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Decent French fare with affordable wine
Ginett Restaurant & Wine Bar
200 Middle Road
Open daily for breakfast, lunch and dinner: 7am to 10.30pm (11.30pm on Fri and Sat)
DEPENDING on which level you enter, Ginett makes you feel like you're either in a Parisian bistro or a boutique hotel that can't quite shake off its backpacker DNA.
It sits in the new Hotel G in Middle Road - right smack in the arts district and edgy in a bohemian, unpolished way. If you come from the carpark on the second floor, you have to squeeze through the tight, tiny lobby before you stumble into the suddenly spacious, colour-bombed restaurant with a...hello... full view of a toilet bowl through the open door of the restroom. Now, we get that it's a nice, shiny, well-decorated toilet bowl, and under other circumstances, we would praise it as a fine example for all other toilet bowls to aspire to. But close the door already.
This lackadaisical approach to details extends to its service, from the way we're told the restaurant is fully booked before they realise we already have a reservation, to being shooed downstairs to the main dining room where a young French waiter hands us a menu while balancing a dish towel and cutlery at the same time. A rather snotty French lady manager breezes through the restaurant, ignoring us just the way we're used to in a Parisian cafe.
Eating off an upside down placemat, we are ready to write the place off after a bowl of French onion soup (S$12) that tastes like it might have hitch-hiked all the way from Montmarte - a weary piece of sodden bread and onions drowned in a watery grave of salty, brown water. Grated cheese on top tries to hide the crime scene beneath.
We are about to regret ordering the blackboard special of Mussels Mariniere (S$30), expecting a bowl of funky shellfish when it's plonked unceremoniously on our table without so much as a bowl to drop the shells in. We make a big show of piling our shells on our little sharing plates, making eye contact with the servers to see if any will get the hint, but they are an unsympathetic lot. However, we can't stop eating the mussels, which are fresh and plump, drenched in an addictive broth of wine, garlic, parsley and cream absorbed into the shellfish juices.
This being styled as a French bistro, we must, of course, try the frog legs (S$30). Pan-fried in a light coating of breadcrumbs, they are salty and taste like chicken wings, but go rather well with the rib-stickingly rich but eventually cloying pasta carbonara - a tangle of spaghetti coated in a slinky, rich coat of cream, cheese and bacon bits.
We're also quite pleased with our Organic Lamb Chop (S$42) - three hunky meaty chops, tender and pink, fanned by rosemary sprigs and tangy béarnaise sauce which goes untouched. The meat, while over-salted, is good enough on its own.
By this time, snotty French manager notices that we are ordering actual food and not nursing the S$6 glasses of wine that the hordes filling up the bar are. She turns into warm French lady and starts chatting with us about the food, and charmingly asks us for feedback since they are still "fine-tuning the menu".
She recommends the house special of La Joue de Boeuf (S$32) - two hunks of nicely gelatinised wagyu beef cheek simmered for 12 hours till fork tender but with enough bite. It comes with a little pot of whipped potatoes - not quite Joel Robuchon-smooth, but it will do.
For dessert, she suggests the profiteroles (S$13) which are thankfully not the hard and dry variety - the three generous puffs are tender and filled with homemade pecan ice cream. Warm chocolate sauce is drizzled over. The pastry could be fluffier and the ice cream stronger in flavour, but is still pleasant enough.
The Lemon Tart (S$8) hits the spot with its crackling crisp cookie-like crust, not-too-tart lemon curd filling and creamy meringue that's lightly torched on top.
The place is packed because people know how to sniff out good drink deals a mile away. The bar counter, with its dramatic chandelier-effect wine glass arrangement, is a magnet for the mostly expat crowd milling around and nibbling on finger food. It's more watering hole than dining destination, but the upside is that if you do end up eating here, you may be pleasantly surprised. It's not the smartest or the best, but it's got a rough charm that eventually grows on you.
WHAT OUR RATINGS MEAN
10: The ultimate dining experience
7-7.5: Good to very good
Our review policy: BT pays for all meals at restaurants reviewed on this page. Unless specified, the writer does not accept hosted meals prior to the review's publication.