Go for the fish.
The most surprising element of Cocotte, the inviting French diner tucked away in the lobby of the Wanderlust hotel, is how homely it feels right away. Maybe it’s extra rewarding as you walk in, because, if you were driving there, you would have spent some time hustling for a parking lot along Dickson Road. It’s a skinny street with a couple of boutique hotels, so it helps develop patience, if you catch my drift.
The staff at the door is warm, and ready with suggestions for pre-meal cocktails. This is a big plus. There’s nothing worse than a being left alone with tap water as you inspect the menu.
Named after the small, heatproof dish in which a single portion of food can be cooked and served, Cocotte is a charming hideout whether you’re looking to commune in a small group or nurse a cocktail alone. The simply furnished restaurant looks like the expanded pantry of a French woodworker – recycled wine crates, warm lighting and tidy little tables with spacious elbow room.
Don’t get me wrong, Cocotte can be – and is usually – an intimate experience, if the space is not packed to the gills with hotel guests and walk-in patrons. The small crew looks stretched whenever more than a few tables are filled.
Thankfully for us, head chef Anthony Yeoh’s idea of a push-trolley brunch strays wonderfully from the trappings of burgers, waffles and eggs benny. None of the names here contain the word “fudge”.
Go for the homemade Duck Confit ($16++). It’s wrapped in a warm crepe of roasted shallots, herbs and red cabbage, where the first bite transports you to a rustic village in the south of French. Or sample the Burgundian poached eggs ($14++) made with Bordelaise sauce, lardons, pearl onions, mushrooms and potato puree, a dish as precious as it is gorgeous.
The meal is made complete with my favourite item on the menu, the Roast Seabass Fillet ($26++) – a creamy delight made with olives, roasted red pepper, capers, and served on a cushion of mint, rare watermelon radish, and crunchy quinoa. Makes the parking and offbeat location all worthwhile.
The Cocotte Brunch Trolley makes its rounds on weekends from noon to 3pm. Wanderlust Hotel, 2 Dickson Road. Tel: 62981188