Olivier Bendel is no stranger to introducing European cuisine to the local foodfront. After all, he’s spent nearly a decade overseeing a plethora of French, Spanish and Italian restaurants around Singapore – L’Entrecôte at the Customs House, Soufflé on Duxton Hill, and Forlino at One Fullerton, to name a few.
But BTM Mussels & Bar isn’t just another strike off his list of authentic European food experiences. The classic pairing of mussels and fries, otherwise known as moules-frites, is a throwback to Bendel’s first major foray into food, way back when he worked with the Léon de Bruxelles chain of restaurants in France. There, he forged strong relationships with some of the best mussel producers in the region – bonds that seemed to come in extra handy when taking the French comfort food across continents.
At its core, the BTM concept is simple: seasonal mussels come in portions of 500g (S$36++), 750g (S$48++) and 1kg (S$58++), served with a hefty side of fries. For now, the kitchen uses live Bouchot mussels, air-flown in twice-a-week shipments from Parcs Saint-Kerber in Cancale, Brittany. Smaller than their Asian counterparts, Bouchot mussels are sweeter and denser in flavour, robust enough to stand up to strong flavours like bacon and curry – which explains their surprising capacity to complement the assertive nature of blue cheese in the Au Roquefort.
And as if Laska-flavoured soufflés weren’t enough, the Thailandaises confirms what we already know about Bendel’s versatility with notoriously rigid French cooking, replacing milder flavours with punchier notes of kaffir lime, coconut milk, and chilli.
Though we’d love to try every one of Bendel’s 250 original mussel recipes – only seven of which are currently on the menu – a virgin experience would not be complete without first trying the infallible Marinières version that reverts back to classic flavours: white wine, butter, and parsley.
BTM also offers sharing platters, small plates, and flambéed flatbreads to top of a long list of wines, cocktails, and summery fruit-infused beers. Kick off a meal with cheese, charcuterie, or even a keto-friendly KETOman Platter (S$48++) of artisanal sausages. Our favourite sides include the Escargot Tartes Flambées (S$26++), which comprise generous amounts of sweet caramelised onions piled atop earthy buttered escargot, and Holland-styled Bitterballen (S$8++), which entail fried balls of thickened beef stock and and roux – simple and delicious.
It’s an intense menu, and certainly not one for part-time dieters and the health conscious foodie. But with pillowy-soft Jamon Croquettes (S$12++ for three), juicy Mussel Fritters (S$18++), and Free Flow Draught Beers (S$48/S$78++ for 90 minutes), we’re willing to let our diets slip for a few creature comforts.
BTM Mussels & Bar is located at 5 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089591, p. +65 6690 7562. Open Mon-Tue 5pm-11pm, Wed-Thu 12pm – 11pm, Fri-Sat 12pm – 12am.