Monday, April 20, 2015

TOP PICKS FROM TOPSHELF

Out of the slew of new a la carte offerings rustled up by Topshelf's youthful chef cum owner Christopher Yee, I'd be tempted to return for that crisp-skinned Orange Quail (RM27). 
Nestled on a bed of fried shredded leek accompanied by bacon hash topped with a shivery poached egg, it's that kind of soul-satisfying dish that leaves you in a happy, weak-kneed stupour. We love the quail's inherent gaminess (a bare whisper on the palate) and that runny egg yolk that amplifies the sublime flavour of the to-die-for bacon hash.
The heavy evening downpour that heralded our recent visit to this mod French-Italian bistro in TTDI was made bearable by a comforting Prawn Bisque (RM16). A tot of brandy and a dollop of creme fraiche added extra allure to the orange-hued broth with its heartwarming crustacean sweetness. Even this non-soup fan was tempted to paraphrase Oliver Twist's plaintive cry of "please sir, may I have some more?" had I not been distracted by the next exquisite dish of diver scallop.
Now, the uninitiated may quibble at paying such a hefty price for Hand Dived Scallop (RM30) but honestly, this delicate shellfish costs more because it's hand collected by divers who care about the sea and sustainable fish/seafood stock; an eco-friendly practice that's kinder to the environment just like line-fishing.
Lightly pan-fried to caramelise its edges, the plump scallop barely needs embellishment save for some delicate threads of braised leek and miso eggplant in white wine that blend marvellously with its pristine sweetness.
Seared to medium doneness, the juicy and tender Roasted Rack of Lamb (RM55) is another splendid speciality that should spur repeat visits. Complemented by chargrilled broccoli salad, potato puree and jus, you'd pick the bones clean off this subtly smoky and meaty rack.
Boost your green quota with Apricot & Nut Salad (RM25), a crowd-pleasing assortment of healthy lettuce and rocket, sliced cucumber and cherry tomatoes with apricot dices, parmesan shavings and nut vinaigrette.
Homely French comfort food such as Duck Cassoulet (RM38), Pot-Au-Feu (RM43), Iberico Loin (RM56) and Baked Snapper (RM40) also rule the roost in the latest menu.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, cassoulet originates from Languedoc but its recipe varies from region to region. There is even a decree in 1966 which stipulated that a cassoulet should comprise 30% pork (which can include sausage), mutton or preserved goose; 70% haricot beans and stock, fresh pork rinds, herbs and flavourings.
Chef Christopher's Duck Cassoulet warms the cockles of your heart with a whole seared duck leg confit augmenting the deep-seated flavours emanating from the chunky stew of cannellini beans, cubed potato, sliced sausage, bacon and tomato.
Provencal veggies and white while bouillon form a rustic base that captures the natural sweetness and soft flaky texture of the Baked Red Snapper. This simple preparation should reel in fish lovers who prefer their catch served in its entirety, complete with head and bones intact.
If you prefer to avoid dealing with bones, we recommend the Iberico pork loin. Roasted and served with pureed potato and sauteed veggies with some mushroom, the tender, juicy meat is a breeze to savour.
Pot-au-feu is a meal in itself for most French; a tasty classic winter warmer with a melange of textures and flavours due to the inclusion of various meat cuts, veges (carrot, turnips,  onion, leeks and celery are the norm) and aromatic herbs. The serving we sampled packed a noticeably beefy accent with a lingering savoury aftertaste.

Four types of pasta are listed in the menu, to satisfy die-hard carb lovers who can't bear to go without. Despite its minimalist approach, the Pesto Capellini (RM30) is a notable choice with the delicate pasta strands scented with truffle oil and fetchingly graced with Topshelf's house concocted pesto and a shower of parmesan shavings.
Dessert saw us foraying into Christopher's 'chocolate factory' where devilishly decadent treats like Chocolate Fondant (RM21) and Chocolate & Coffee Cremeux (RM19) held us spellbound. I'm partial to the melt-in-the-mouth goodness of the former - an impossibly airy-light yet lushly smooth creation using Valrhona 70% accompanied by chocolate 'soil' and vanilla ice cream.
Olive oil, maldon sea salt and berry compote lend distinct finesse to the chef's Chocolate & Coffee Cremeux, helping the 70% noir dark chocolate cream to coat the palate and leave a long-lasting impression of Topshelf's treasure trove of culinary gems.

For reservations at TOPSHELF, call tel: 03-7727 7277. Address: 61, Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, Taman Tun Dr. Ismail, Kuala Lumpur

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