Tucked away right at the end of the peculiar single-storey shopping and dining strip of The Rail Mall is the similarly unique Maison Marie, which recently opened its doors.
Maison Marie isn’t just the front for a singular store. Rather, the name represents two different experiences for the customer to discover — a fresh market and a Bistrot, both conveniently located side-by-side to each other.
The fresh market is very much like a speciality store, with various products and produce from around the world sold right here. Olive oil from Greece and French meat cuts are among the things you can find here; they even have a cake and pastry section.
But the fresh market’s selection of items doesn’t just serve a customer’s grocery needs; it also complements the next door Bistrot. You see, much of what is sold in the fresh market can also be found within the restaurant’s menu. So you get to eat what you see.
The Bistrot itself is a relatively modest but intimate space, fitted with a coffee bar to double as a cafe in the mornings and afternoon and a place for fine dining when night falls. It certainly brings a cosy atmosphere no matter the time you arrive.
The restaurant offers European fare catered to those seeking fine, quality dining reminiscent of what you’ll get from overseas. It is headed by Chef Calvin Tan, who has worked in various restaurants both overseas and locally, such as his stint in the Michelin-starred Ma Cuisine here in Singapore.
Maison Marie offers quite the selection, and below are just some of the dishes that we were able to try from their ala carte menu:
First up are a selection of premium oysters sourced from different parts of France — Isigny Sur Mur, Breuil Utah Beach and Gillardeau.
All three variants are available together as an Oyster Flight ($36 for half dozen), or you can have them individually if you fancy a particular type. There are subtle differences in the taste and texture between the three, but there’s no denying the oysters’ quality and freshness.
The first of the starters to come was the Onion Soup ($15), a French invention. Onions are cooked with beef broth and are topped off with some gratinated gruyere and croutons.
It is an excellent dish that walks the line with deep, beefy flavours without being too overwhelming with the taste of onions. The croutons also still have a nice crisp texture even after absorbing the broth and complemented by the gruyere presence.
Roasted Tiger Prawns
The other starter we had were the Roasted Prawns ($18). These tiger prawns have been roasted and grilled using a charcoal oven and finished off with parsley and garlic oil along with a pairing of bread— overall, a simple combination.
The meat from the prawns is sweet but is not as prevalent, so much of the taste has to come from the garlic oil. You get hints of the garlic from the oil, though I would have liked a more concentrated flavour from it, especially when eaten with the bread pieces, which help mop up the flavour from the oils.
We now get into the territory of the mains, with the first being the Octopus Bolognese ($32). It’s a unique concoction of Gemelli pasta cooked tomatoes, bone marrow and octopus pieces that have been braised for hours. Extra virgin olive oil and grilled octopus pieces are added at the end.
I’m personally not a fan of Gemelli pasta in general, but the rest of the ingredients are superb. Though there isn’t any meat in the dish, you still get the full meaty effect with the bone marrow, and it is tied well with the virgin oil; it is a heavy dish. But the main attraction is the octopus pieces which come with a great smokey flavour and have a nice, crisp char when you bite into it.
Whole Mediterranean Seabream
The Whole Mediterranean Seabream ($30) is rather unassuming at first glance. It’s a dish that is plated very simply, featuring a charcoal-grilled seabream fish with a side of salad and romesco sauce, but don’t let its looks fool you.
The fish has been grilled to perfection; the outer skin is nicely crisp, while the meat remains moist and tender on the inside with salty undertones. Pairing it with the romesco sauce brings an additional smoky flavour to the fish. The salad brings a different experience with crunch from every chew and balances flavours from the mustard, honey and vinegar dressings.
Charolais Beef Ribeye
The last main dish that we were able to try was the Charolais Beef Ribeye ($42), served with a side of fries and choron sauce.
It’s excellent quality beef, and you can taste the smokiness and combination of flavours from the meat. The ribeye itself was, however, much too chewy for my liking. The fries fare a little better, having a nice crisp texture while not being overly salted.
We also got Grilled Broccolini ($14), and it is an excellent refresher to the heavy qualities of the ribeye and fries, fully packed with flavour with crunch and offering a hint of smoky-ness from being on the grill.
Brulee Lemon Tart
What’s a meal without dessert? We end things off with the Brulee Lemon Tart ($6.50), a freshly-made dessert every day with limited quantities.
Typically, desserts tend to be sweet, but the lemon tart is very different in a good way. Taking a bite introduces your tongue to a burst of sour tanginess from the lemon and combines well with the caramelised top for some sweetness, refreshing your palette. The pastry crust is also excellent; it’s light and adds a good chew to the overall dish.
Maison Marie is perhaps a little out of the way in terms of location, but it is a hidden treat that brings a comfy atmosphere while also offering great fine dining. Whether it be some coffee during brunch or an exquisite ribeye over dinner, Maison Marie might just be the place for you — and you can shop the ingredients next door to make it at home as well.
Photos by Darren Chiong of the DANAMIC Team.