Bouchon may well have a new impressive home but its ethos of specialising in high-quality fare in unpretentious surroundings remains just the same. Editor Marissa Carruthers and photographer Lucas Veuve taste its new menu.
While change can leave some recoiling in fear, others embrace it like a long-lost child, seizing the chance to pause, reflect and improve. This is exactly what Bouchon’s owners did when they discovered the landlord of their established Street 246 wine bar was selling the spot after six years.
Seeing it as an opportunity rather than a stumbling block, they searched for the perfect place to start Bouchon’s next chapter. And when they came across the stunning 1920s colonial villa on Street 174, they knew they had found their new home.
Set across two floors, downstairs takes in a spacious outdoor terrace dotted with greenery, tables and chairs, with a small sheltered bar and stools. Upstairs boasts a grand covered balcony and large indoor area with ample seating. Paying testament to the owners’ promise that while the venue may have changed, the vibe has not, the signature U-shaped bar from the former location is once again the centrepiece, and the wide range of imported French wines remains at Bouchon’s heart.
One major change, however, comes in the form of food, and Chef Bertrand Dardé has been recruited to add some contemporary French flair to the kitchen. Classics, such as the beef bourguignon, coq au vin and, of course, the cheese platter, remain on the menu, which has been expanded to take in more mouth-watering meals.
Tapas offerings – perfect for sharing in the more casual downstairs space – span aubergine caviar on toast ($3.50), mackerel rillettes ($3.50) and dry sausage platter ($3). A large barbecue on the edge of the outdoor terrace specialises in grilled meats, such as beef skewer ($8), pork rib ($8) and prime rib eye steak (400g/ $29).
With the menu still in the experimental phase, we sampled a few dishes that are yet to put in a full time appearance, having been carefully created by Chef Bertrand to celebrate June’s World Gin Day.
The starter saw four blinis artistically plated with thin layers of gravlax salmon – raw salmon marinated in house in salt, sugar, herbs and a dash of gin for 24 hours – placed atop. The freshness of the homemade blinis shines through. They retained the right moist bite, working perfectly with the salmon, given a mellow after-kick by the addition of the gin.
Next up was the seabass and baby vegetables ($7). As a permanent fixture on the menu, this meal presents a healthy fillet of fish topped with a thick crust of breadcrumb and herbs, served with white wine veloute and broccoli, carrots and turnip. The soft fish falls apart on the fork, contrasting well with the crisp crust. The sauce adds a subtle creamy taste, fusing together the fish and vegetables.
For dessert, we devoured the raspberry mousse with G&T sorbet and dark chocolate finish. Refreshing and moreish, the mousse is light and packed full of fruity flavours, the sorbet has a kick of alcohol, while the small chocolate biscuits add a welcome crunch, and the definite desire to come back for more.