October 6, 2011 at 10:00 am
Dining out has become quite an impersonal and distant affair, one where the customer walks in and expects to be served like nobility for an evening; confronted with dishes that offer nothing new nor different to jaded tastebuds. It has been relegated to a mere transaction where the customer selects, buys, and pays, while the restaurant prepares, cooks and serves.
The good news is knowing that this will never happen at That Little Wine Bar. This boutique wine bar and lounge is definitely in a class of its own, sitting snugly along Jalan Chow Thye, in historic Georgetown, Penang. What makes this place good? Nothing. What makes it great? Everything.
You see, That Little Wine Bar is not your typical restaurant nor wine bar, it does not seek to impress its customers with glitz and glamour, nor does it sacrifice quality for quick profits. It offers an intimate and special experience, a journey expressed through the culinary delights painstakingly prepared by Chef Tommes, the man behind That Little Wine Bar.
…We can always drink the stock…
That Little Wine Bar came about as a result of Chef Tommes and his wife, Louise’s search for a place to share a glass or two of wine in relaxation, without the need to dress up for an evening at a restaurant. Opening a restaurant, however, was not on Chef Tommes’ mind, as he had no desire to for the adrenaline packed days that was a hallmark of his time as Head Chef of Shanghai’s famous Stiller’s Restaurant Cooking School.
Still, the idea of having a place where people could just kick back with a glass of wine and watch the world go by was too hard to pass. So with the assurance that they could always polish off all the wine should their venture go belly up, the couple opened what became known as That Little Wine Bar.
… I’d save up the entire week just to buy a slice at the end of it…
At That Little Wine Bar, Chef Tommes shares his understanding and views of the world through the food he prepares. Painstaking attention is paid to every detail, from the proper ingredients, all the way through the preparation and finally, to the serving.
Each dish has a story behind it, and some, like the Poppy Seed Cake, serve as sweet reminders of memorable moments in his life. The dishes he creates are reflections of his personality, and perhaps in their own way, windows into his soul.
I was lucky enough to get a sampling of what That Little Wine Bar has to offer. And I was amazed.
My evening began with soups as appetisers, accompanied by slices of freshly baked french baguette. Soup here is served with the respect it deserves, with the soup’s fresh ingredients placed in bowls before the hot soup is poured onto them. The tomato soup was hearty and refreshing, while the wild mushroom soup, a variety of mushrooms served in a clear parmesan and herb broth, was light and flavourful.
The crusted beef tenderloin, served with mushroom royale, special mash and red wine sauce is one of the mainstays of the menu. Quite a mouthful to mention, but every mouthful of it was wonderful. The beef was succulent and tender, and was complemented well by the sauce. It comes as no surprise as the sauce takes several hours to prepare using a double reduction process.
The other main course for the evening was black cod with pommery sauce, served with cauliflower puree and vegetables. A delicate dish that offers a lovely blend of flavours, with the subtle taste of cod merging so well with, but not overwhelmed by, the pommery sauce.
Dessert was warm apple filo pillows and poppy seed cake. The warm apple filo pillows is Chef Tommes’ little twist to traditional apple strudel, and if you try it, do take note of the homemade macadamia ice-cream, with real nuts mixed into vanilla ice cream. The sweet flavour and texture of the poppy seed mixture makes the poppy seed cake a memorable way of ending the evening.
The poppy seed cake has a special place in Chef Tommes’ heart, and it is not hard to see why he still can remember when he first tasted it as a young child, so many years ago. Perhaps it was one of the reasons that led Chef Tommes on his amazing journey into a world of culinary wonders and delights.
For an evening of pure simple pleasure, step into That Little Wine Bar, dine, enjoy a glass of wine, and relax as you let the world just go by.
That Little Wine Bar is open from 5 pm till midnight every Monday till Saturday. For reservations, call +604 226 8182 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Tags: Chef Tommes, Fine Dining, Penang Restaurants, Restaurant Review, Reviews, That Little Wine Bar, Wines