Taking over what used to be Orange Thimble, Merci Marcel has been serving up artisan tipples and bringing a taste of Parisian fare to Tiong Bahru.
The exterior of the place greets diners with breezy al fresco seating, the mint coloured deck chairs and large glass windows gives the shophouse plenty of light and makes the space look bigger. The new restaurant is frequented by French expats and curious Tiong Bahru residents alike, looking to try a fresh dining concept and food.
Incorporating the idea of French social dining and village spirit, this dining joint specialises in shared plates and cosy dining spaces, which includes a garden terrace at the back of the compound where you can feel as if you are dining in a quaint restaurant in a European back alley.
The main dining area is made up of tasteful wooden furnishings, elevated tables and bar chairs, along with a raw brick wall displaying artwork by various French artists, providing a tropical twist with its palm tree wall murals.
Curating their retail selection with the underdogs in mind, they are also a distributor of fine French wine, cheeses and native sundries, getting their produce from choice indie vendors from France. The restaurant also carries an exclusive line of Merci Marcel merchandise including tote bags, which fellow Francophiles like myself, can’t wait to get my hands on one of those.
We started off the evening with a couple of drinks recommended by the friendly server, who told us that their tipples have been masterfully crafted in collaboration with La Maison du Whisky.
The La Vie en Marcel ($19, left) was a concoction of Fair Gin, lime cordial, egg white, pear nectar and poire liqueur. This citrusy drink bore a very subtle pear aftertaste and a refreshing tartness that would appeal to any gin lover.
My dining partner and I both enjoyed the Tiong Bahru Spirit ($22). Being a fan of stone fruits myself, I found this cocktail extremely delicious and well balanced, with the authentic taste of apricot nectar and liqueur giving it a great flavour burst. It won us over with its refreshing sweetness and would make a great ladies drink.
The first sharing dish was the Marinated Crab Rilettes ($18), served with sourdough bread. The creamy crustacean dip was topped off with avocado, alfalfa sprouts and sliced pickled radishes.
The avocado and crisp radish slices added texture to the crab dip, while the alfalfa helped to cut through the savouriness to bring out the umami of the crab. This dish was a tad too salty for the both of us and we found ourselves chowing down more pieces of bread to quell the briny aftertaste as well.
Another great sharing dish was the Tarte Flambee ($24), which resembled a thin, flaky Parisian pizza. It was topped off with sliced asparagus and apples, blue cheese, cured bacon and a generous handful of rocket leaves.
The pastry crust was very light and got more addictive as we crunched away on it. The bacon added a delightful smokiness to the dish, and considering how there were plenty of greens on this dish, we definitely didn’t feel the guilt as we polished this off the board.
Merci Marcel’s Pork Tenderloin ($24) is a quality, lean meat wonder served in a sauce of ginger and onions. It was a tad dry on the outside but was very tender as it practically took no effort to chew.
The flavours, however, were very localised to our Singapore palate. Truly, if no one had told us, we would have found it hard to believe that this dish was authentically French.
My favourite dish of the evening was the Ravioles de Royans ($18), which featured tiny spinach ravioli filled with Tete de Moine cheese, and came topped with three rosettes made from the latter.
This came at a decent portion size and when mixed all together, became more and more addictive with every bite. We found ourselves squabbling over the last spoonful of this pasta dish, but if I had just one suggestion, it would be for the ravioli to be cooked a little more al dente.
Closing off our meal at Merci Marcel is the Creme Brûlée with Passionfruit ($9), which came topped with a generous amount of fresh passionfruit jam. I was glad that there was still a crunch from the caramelised brûlée sugar, and the passionfruit seeds added a nice texture to the creamy, vanilla custard base. A nice finish to a wonderfully rich meal.
Merci Marcel is a place worth visiting, especially if you’re in the Tiong Bahru area. Its cosy setting in a quiet neighbourhood makes it a great place for a girl’s night out or date night. I recommend the Ravioles de Royans as a must-try on your next visit, and if you’re looking for a new place to brunch at, do check out their weekend brunch menus too.
Expected Damage: $25 – $35 per pax