Last Updated: November 1, 2020
I don’t know where I am; an hour-long train ride and a couple of bus stops has frankly gotten me quite disoriented. I’ve often heard of the street name Ulu Pandan in passing jokes, though I’ve never gone so far as to traipse over to this side of Singapore myself. But for The French Ladle, today, I will.
Of 161 Google reviews, The French Ladle scores a glowing 4.5 stars out of 5—by many who claim to highly adore the quaint, unpretentious, and intimate setting of the family-owned restaurant.
A step into the humble establishment is a whoosh back in time—framed pictures of popular French places of interest join the hand-written menu that sits sturdily on brawny white brick walls, as if untouched for the past five years. I spot a couple of Tintin posters by the corner and stifle a chuckle of nostalgia.
Don’t expect to be called ‘ma’am’ and ushered to your table by a waiter in a suit while you’re here. “We’re not even open yet, please wait by the side,” chimes Lisa, one of the two restaurant owners. I glance at my watch—it’s four minutes to noon.
Today’s Executive Lunch Set (S$35) involves three courses—a starter, a main, and a simple dessert. I jump quickly and furiously at any occasion to indulge in Foie Gras (+S$10). I discovered its divine wonders by accident five years ago and have never looked back since.
Served with a simple salad mix on the side, I think I’m beginning to understand the philosophy here at The French Ladle. The chefs understand exactly what you need, and hand you just that. No fanfare, no fireworks—just straightforward, unadulterated dishes meant to be loved in all their easy glory.
My companion promptly calls dibs on the Duck Confit Pasta, so Raviole Du Royan it shall be, for me. Tiny pillows of cheese and herbs rest atop a rich, buttery broth to accompany. My only gripe lies in the raviole’s exterior, which I wish was more al dente, and hence would’ve held better together. If you’re getting the raviole, just remember to pace yourself so you don’t get all cheesed out, because spoonfuls of ricotta do that to you sometimes.
Out of the kindness of his heart, my companion offers me a bite of the fragrant and umami Duck Confit Pasta, which is definitely a much less cloying option between the two. You’ll find shreds of duck confit, chopped garlic, and spaghetti melded into a sea of yellow, but I assure you that it’s a lot more appetising than it looks.
Our surprisingly filling three-course lunch closes with a Vanilla Pudding, which is crowned as the dessert of the day. The first few bites are a refreshing relief from an otherwise heavy meal, but it quickly gets a tad too sweet for my palate, and I find myself struggling to play catch up. All seven blueberries that sit atop the soft pudding do help to cut through some of that milkiness, but I ultimately throw in the towel and let the sweetness envelop me.
Today, I conservatively withhold my ‘Chef’s Kiss Award’. Nothing quite made it to the hall of fame from The French Ladle for me, and the overall experience wasn’t anything more than acceptable.
The French Ladle’s charm is truly unique, to say the least. Also, you can’t go wrong with a glowing set of user-generated Google reviews. If anything, it is places like this that remind me that, at times, perseverance and sheer hard work are crucial in maintaining longevity and presence in food-dense Singapore that’s more often than not, fickle.
Sure the food might be beautifully acceptable, but in times like this, acceptable is what keeps you in business. Too much hype and unrealistic expectations grow; too little hype and you struggle to be noticed. That space between average and praiseworthy is what keeps business afloat, much like where The French Ladle sits. And that for me, is praise enough.
Expected Damage: S$35 – S$63 for the executive set lunch
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 3 / 5
The French Ladle
2 Pandan Valley, Singapore 597626
2 Pandan Valley, Singapore 597626