Thursday, March 15, 2018

NEW CHEF DEBUTS AT MAISON FRANÇAISE


Once upon a time, in October 2011, Maison Française entered Klang Valley’s intensely competitive restaurant scene. Defying the odds, it succeeded in establishing a foothold as a fine French dining outpost. 
Tucked away in a quiet cul-de-sac amidst existing posh condos and upcoming skyscrapers within the Golden Triangle, the restaurant is now the domain of Brittany-born Chef Florent Lescouezec. His culinary creations should bestow fresh shine to Maison's menu; be it a la carte, a 4-course Menu Gourmand (RM280++ per person) or a 6-course Menu Degustation (RM390++ per person).
 
Although ghastly construction goings-on nearby aren’t complementary to Maison’s elegant, monochromatic ambience, those unseemly sights can be kept at bay once the dining space’s drapes are drawn.   
Chef Florent’s exquisite opener of Larnaudie Duck Foie Gras Custard with Smoked Eel, Green Apple Emulsion and Artichoke (RM90++) should serve as an apt distraction. The feather-light custard is made from foie gras de canard (duck liver) from Jean Larnaudie, a French foie gras specialist with a long history dating back to 1950. A fleeting hint of smokiness was discernible in mouthfuls of the lush custard; its cloud-like texture enlivened by a frothy green apple emulsion.

Quinoa — once a humble, poor man’s grain now food of choice for health-conscious urbanites — made its presence felt in the subsequent offering of Gamberro Rosso Tartare with Kristal caviar, crustecean oil and quinoa taboule (RM110++). The collusion of tastes and textures: from the natural sweetness of the red prawn to the coy nuttiness of the quinoa grains was delicate, almost playful on the palate.

A key staple since Maison’s opened its doors, the Signature Lobster Bisque (RM75++) remained something to write home about. The flavour-rich broth’s unabashed umami profile simply reinforced its long-standing appeal.
Escargot fans rejoice! Snail-pace is the way to savour the sumptuous French Organic Farm Snails in Fricassée, Garlic Butter and Porcini Mushrooms (RM90++). Sautéed in garlic butter and earthy porcini, the deliciously tender morsels came encased in a crisp golden brown breaded golf ball-size ‘shell’.
Like the proverbial ‘the devil’s in the details’ saying, we were reminded why a seemingly simple appetiser such as House Smoked Duck Breast, Shredded Confit of Duck Leg, 64.5 degrees Egg & Buttered Kale (RM80++) command such a high price. Before it hit the table, the chef and his team had put in hours of painstaking labour and sometimes, days of prep work in their quest to get the various components ready. To say the speciality was quackingly good won’t do it justice as the yummilicious ducky duet took to the sous vide egg like...well, ducks to water.
New mains in the spotlight ranged from extravagant Butter Poached Lobster (RM320++), French-aged Sirloin On The Grill and Slow-cooked Rump of Lamb (RM140++) to more rustic Butter Poached Wild French Cod (RM140++) and Poultry Breast Blanquette (RM160++).
The chef’s culinary artistry and technical competence came to the fore in ensuring the lobster creation looked good and tasted even better. Never mind its pared-down preso; put it down to the French respect for letting quality ingredients shine minus the frills.
Likewise, the medium, aged beef held its own; a pivotal lead touched by wisps of mesquite wood on the grill. With a convivial coterie of anchovy, horseradish, celeriac puree and onion tart in attendance, it left our hearts and tummies thoroughly smitten.
Also deserving of applause was the lamb. Slow cooked to blush pink doneness, its tenderness provided nice contrasting textural interplay with the soft eggplant confit and buttered broad beans.
Personally, I was reeled in by the Butter Poached Wild French Cod, Pea and Basil Velouté, Sauce Vierge (RM140++). Sauce vierge or virgin sauce in French is a blend of olive oil, lemon juice, chopped basil and tomato – presumably a trick of the trade to lighten the classical velouté, a mother sauce. In this instance, the resultant liquidy mixture made quite a splash when sampled with the fab fish.
Musky aroma of truffle juice whetted our appetite for the Poultry Breast Blanquette (RM160++). Akin to a ‘white-out’ ragout (French stew), this speciality also comprised truffle white pudding sausage and black trumpet mushrooms injecting their tasteful characters into the equation.
Happily ever-afters to wrap up your dining foray to Maison should cover the alluring
Valrhona Dark Chocolate & Pistachio Lava Cake with Vanilla Ice Cream (RM40++). Thumbs up to the green, nutty and bittersweet slant.
Chocoholics may find sweet succour in the delightful Chocolate Pear, Quince Paste, Jivara and Dulcey Chocolate Mousse (RM40++). A dreamy platter of distinctive Valrhona chocolates: Jivara 40% caramel-vanilla notes with a touch of malt meets Dulcey 32% blond chocolate with buttery and toasty notes, accented by a hint of salt, guaranteed to lift choc-loving diners to new highs.
Prefer returning to basics? Chef Florent tricked up Classic Tatin Apple Pie with a scoop of Bourbon Vanilla Cream Cheese, a grown-up, boozy uptake of old-school apple pie a la mode.

For reservations at Maison Francaise, call tel: 03 2144 1474. The homey colonial bungalow-based dining enclave is located at 5, Jalan Changkat Kia Peng, Kuala Lumpur.


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