Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Nathalie's Bastille Day - tres bon!

July 14th 2015

Doc Su Kim and Doc Stephanie
Got an email from the Kiwi with notice and invitation from Nathalie's Cuisine Gourmet to come and celebrate the French National Day with a special menu. Everybody seems to rave about Nathalie's cuisine, and the IWFS have had occasional functions there through the years. Nathalie's food also seems to make an occasional appearance at house parties we have been invited to, and on these occasions the food has been creative, tasty and full of charm. 

Whilst the restaurant on Jalan R Ramlee remains the flagship, Nathalie also operates the Gourmet Studio in the Publika (to which we have yet to go), though ask me how to get to the place will draw a blank stare - getting from the Car Park to the Publika restaurants continues to totally confuse me even after years of going there. For some reason I find it hugely confusing - very little in the way of effective direction and lots of the elevators seem to lead to dead ends from which there is no alternative save to turn back and start again. I avoid the place if I can, though we now have a general rule - look for the Daiso and everything else usually follows.

We had not been to Nathalie's for a good few years, certainly well before I started getting half serious with all this blogging madness. No real reason, it just fell off the map and what with all the foodie groups the Lenglui and I seem to hop around in there's barely a free night in the week to try somewhere on our own. My last memory of it with friends from the UK remains pleasant though having the brightly lit Arab Malaysian camel staring at me all night through the window felt a bit disconcerting. There must have been curtains, just have no memory of them getting drawn. Or of thinking to ask to shift the table to get some relief from the smiling beast. 

Doc Rajan and Doc Stephen
We thought it opportune to take some decent French wines to imbibe - after all, it was Bastille Day and if you're going to celebrate it with good wine friends then might as well go all out balls to the wall with the booze. So out came the 2012 Leflaive Clavoillon Puligny Montrachet and a 2009 Lafon Volnay, the last of the legendary Vinum sale of 2011 when they cleared out their KL outlet. Got some darn tasty wines that day. Nathalie corkage was RM50 a bottle, but totally worth it for the excellent service and glassware. Was nice to get good value for corkage money compared to some of the standard crappy warehouse goblets and the "you got corkscrew, ah?" level of service for which substantial corkage sums get demanded as a matter of course at other eateries in the city. For the wine service alone at Nathalie's I would go back.

Chef for the night would be the jolly and prosperous looking Clara from Provence who made a great name for herself at the Yeast across town with excellent bistro style preparations and the most magnificent bread (though in fairness she diverted credit to her pastry chef who has opened a bread store somewhere else in the city the name of which escapes me - Huckleberry, it might have been). Doc Stephen said her cooking style is a bit more traditional than Mme Nathalie, which I took to mean we could expect a more earthy and rustic feel to the dinner. Works for me - who needs ostentation when we are trying to sing Le Marseilleise?

The six of us were parked thankfully out of the stare of the giant camel and we quckly settled into our evening. Doc Stephen had opened a Cattier pink fizz which he said was related to the second most best selling in the world, the  "Ace Of Spades" which comes in a gold coloured bottle and goes for E300 a pop. Story goes that when Jay Z fell out with the Cristal people, he stumbled on to the Armand de Brignac-produced Ace of Spades champagne and featured it in one of his videos. Armand de Brignac is part of the Cattier family group, which has been in the wine business since 1763 and makes its champagne in the village of Chigny-les-Roses. Following this, he bought the rights to the label from the US company that owned it and has been promoting it like crazy right now in night clubs around the world. 

Our Cattier Rose was very pleasant - good biscuit nose, chewy fruit and crisp firm bubbles on a sleek finish. Jay Z clearly knows his booze. Not sure if Bee Gurl likes a tipple. Have to find out. 

Three Finger Food
First up was a Blue, White and Red cocktail, served with a selection of Three Finger Food. The cocktail was Blue Cacao, Vodka, a sweet and sour mix of syrup water and lime juice and rimmed with coconut. Bit sweet but tasty - coconut was an interesting twist on salt around the rim. Never drunk a flag before.

The Three Finger food actually needed a fork and spoon - it was NZ Oyster in crunchy baked seasoning, Celeriac Soup with Truffle oil and some kind of flaky pastry vol-au-vent with toasted cheese that went straight into the maw. Tasty and quickly consumed with little ceremony. Hungry. 

The chicken Free Range Poultry and Foie Gras Terrine, Green Apple and Hazelnut Dressing was very peasant and pleasant, kind of straight from the farm kitchen and bursting with taste and texture. Very good. The apple and hazelnut made sense but got a bit lost in the acetic salad dressing that kind of overpowered them. Lovely colours on the plate from some red cabbage, rocket,  and purple flowertops.

Free Range Poultry and Foie Gras Terrine
We had it with Doc Stephen's Sauteurnes which ticked pretty much all of the boxes - balance, power, good sweetness and acid. Body felt a shade light, though perhaps this was infancy. Lovely mouthfeel, all apricots, honey and a shade of apple. Didn't get the name for this one. Definitely a natural with the FG - there really is nothing like a sweetie with a dollop of high end pate on a crusty hunk of bread. With butter. Those of us who are slaves to the tongue and belly prostrate ourselves to such things. Yes. We. Do.

Veal Blanquette
There was a choice of John Dory Grenobloise or the Veal Blanquette. We opted for the veal, Lenglui not being a big fan of the John Dory. Whilst we find veal normally tasteless, this one just leapt off the plate - meaty, textured, and drenched in a wonderful wine and mushroom sauce that made the whole thing sing. Totally perfect with both the 2012 Leflaive Clavoillon and the 2009 Lafon Volnay. The Leflaive on its own felt a bit off balance with the acidity fighting the fruit, but when paired with the food it just came into its own. Got fragrance, power, and complexity - nectarine and roses and a magnificent finish. And the Volnay was a total star - power, elegance, superb balance and body, peppered cherry and full fruit and probably at its peak. As said above, we had bought it for substantial discount at the Vinum Clearance sale of 2011 when it closed down its KL Office. Sometimes the wine gods smile. A very fine wine which we were very happy to have drunk and shared in the company of excellent food and good wino friends. 

John Dory Grenobloise
The Fourme D'Amert Cromesqui with Herbs Salad was a cheese croquette with a soft blue cheese centre and served with fresh sparky herbs which made for a charming prickly mouthful of crunch, goo and electric zip on the cheeks. Visually, Clara had speared it with what looked like a Musketeer's cutlass, which was quite cute. Lovely meld of salty cheese and potato. We were on the Doc's CdP by this time. Earthy, terroir driven, bit farmyard at first but evened out down the bottle and in the glass. Powerful, good chewy fruit, bold and firm tannins, silky finish. Big full bodied wine, but elegance as well. It was just a total pleasure to chug this baby. Beautiful as an end of the evening nightcap. 

Fourme D'Amert Cromesqui - speared. All for one...
I have no memory of the Crepe Aumoniere except for swallowing it very fast, which suggests it must have been pretty good. Or I was still hungry. We were all pretty merry by this time, though the Doc insisted on cracking his Tuscan Warrior. This was also a belting wine, coming across as a quite earthy and honest stand-up wine full of body and character - put me in mind of a lovable Gondolier rogue shouting the Italian odds at his competitors whilst romancing your girlfriend - irresistible not to like. Think I am getting to understand the Doc's taste in wine. 

Crepe Aumoniere
Looking at the photos, there was also the Eiffel Tower biscuit done like a tricouleur which was visually cute but a shade sweet on the tongue. Had forgotten all about this one - well squiffy by this time! It did help to soak up the booze, though. Never a bad thing. I have half a memory of coffee...

Tour D'Eiffel, er, biscuits
Will definitely have to get back on Nathalie's mailing list. The cuisine was just the right shade of rustic to lend an undertone of merriment to the somewhat austere restaurant ambience, though get a group of Malaysian foodies together with their wines and any austerity will get kicked out of the door double time. Noisy and full of life - I love it!

The ambience was lovely, the food was very good, the wine service excellent and the company stellar. Vive le Nathalie's, vive le France!

Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie
Menara Taipan
Jalan Punchak (off Jalan P Ramlee)
50250 Kuala Lumpur
tel 03 2072 4452
email   contact@cuisinegourmetbynathalie.com

Come Celebrate the French National Day at Cuisine Gourmet by Nathalie!
Menu at RM185++

Blue, White and Red cocktail, served with a selection of Three Finger Food

Free Range Poultry and Foie Gras Terrine, Green Apple and Hazelnut Dressing

John Dory Grenobloise, Crushed Potatoes or
Veal Blanquette in two ways, Fragranced Pilaf Rice

Fourme D'Amert Cromesqui, Herbs Salad

Crepe Aumoniere, stuffed with Pears and Apples, Apple Tatin Ice Cream

Cattier Armand de Brignac NV
2012 Domaine Leflaive Puligny-Montrachet "Clavoillon"
2009 Lafon Volnay
2009 Dom Du Pegau Cuvee Reservee CdP 
2007 Orma Bolgheri IGT, Toscana.


  1. Thoroughly enjoyed reading this delighful blog and it rekindled memories of a very enjoyable evening.