By Celine Asril
21 August 2012 3:49 PM Updated 08 Nov 2012


The half poulét roti, though you might like to get it whole ($28.80)

The front that greets you when you step off the escalator

Rating: 2.5 out of 5

Poulét, ThaiExpress's new mid-market French venture at Bugis+, is the only restaurant on the fourth level of the former Iluma to have a queue; it must be the bright, central space it occupies and the skewers of rotisserie chickens visible from the escalator. The heavy-trafficked day-lit restaurant sees a regular stream of slowing droolers go by; we didn't have the heart to tell the passerby uncle what we were eating looks better than it is.

"The bird itself was so good an elderly diner picked it up with his fingers and licked the bones clean"

If he'd stop to ask, we would have said: the sauces could be less cold, the meats warmer, the fries encrusted in less salt and Poulet should simply call its soy bean panna cotta ($6.80) by its name: tau huay (bean curd), with longans.

The bland, olive-oil-dressed tabbouleh-like Salad de Paris ($9.80) arrived first - a plate of beautifully chopped leaves tossed with a sparse amount of dried cranberries, sliced olives, avocado, tomato halves and roasted pine nuts. This salad could have been given a slight lift with merely pinch of lemon zest; a sentiment that had this family clucking through the rest of this laid-to-share meal.

A mild version of the snail dish - difficult to go wrong with

The Saucisson ($6.80) - four chewy, plump, salty finely-ground garlic and pork sausages in thin orange cases - was decent, as was the chunky house-made fig marmalade that came with it; the accompanying sharply-salty mustard dip was unfortunately redundant. Similarly, the rest of our starters were favourable, unless compared to their orthodox versions; the baguette ($2) was soft, slightly dry on the inside with a flaky, crisp-to-shards crust instead of the tear-able, chewy-crusted original. The escargot de Bourgogne ($8.80) was pleasant in tomato puree and almond-butter - definitely not the heady butter-laden escargots of the French Romantics we were expecting.

Even without the scalding snails throwing us off the curve, few dishes matched up to the right temperatures.

oxtail de bourguignon
The very tender oxtail de bourguignon

The oxtail de bourguignon ($15.80), though extremely tender, was merely slightly warm - its carrot-sweet red wine sauce a lukewarm puddle. The Chardonnay-reduced mushroom sauce in the poulét roti ($15.80) was cool to the touch, which was a shame; this dish of grilled-to-tender half-bird could have been so good. We hadn't the desire to mop the sauce up with our baguette slices.

The only other items in our meal that were appropriately warm were the side of thick-cut fries ($4.80) and the banana bread pudding ($6.80). Both still left us wanting however - the salt-crusted fries had us pestering for more water (which the friendly under-staffed staff saw to quickly) and the pudding needed a little more cream to moisten it, and to cut its sugar.

Even though the meal flapped to the extremes, the roast chicken had us all in happy agreement: it was moist and tender - even in its breast - with thick, evenly-roasted skin. The bird itself was so good an elderly diner picked it up with his fingers and licked the bones clean, savouring it for long, even after his son was done.

If only they serve the chickens on their own - but, that would be an immoderate idea.

In-depth ratings:

Poulet | Address: 201 Victoria Street, Level 4, Bugis+ | Tel: 6509 9411 | Daily 10am-10pm


Formerly food & drink editor at Time Out Singapore magazine, Celine Asril's other previous incarnations include food blogger, cook, and food photographer's assistant. The avid WWOOFer and Twitter-jointed writer has been published on CNNGo, Forbes Travel and in Asian Gourmet and Smile magazine. She is now adding edible codes to inSing.com. Follow her work twitter feed at @inSingFood.

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