With a Toulouse-born chef toiling in the kitchen, a Paris-loving picture of the Seine on the wall, and the 1979 classic Ma Reverence by Veronique Sanson playing on the speakers, Le Gourmandin brings Malaysians closer to France than most of us will get this year. Run by a French-and-Malaysian husband-and-wife team, this new restaurant takes pride in classic brasserie-style cooking, honoured through slow, meticulous preparations that result in sumptuous, memorable flavours.
Le Gourmandin’s founders, Fermin Rieu and Fadhilah Joni, are only in their mid-twenties, but they’ve worked hard in recent years in order to launch their own restaurant. Fermin helms the kitchen, while Fadhilah runs the front of house, a dynamic duo who ensured we enjoyed a very pleasant evening.
Duck dominates the menu: Order the locally sourced duck breast, distinctively cooked medium, as full-fleshed as a steak but unmistakably poultry, with a smooth, firm bite and succulent chew, robust in the pure, clean flavour of duck, sliced in a hearty, boneless serving that two light eaters can share, buoyed by a softly tangy sweet-sour sauce aigre douce (RM50).
Duck devotees, take note of the leg confit too, a far cry from the despicably dry and overly salty renditions elsewhere – this is a rich but not cloying confit with achingly tender meat, splashed with a gorgeously aromatic garlic sauce that makes it even more memorable (RM50). These main courses come with a choice of mashed potatoes or hand-cut fries – we love both!
Chef Fermin is no quack – the success of these recipes rests not only in his French heritage but his drive to offer top-quality fare, prepared from scratch whenever possible. Three-kilogram ducks are delivered whole to the restaurant, so he uses the bones to make stock for his sauces, for example. He also air-dries the meat for a month to make magret seche, the cured duck equivalent of prosciutto, punchy protein for the salade gersoise with mustard sauce (RM27).
One of Fermin and Fadhilah’s collaborators, Francesco, is Italian (the three met in Malaysia), so it makes sense to serve lovely, luscious tagliatelle that marries French and Italian comfort cooking, with plenty of duck slices in mushroom sauce (RM45). Also try the truffled duck burger, layered with slivers of foie gras for a little luxury (RM45; with a RM10 foie surcharge).
We’d be happy to waddle out after all that duck, but desserts proved irresistible, from choux classics like profiteroles and the Paris-Brest to lemon and strawberry tarts. Note that wine is currently unavailable.
D4-G4-01, Solaris Dutamas (behind Publika), Jalan Dutamas 1, Solaris Dutamas, 50480 Kuala Lumpur.
Open Tuesday-Sunday, 11am-1030pm. Kitchen opens for lunch and dinner; the menu is more extensive in the evening. Tel: 011-6970-7473