Behind Brasserie Gavroche's charming antique doors is a beautifully decorated Parisian-style restaurant festooned with glowing chandeliers, framed recipes and old photos. The restaurant is opened by Chef Frédéric Colin who is armed with a respected culinary pedigree. Born and bred in Paris, Colin spent his formative years in his grand père Henri's restaurant to learn the gastronomic ropes before moving abroad to work in top-notch hotels including St Regis Singapore.
Once inside Gavroche, take a closer look at the pictures on the wall and you will see photos of the chef's grandfather alongside his handwritten menus and recipes. Along with the doors are antique furniture from the 1930s and 1940s which Colin hand picked from all over Paris. The main antique piece is the main bar sourced from the famous Cafe de la Paix in Paris.
The air, thick with French accents, immediately transports you to an insouciant old world bistro in the City of Love. The place was teeming with diners the night we were there, yet the French waitstaff were extremely efficient, swiftly moving between the linen-clad tables. Colin's elegant wife also helps out in the restaurant, graciously asking if guests are enjoying their meals. The chef himself comes out to the floor every now and then to check that everything is perfect.
This is my second time dining at Gavroche. The first was a highly satisfying lunch experience. Tonight, we were anticipating more good things to roll out from the kitchen. After placing our orders, I looked around and saw on my right, a couple and their young daughter enjoying a large platter of oysters from Brittany. On the left, a gentleman happily tucks into a large bowl of moule frites. There's one unifying mood here - everyone seems satisfied.
Colin's food is rustic and delicious, sans flashy elements - which is exactly what we like. On my first visit, we savoured the hearty potée auvergnate, a comforting pork hotpot with cabbage and garden vegetables, a recipe from Colin's grandfather. "Grandpa would be so proud of me if he tasted this dish now," quipped Colin. He informed us that the stock for this traditional dish was painstakingly simmered for about eight hours. The mixture of pork collar, pork belly, and pork ribs were cooked till so tender that the meat easily fell off the bone.
For dinner this time, we decided to order the simple oeuf meurette, which turned out to be the best poached eggs on toast we've ever had. When we cut through the wobbly egg, the soft yolk mingled nicely with the sprinkling of salty bacon. The tangy-sweet red wine reduction on the plate further tempered the overall richness of the dish.
While waiting for our mains to arrive, we shared a platter of cold cuts and pork rillettte with classic accoutrements of cornichons and munched on highly addictive golden brown pommes frites.
When it arrived, my Atlantic cod was perfectly pan-fried and served on a bed of shredded cabbage cooked with crème fraiche and tarragon. The succulent fish went superbly well with my glass of chilled Sancerre. My companion's grilled Angus flank steak was expertly prepared too and served with a shallot confit and roasted potatoes. Both dishes were simple yet heartwarming, just like the pork soup I'd tried.
Gavroche's dessert list contains some de rigueur treats such as crepes suzette and caramelised apple tarte tatin with vanilla ice cream, but a highlight for us was the sublime mille-feuille aux fraises - paper-thin puff pastry stacked with luscious cream and strawberries. And the icing on the cake? Complimentary warm madeleines served straight from the oven. C'est bon? We think so. Were we satisfied like the rest of the customers? Without a doubt.