glass filled with vanilla ice cream, red berries, red berry coulis and bits of meringue at the bottom. The heavy-looking concoction was strangely light, not very filling, and delicious. We also had a ramekin of tiny madeleines, still warm from the oven and dusted with icing sugar.

I look over at Melody, whose mood had significantly improved - but that happened after the braised beef, which I can spell on the first try by now.

"So, can you roll proper French 'R's now?" I asked, still surprised that she had taken French lessons at university.

She seemed uncertain. "I ... think so." And then, she threw out a few phrases. "What do you think?" she asked afterwards.

I think there are some things even authentic French cuisine can't do.

Yeast Bistronomy
24G, Jalan Telawi 2
Bangsar Baru
59100 Kuala Lumpur


Fridays and Saturdays: 8am-10:30pm
Other days from 8am-10pm

Breakfast: 8am-11:30am
Lunch: 11:30am-3:30pm
High Tea: 3:30pm-5:30pm
Dinner: 6pm until closing

Closed on Mondays

+603-2282 0118

Web site | Facebook page


Post a Comment

Got something to say? Great! Rant away!