PUBLISHED December 16th, 2016 03:16 pm
The menu at the front of Mad About Sucre makes me go ouch every time I pass through Teo Hong Road. The prices are as pompous as its French descriptions, offering little clue to its whimsical interior and casual air. A host of mismatched, low-slung furniture, plus a parade of hanging tiered cakes – some spinning ominously, some unbelievably fussy – gives the elongate space more doses of Willy Wonka quirk than Parisian café chic.
But one really shouldn’t be fooled into thinking that this is a French Dazzling Café in disguise. There is some serious grit – not just in its sweets department – with Le Cordon Bleu alum Lena Chan at its helm, but also in its savoury offerings doled out by the affable Chef Eric Chan. With every bite, you get closer to admitting that your plastic is worth igniting for this place.
A simple-looking prawn and salmon salad ($35) hides the thought that has gone into it. Smoked in-house with birch wood at 35°C for 6 hours, the salmon ribbons are notably unctuous, while the grilled Icelandic prawns retain an irresistibly plump bite. With a bed of crisp greens dressed in French organic honey, it’s quite the gold class of seafood salads.
The Fishermen’s Bourride ($42) is an even more resounding celebration of seafood. A pungent Spanish garlic aïoli thickens this stew, perfumed with Iranian saffron and white wine.
Chef Eric hardly scrimps on quality, and the ingredients’ freshness does all the talking, even more laudable if his claims of “no chemicals, no preservatives, no additives” are indeed true.
Franco-philes who love pasta will absolutely fall head over heels with the restaurant’s Foie Gras Pasta ($42). Little cubes of Périgord foie gras are seared to seal the little fatty packages with a delightful char. Tossed with firm linguine and generous florets of broccoli, the entire conception is less oily on the palate compared to going the whole hog with the foie gras, but no less satisfying. Brilliant cherry tomato halves, sourced from Provence to Tuscany, provide welcome, acidic respite.
Stewed Oxtail ($42), somewhat the pinnacle of provincial French cookery, isn’t shabby here either. All signs point to a glorious, long braise – plenty of gelatin coaxed into the sauce, meat that yields gently from the bone and layers of deep flavours of earth and field. The plating is pretty bad though, like a product from just five seconds left on the clock, on an episode of Chopped. We’ll take that as countryside charm.
Mad About Sucre’s hefty wine list is admittedly intimidating – bottles open above the $100 range and come from relatively obscure vineyards. However, culinary masochism quickly gives way to sweet gentility when we move into desserts, which is another of Mad about Sucre’s strong suits (sucre means sugar in French).
Go ga-ga over the ornate dessert display – each creation may come with cheesy names like “Amour” and “Passione”, but they harbour fascinating ingredient combinations and flavour profiles. If you thought seasonality in desserts is somewhat loony, wait till you hear about Chef Lena’s overnight marathon recipe-testing upon receiving a shipment of ingredients, just so the final product is served fresh on shelves the next day. We’ll leave you to discover the elaborate desserts, lest this review turns into an essay of incessant fawning.
While the front door menu at Mad About Sucre still makes us go ouch today, it’s certainly with newfound appreciation – that sincerity, heart and passion aren’t things money can easily buy.
Mad About Sucre is located at 27 Teo Hong Road, Singapore 088334, p. 6221 3969. Open Tue-Sat 12.30pm-10pm, Sun 12.30pm-5pm. Closed Mon.
Top Image: Foie Gras Pasta