We stumbled into Pivodofr at 11 pm on a Wednesday night, hungy and tired.
It is, at first glance, an unprepossesing continental restaurant off Bugis Junction on Liang Seah street, the decor a distinctly bad cheery version of the late 80's - black wooden picnic chairs, bright yellow walls and the standard continental nudes and guitars on the wall.
Did I mention the black nekkid enameled neck collared nubian statutes? No? That probably sums up the ambience best.
But they were open, we wanted a change from Phin's Steakhouse down the road so we took a chance. That and the set dinners were writ large at $16.50 +++ - no service charge, tax or GST. Considering that it promised mixed salad, soup of the day, garlic toast, choice of main course, drink and dessert of the day. So no, not 1, not 2, not even 3 but 6 items, yes 6 items for $16.50 - and no GST.
Settling down at our table, we consulted the 3 page menu and plomped for the the set dinner with black pepper steak as the main course, adding half dozen escargots at $6.50 to a set meal, instead of the usual $8.00 a la carte price.
Service was prompt- the drinks came for us, with D having a sprite and me a homemade ice lemon tea. The lemon tea wasn't half bad, fresh, tangy and refreshing, with just enough lemon and no bitter rind taste, sweetened with a mix of honey and suger. Made with some care, obviously.
The salad was unremarkable in an 80's way, lettuce, mixed peppers, onions, cucumber and tomato generously plastered with a light, slightly tangy thousand island sauce. A done to death trite combination even though everything was fresh, cold and crunchy, finely sliced with even widths but the mix was 80's to the point of blah to a jaded palate like mine. But still, not bad for $1 6.50 - we weren't expecting much, can you tell?
Then the soup came. Soup of the day, it was a potato soup.
I've never been one for restaurant soups - they're usually mixes of stock and too much flour, leaving a gunky coating in your mouth. But it wasn't potato soup we got - it was Potage au Pommes in the best classical french tradition.
A pale, almost milky emulsion of cream, milk and yolk, it had been sieved to death and was nothing but a nectar of creamy, warm goodness. I've been to too many restaurants have tried but failed too game this soup using lesser ingredients and shortcut techniques. This Potage was, from a platonic point of view, the is the real thing even as campbell/bad restaurant soup are mere shadows on a very bad wall.
This is the real thing for which a home cook (like me) would slave for an hour on the stove doing or even more if you consider that the stock didn't come out of the can.
Needless to say, with bacon bits floating in it and a light dusting of spring onions, the potato soup didn't last long - which is why there are no pictures. The accompanying garlic bread was a crispy, light slice of baguette fragrant and rotten with garlic. At this point, we started patting the chef-owner, Jeremy, on his back about the the potage. He modestly said that it was home made and took a bit more time than usual but hoped we liked it and that we would be back for his mushroom soup.
Then came the escargots, baked in a mix of vpernod, white wine, olive oil and garlic and slathered with a healthy dollop of hollandise. D attacked one, after which he had a stunned, slightly glazed look on his face (I call this the lookof love in his face, the same one he usually reserves for me and my food only). There was silence for a long moment before he softly exlaimed, "these are better than whatever I've had in Paris and Monmartre."
After trying one or two, which was all I was allowed by D, I can safely say that they were the most tender, giving, deliciously succulent escargots I've ever had the good fortune of coming across. As usual, Jeremy was understated, with the one liner: well, you can't overcook them.
My response was: well, they were just right!
Then the main. Pomme frites with steak with a trio of carrot, beans and baby corn, each perfectly julienned and seperately boiled, lightly salted yet tender with the hint of crunch. The steak was a tender, juicy airflown NZ sirloin marinated and plumped to perfection. The pepper sauce is made with fresh ground peppers and the brown sauce is from a stock that isn't out of a can or cube. Not a demi glace but mighty tasty still.
Dessert was an edible custard puff sprinkled with icing sugar. No superlatives here, just something sweet to round out a meal.
We stumbled off into the night, full and happy.
27 September 2006Time:
Good, but the manager and co-owner, Jeremy's wife is a tad dour. She's probably had a long day but I've seen other blog posts about this as well.Total Damage:
$39.50 and 2 distended stomachs. Pay cash after 11,30 pm - otherwise they accept Mastercard and Visa.Dishes:
Cream of Potato Soup (Soup of the Day), Garlic Bread, Ice Lemon Tea, Pepper Steak, Custard Puff.Verdict:
Unfussy, solid continental food with decent service barring the manager-owners slightly dour attitude. Don't expect the most forward or innovative combination of yuppie flavours - no wasabi aiolis, rocket etc. What you will get is well executed comfort food of solid hainanese steakhouse favourites in the tradition of silver spoon or the devonshire grill. This so kicks Han's cafe as. This, for a bit more, is real cafe food. They have a Roast Pork set meal Friday nights that we'll be back for soon.