Fans of French dining would be very familiar with Immanuel French Kitchen, a humble affordable French restaurant opened in a coffee shop at Bukit Merah. The immense success of his first establishment led to the opening of By The Fire, yet another humble European restaurant. By The Fire's located in a similar hawker setting, inside Alibabar the Hawker Bar along East Coast Road - wonderful for us Easties.
Scotch Eggs (S$6.90)
By The Fire's been getting a lot of attention for their scotch eggs, and indeed it was those we made the intentional trip for. We loved the perfectly half-boiled egg with its orangey delectable orange heart, the sweet and tangy purple slaw, and the crunchy golden breadcrumbed exterior. What we didn't like was the mince that was studded with huge chunks of chewy fats. We couldn't get through a bite without having to spit something out. S$6.90 for a fancy egg - I'm not entirely sold.
Fried Baby Squid (S$?) - served with Thai chili sauce
Crisp, lightly battered baby squid, served with a sweet and sour Thai chili sauce. I loved how these little bites weren't oily, and were absurdly addictive. It was polished off in no time, and my fave of the meal.
Squid Ink Pasta (S$12.90) - pasta cooked in sea urchin cream, served with scallops
Creamy, rich, and a wee smokey, the al dente noodles are lightle tossed in a decadent squid ink sauce; then topped with bonito flakes and thick slices of fragrant garlic. It was clean-tasting, simple, yet bursting with flavours. While the sea urchin cream wasn't detectable and the scallops forgettable, I love this delicious Asian take on a traditionally European dish and would definitely have this again.
Grilled Hanger Steak (S$19) - Charred onglet steak (200g) served with shallot confit and crispy garlic potato
The steak was succulent and very juicy, albeit slightly overcooked. Yet it was topped with one of the most confused starchy sauce that's smack right between sweet and peppery. The accompanying potatoes, though packed with fragrance, was really dry. It wasn't all that bad, just really underwhelming. And when compared with Aston's just a few doors down that boasts a S$17 prime ribeye, or The Betterfield's S$20 ribeye, By The Fire's doesn't cut it.
While there're about as many hits as misses, the idea of such affordable European food is very appealing. What we tried may not have been perfect, but it has a lot of promise and definitely warrants future visits.
By The Fire
125 East Coast Road
AlibabaR Hawker Bar
Weekdays: 12pm-3pm; 6pm-10.30pm