Food review: Bistro November
Bistro November is a unique, concept "pop up" restaurant that serves a different set meal everyday, according to the chef's whims and fancies. You have little "choice" (there are some ala carte options, but those are limited) other than the set meal itself.
That's not necessarily a bad thing, though, because the brunch we ate on 12 November 2017 was an absolute stunner. In fact, we feel sad that we'll probably never get to experience the food again. That's because Bistro November is open only until the end of November 2017 - hence the name. You'll want to check them out soon!
- Location: Bistro November
50 Keong Saik Road
- Opening hours: Tues - Sat: 8am to 11.30pm
Sun: 8am to 4.30pm
Mon: 8 to 10.30am
(Breakfast - daily 7:30am to 10:30am
Lunch - Tues to Sat 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Dinner - Tues to Sat 6:00pm - late
Sunday Brunch - 11:00am - 3:00pm)
- Price: $45++ for Sunday set brunch
Barley porridge, served with mushroom powder, kelp and tarragon butter
You know you're in for a treat when the first dish that's served is this fascinating. The barley porridge was served together with the burrata and sourdough (which was a great match, but we'll explain more below).
The barley porridge is really intriguing for various reasons - first, it's looks. The barley porridge is green in colour, with a layer of green extra virgin oil floating amidst islands of dark green, almost black kelp and "mushroom powder" (whatever that magical dust is).
Second, the flavour that hits your tongue the moment it enters your mouth. The barley porridge starts out acidic and mildy sour, then twists and turns savoury. The kelp and mushroom powder are like umami supplements, creating an explosion of flavour in your mouth. And of course, that green extra virgin olive oil is so refreshing.
Third, the technique - the reason why it tastes like it does is because the barley is fermented! That must be healthy.
This is an culinary experience that must be had. Despite the unique flavours, if we had to describe how the barley porridge made us feel, it would be "homely" and "warm". Barley has never tasted this good.
Burrata served with sourdough and olive oil
Like we mentioned, the barley porridge was served with burrata and sourdough. This was our stand out, hands down, favourite dish of the meal.
How could something so humble be so amazing? We'll start with the burrata. If you've read our review of Pizzeria Mozza you'll know that we love burrata. Burrata is simply mozzarella cheese stuffed with fresh cream.
Bistro November's burrata, especially the cream, was so fresh. It was rich and creamy, but not overwhelming. Like a gentle richness (if there were ever such a descriptive term).
And the burrata was executed to perfection. It was seasoned perfectly - with no uneven salting. And topped with a generous amount of the most refreshing extra virgin olive oil (which we love saying is green in colour!) and balsamic vinegar that was not too acidic.
Then, we have the sourdough, which was toasted for just the right period of time. It was crispy and fluffy. The perfect base on which to eat the perfect burrata. If we had to find one letdown, it was that the sourdough wasn't warm by the time we ate it.
But the dish wasn't sour, which is great. It was just oh so satisfying.
Back to the pairing with the barley porridge - these two dishes were just a great juxtaposition. On the one hand, you have this sharp, savoury porridge, and on the other hand you have a creamy and "full"-feeling burrata. Eating one mouth of each dish in alternating turns was an experience in complements. Just wow.
Grilled golden pomfret in beurre noisette sauce (feat. caper butter)
The next three dishes were served together - golden pomfret, braised squid and a salad.
The golden pomfret was really tasty. Bistro November got the fundamentals right - the fish was really fresh and wasn't fishy at all. Also, it was grilled until it had a crispy skin, but the flesh was still moist and tender. That's no mean feat.
And then the beurre noisette sauce. We still don't know how to pronounce those words. But it doesn't matter. Because the caper butter in that sauce was just savoury, umami heaven. Every bite made our tongues scream for more. For good reason, too - that moist flesh, crispy skin and savoury caper butter, mixed together for a great texture and flavour.
Braised squid with lentils and chickpeas
The braised squid was nice and tender, and wasn't one bit overcooked. The lentils were earthy and savoury, adding flavour to the otherwise neutral-tasting squid. The dish combined almost felt fruity in taste.
While the combination was nice, the dish was outshone by the burrata (for the starters) and the golden pomfret (for the mains).
Local greens with sherry vinaigrette
The final dish was the salad - local greens with sherry vinaigrette. It featured pickled daikon on top and raw mushrooms hidden inside.
The pickled daikon had an otherworldly smell that's difficult to describe. To us, at least, it didn't seem to bring out much in the flavours of the salad. It looked pretty, but tasted meh.
The raw mushrooms, though, were really amazing. They were slightly sweet and tangy, and even had a slight amount of juice.
The salad was otherwise unexceptional, and was probably our least favourite dish among the meal.
We thoroughly enjoyed our brunch at Bistro November. And dare we say it, we thought it was well worth the high cost. We entered intending to use the 1-for-1 promotion on our Entertainer app, but it turned out Bistro November no longer accepted the Sunday brunch promotion. We still loved it though, maybe partially due to sentimentality (because it's closing by the end of the November).
In any case, the burrata, barley porridge and golden pomfret were amazing dishes of their own right and deserve to be eaten again, and again, and again. Plus, the atmosphere was lovely, and the cafe was decorated beautifully.
Do we enjoy the smart life with this? With food this good, definitely.
Who should eat this? If you can afford the high cost, it's certainly worthwhile to pay them a visit before they close.
Who shouldn't eat this? If you aren't adventurous, then it might not be worth your while.