Along the rustic streets of Tengkat Tong Shin sits a reclaimed shop house reinvented into a quaint little eatery that is humble in design, but do not mistaken this for any simple restaurant, stylised as French FEAST, serving some of the most traditional classical French cuisine you will find in Kuala Lumpur. From the ashes of La Vie En Rose, this restaurant is the rebirth of one of the more spectacular French cuisine with their traditional recipes and classics, as seen in their preparation of their elegant foie gras.
As you enter the restaurant, you are greeted by tables in the lawn of a quintessential converted colonial Malaysian shop house, complete with green stained glass window panels. The tables are set like you would find in any fine dining restaurant, yet exudes a very rustic touch to it. What French Feast has managed to do is to deliver a refined experience in an unpretentious setting, where the food is allowed to speak for itself.
This phoenix of a restaurant has risen from the ashes of the once known La Vie En Rose, and is the brainchild of owner Jean-Michel Fraisse, where the kitchen is helmed by Executive Chef Mickael Cornutrait, a French born and bred hailing from Macon, Burgundy. He studied at a hotel school in Lyon for 5 years and was responsible for most of the dishes you see at La Vie En Rose. It was how he initially ended up at French Feast. When asked what his philosophy is when it comes to cooking, he stated: –
“Honesty. We want people to come for the food, and the casual atmosphere. We adhere to classical French cooking because it will never go out of style. It’s a classic. It’s not dated or on trend so people who dine here will get a taste of what traditional French cooking has to offer. My favourite dish to make is the joue de bouef braise façon bourguinon, petits legumes glacés, purée de pomme de terre parfumée à la truffe (Red Wine Braised Beef Cheek, glazed vegetables and truffle mashed potatoes). This dish reminds me of my grandmother’s house when she would cook that for the family. As chefs, we are very normal people. We can eat fast food, light food, snacks, fine dining… it all depends on our moods. I don’t really have a favourite dish but I do like to eat bread at least daily.” — Mickael Cornutrait, Executive Chef of French Feast Restaurant & Wine Bar.
French Feast offers something that is very unique amongst French restaurants in Malaysia, a simple approach. The food here speaks for itself, with its earthen pots and use of very traditional ingredients. The restaurant only serves food with the actual ingredients, from the herbs and spices used to the specific types of white haricot beans, called coco beans in French, in the cassoulet. As Cornutrait so simply puts it: –
“The quality of fine dining in Malaysia is getting better and better, but is difficult due to the quality of the produce and prices of obtaining them.”
The first dish served, an appetiser, was the Terrine de Campagne, Confiture d’ognions au Vin Rouge et Cassis (Coutry Style Terrince, Red Wine Onion Jam and Pickles). This dish was a nice starter for the night as the terrine had a nice coarse bite to it, typical of the rustic country style prepared dishes. With a good balance of meat, fat and seasoning, the terrine was complimented with the pungent red wine onion jam, adding a nice acidity to the dish. A floret of Roselle added sweet acidity and the sour cornichon and pickled onions gave it a play on the tongue.
The second dish served, an appetiser, was the Foie Gras Poélé et Pommes Caramélisées, Vieux Vinaigre Balsamique (Pan Fried Duck Foie Gras with Caramelised Apple and 25-Year-Old Balsamic Vinegar. The pan fried duck foie gras was perfectly seared, with the right temperature and char on the outside while the inside remaining pink and tender. The delicate flavour of the foie gras is preserved, complimented with the sweetness of the caramelised apple, and further enhanced by the tangy balsamic. One of our favourite dishes, a definite must try.
The third dish served, a main dish, was the Tartare de Boeuf au Couteau au Magret Fumé Séché et Condiments (Tartare of Hand Cut Beef Tenderloin with Air-Dried Duck Breast). A classical French dish, made from perfectly diced beef tenderloin which was fresh and in the right size, with seasoning that was subtle letting the meat tell its own tale. The roquette leaves added a nice sharp cut to the earthy meat, which is contrasted by the iron taste of the in house air-dried duck breast.
The fourth dish served, a main dish, was the Cassoulet de Castelnaudary (Castelnaudary Style Cassoulet of Duck Confit, Sausage, Pork Belly and Coco Beans). This very classical French dish, where the meat is stewed in an earthen pot, is traditionally made with different types of meat, typically pork or mutton. Cassoulet from Castelnaudary however, usually uses duck confit, imparting a richer taste. The dish here is typically on the salty and savoury side, as it includes the use of sausage and pork belly bacon, which saltiness is absorbed by the white haricot (haricot blancs). This dish is for those who are looking for something a little heartier and can lean towards the salty side.
The fifth dish served, a dessert, was the Profiteroles (Choux Puff Filled with Bourbon Vanilla Ice Cream, Chocolate and Caramel Sauce). The choux pastry was still firm and crispy on the outside, even though filled with bourbon vanilla ice cream. Yet another classical French dessert.
Air Dried, Cured and Smoked Meats
One key note of this restaurant is that they try to prepare everything in house, from the salting and air drying of the duck breasts to the curing of meats. All sausages are also prepared in the kitchen, and smoking is done in house when needed for the cured meats. This way, they are able to control the quality of the meats served, adhering to traditional French recipes.
French Feast also carries a number of rare French wines which may complement any meal or to be had on their own. One such wine is the Vieil Armangac Delord Récolete 1941, one of their rarer wines. Their wide selection of red and white wines are a great way to unwind the day in the relaxed setting, indoors or outdoors.
The French Feast Experience
There are many French restaurants in Kuala Lumpur which delivers a great fine dining experience, but few are able to provide such an experience in a laid back environment like French Feast. The traditional cooking is hard to come by as most French restaurants are more contemporary in menu. This is the experience that French Feast is trying to give to its patrons, and as aptly put: –
“People who travel a lot will know what fine dining is, whereas others may not. Some don’t have a comprehensive idea of what fine dining is. It’s not only about the food or the plating, it’s a whole experience. In Malaysia, you can go for fine dining, but seldom you will have the service that goes with it. Service is not only about carrying a plate. You have to tell a story, one that is in perfect osmosis with the chef.”
If you are looking for the perfect place to try traditional French cuisine, one that most French people will be accustomed to, then look no further.
French Feast Restaurant & Wine Bar
20, Tengkat Tong Shin,
50200 Kuala Lumpur.
+603 2110 6283
Opening Hours: Monday to Friday, 6.30 pm to 10.30 pm; Saturdays, 10.00 am to 10.30 pm; Sundays, 10.00 am to 2.00 pm
| PHOTOGRAPHY BY: NICHOLAS NG | WEBSITE: FRENCH FEAST |