Truly French at Brasserie Enfin
At last, a warm and comforting start with the Traditional Baked Egg with Shrimps and Cream in Cocotte, after the long drive to Brasserie Enfin at Oasis Square in Ara Damansara. Enfin means exactly that -- “at last, or finally”.
We could take that to mean at last, a good French restaurant and Enfin sets out to do exactly that. We dipped our spoons into this hot, half-cooked egg mixture, turning up shrimps, smooth slivers of egg white, runny yolk and crispy croutons. It was good.
The Chicken Livers with Grapes and Brandy were almost like foie gras. The sautéeing had been halted at the right texture – they were soft, with rich bursts, and delicious with the grapes and mushrooms, dredged in the red wine sauce and rocket oil.
Enfin’s executive chef/owner James Won will not serve foie gras in his restaurant, for ethical reasons, but the way the chicken livers were cooked did make them taste like the goose liver.
A traditional French kitchen is always about a good stock and sauces. A beef and chicken stock was used for French Onion Soup; both stocks took 48 hours to make. Even sautéeing the onions took one to two hours. The result? A French Onion Soup that was dark and complex, with layers of flavours, with a crouton with gruyere melted over floating on top. The soup had stirring aromas, taking on the tanginess and saltiness of the cheese.
The Cream of Mushroom Soup was lovely -- creamy and thick, oozing the essence of French and local mushrooms that had been sautéed and pureed and finished with French cream. A thin slice of buttered toast was laid across it. “A French restaurant should have its own breads,” said James. “We make our own and are reasonably happy with it.” Of course the breads are served with French butter.
Good food hinges on fresh ingredients, and the chefs at Enfin showcase the seafood, meat or vegetables available for the day. James’ forte is seafood, so we had the Oven-baked Deep Sea Black Tiger Prawn basted with champagne, vinegar, garlic and butter. It was as promised by James: the 200g to 300g prawn had the crunchiness and firmness of lobster, sweetness of mantis prawn and the creaminess of tiger prawn. The flavours of the basting were infused in the yummy prawn and we chewed on the shell to draw out the goodness of it. We had a bowl of fluffy French fries, crunchy on the outside and moist inside, which were so yummy with garlic aioli.
More seafood came our way. There was the Whole Baked Snapper, deboned from the dorsal fin and stuffed with julienned baby leek and fennel in white wine with a Nantua sauce, steeped from sea urchin with langoustine. Cherry tomatoes, fried garlic, dill, basil and slices of lemon added to the sublime flavours of the sauce embracing the fish. It was easy to eat though we had to be careful of some finer bones still present. The fish was luscious and yummy, the naturally sweet vegetables inside and out made this a balanced, complete dish.
There is no dessert menu. But James offered us a platter of black and white chocolate truffles and macarons – lavender, dark chocolate with chilli, rose, elderflower and tangerine . I liked the dark chocolate with chilli, tangerine and rose the best. “When you have good truffles you can make a good macaron,” offered James, “as you need a good ganache for this.” I ticked all the right boxes for the macarons – the soft, slightly resistant bite varied with the gritty almonds, sinking into the soft ganache. You could also have a Berry Tart, a Tart Tartine if the chef is so inclined to make it for you, and cheese for afters.
James, who trained at le Cordon Bleu in France, and earned his stripes at reputable restaurants there, with a well-known French chef as his mentor, will only take reservations at Enfin. Every table gets his or his chefs’ personal attention, with the dishes well explained as they are served.
Enfin has been opened for three months already. For its first three months it has been serving the Burgundy style of food. Now it’s moving to Normandy, where you could have French Guinea Fowl Braised with Wine, Portobellos and Lentils, Lamb Gigot and Oven Roasted Rabbit with Morrels and Vinegar.
The prices: The snapper is between RM128 to RM228 (it’s enough for three), the soups are RM15 each, Chicken Livers RM14 and Baked Egg RM10.
Brasserie Enfin is located at Lot R-07, 1st Floor, Central Piazza Oasis Square, Ara Damansara, Tel: 03-7832 2969. It’s opened only for dinner, and is closed on Mondays.