BY CK Lam
That Little Wine Bar is a name that gets tossed around in Penang since 2009. Located on Chow Thye Road away from the buzzing Burma Road, this European style wine bar is offering a new menu with stylish modern European dishes.
Chef Tommes, owner and chef has created the recipes, and the food is much different to what he has cooked in the past. The chef had updated the cuisine with focus on the French mother sauces such as Espagnole, Allemande and Veloute.
We reveled in the goodness of three starters – Truffle and Cream, Salmon Saignant and the Tuna Ribbons along with Sanz Clasico, an old lively Spainsh favourite.
To begin with, the Truffle and Cream is an unexpectedly interesting starter. The cold smooth rectangle blanket made with milk and egg holds a filling of olive oil confit egg yolk infused with strong dark brown Espagnole sauce, truffle oil and mushroom brunoise.
The blanket is literally sliced right before our eyes with a knife to allow a release of its flavor to ooze from within. We found its presentation simple and the mouthfeel from the interplay of flavors exciting.
The Salmon Saignant appeared next. According to Chef Tommes, the piece of salmon fillet is seared in a dry saucepan for a couple of seconds. With a soft raw center, the fish is served sitting on top the “a la minute spinach velouté along with blanched spinach, olive oil and lemon zest.
The lightness of the veloute with velvety texture is a great counterpoint to the meltingly rich salmon.
The Tuna Ribbons is a starter that seduces with textures as well as Asian and Mexican flavors. The sophisticated dish showcased voluptuous mouth-feel layer of miso jelly topped by an arrangement of guacamole, sushi grade tuna, daikon radish and olive oil emulsion. The kitchen perked up the dish with toppings of red Thai chilli and toasted sesame seeds. It tasted fresh and lively and we like the fact the jelly provides a nice contrast to it.
Next came the delicate looking Watercress soup with a poached egg as the centerpiece – the presentation looks like a lake with an island in the middle. The poached egg melted into a warm sticky coating over the watercress soup thickened with creaminess of potato. It is a truly nice combination, although the sprinkle of salt could have done with a little restraint.
The Tao Qua Kirai made its appearance on a square plate. With a name like Tao Qua, there’s no doubt there is beancurd in the dish. The dish had a piece of deep-fried Penang tofu served with veggies (bell chilies and coriander), green asparagus and extra virgin olive oil mashed potatoes. Tao Qua Kirai is just the thing when you want a light dish. Cooked without milk or butter, the dish turned out to be suitable for vegans as well.
On the menu is a number of dishes based on meat. The Beef Roulade is a carnivorous classic with serious stuff between bites. The dish had Australian beef wrapping around filling of carrots, gherkins and more, simmered in a meat and chicken broth. Its meaty depth of flavor is matched with Sauce Allemande, puree and blaukraut (cooked red cabbage). Priced at RM58, this classic German comfort food is large enough for sharing.
Chef Tommes then brought out the Pork Belly dish containing a hefty slab of pork belly cooked sous vide for 36 hours. The recipe has a side of potato gratin, gravy and apple sauce. The slab of meat is perfectly cut out to maintain a balanced ratio of fat and lean meat.
The last course of the meal is dessert and That Little Wine Bar has several to offer. The list includes Warm Apple Filo Pillow, Creme Brulee, Croustade Aux Pommes and Ice Cream – for the kids and the young at heart.
We indulged in the Croustade Aux Pommes – a covered apple tart with crisp light crust wrapping up soft, cooked apples. Heated up slightly, the warm apple-based dessert is heavenly served with a loving touch of vanilla whipped cream.
The outlet has over 100 varieties of Old World and New World labels. On the Thursday Wine Lovers’ Soiree, guests can enjoy a wine tasting of three wines accompanied by nibbles.
That Little Wine Bar
54 Chow Thye Road
Tel: 04 2268182
Monday – Thursday: 5pm till 12am
Friday – Saturday: 5pm till 1am
Closed on Sunday
* Many thanks to That Little Wine Bar for extending this invitation.