The good Lord only knows how desperately I need some joie de vivre and la dolce vita right now. If only I could, I would just pack my bags and hop on the next flight out to the southern parts of Europe, to an area that hugs the shoreline of the Mediterranean Sea. What I’d give to just spend carefree days (weeks or months too!) traveling through and experiencing life in the region that spans from the sun-kissed Spanish coast to the furthers islet of the Greek archipelago on the azure waters of the Aegean Sea. But, sighs, that’s just day dreaming at its best right now.
The next best thing to do, seeing how flying away is not an option, is to head out for a quick taste of its regional culinary offerings at the newly-opened Le Midi. Located at the definitive F&B hub that is Bangsar Shopping Centre, this barely one-month old restaurant may just be a baby in city’s dining scene but is quickly creating a buzz for itself. This is all part due to the owners, who are themselves avid foodies and long-time aficionados of Mediterranean cuisine, and their passionate commitment to “consistently provide excellent service, authentic delicious food and superb wine in a fabulous setting“.
The restaurant is named after the colloquial term for the south of France which borders Italy, the Mediterranean and Spain. Our gracious hostess, Melissa Groot, who co-owns the place with her husband also shares that the term le Midi also derives from mi (middle) and di (day) in Old French and mid-day was synonymous with the direction of south because in France the sun is in the south at noon. It was also the perfect time of day to kick-back and have a drink. As if on cue, the restaurant’s handsome mixalogist comes over with a few of his unique cocktail creations.
As we sat and enjoyed our drinks with the stunning vista of the KL as the backdrop, we couldn’t help noticing how impeccable the place looks. It seems no bars were hold when it came to decking out its interior. Everything was immaculate from the warm oak flooring, specially chosen designer pieces, right down to the choice of lighting. It all came together in a very chic cosmopolitan meets Mediterranean kind of way. Equally as impressive is the hypnotic and ethereal display of jellyfishes in the middle, dividing the space into a handsome dining area and a more relaxed lounge, providing diners with countless hours of visual delight. Just like how we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the tank the moment we sat down for dinner.
The chef then sends out the amuse bouche consisting of Hummus and Tzatzini, a perfect way to start the dinner given how much these are consumed around the region. Then the man himself, chef Emmanuel Gaudin, brought out one of the biggest platter of fresh seafood I’ve ever seen and placed it on the table. The Plateu de Fruits de Mer de Saison contains some of the best, and I say this with no conviction at all, western-styled seafood. It’s not often we get to enjoy the freshest and sweetest ocean bounty at its simplest form. This southern Mediterranean rendition contains a mouthwatering bonanza of lobsters, oysters, clams, prawns and sea snails served cold on a bed of ice with simple homemade vinaigrette, mayonnaise and Eshire butter. It may seem like an odd condiment to be serving butter instead of olive oil, but it will all make good sense when you slab a chunk of this heavenly butter and let it slide sensuously down your throat together with a piece of lobster. Then wash is all down with a nicely paired fruity glass of William Fevre Chablis Chardonay. Bliss.
One of the stars of Le Midi would have to be its Bouillabaisse Marseillaise, a refined version of a fisherman’s stew that’s traditionally cooked with leftovers from the day’s catch and shared with the entire village. The name of this Provençal dish literally means boiling and simmering and it is exactly what the chef would have to do for a good 3-days in advance. Garnished with rouille and croutons, this bisque is bursting with flavours of the Grecian seas, saffron, star anise, fennel seeds and other exotic Moroccan spices.
Next we were delighted with two almost similar dishes, both in preparation and presentation. The thinly sliced and pounded Carpaccio di Monza with Reggiano Parmesa cheese shavings and homemade pesto just melts in your mouth. Legend has it that the dish was named after the Venetian painter, Vittore Carpaccio. In the 1930′s, a wealthy lady who was a daily customer of Harry’s Bar in Venice, was told by her doctor to eat only raw meat. At the time, it was not socially acceptable for a lady of her status to order “raw meat” at the most elegant restaurant in the city. Apparently a painting by Carpaccio was hanging on the wall of the restaurant, and the waiter suggested Carpaccio as the “code name” for the dish, so she would not be embarrassed when ordering it. How thoughtful. The piquant Ceviche de Pescado is its Spanish fish equivalent, with marinated slivers of rock fish swirled in together with nori seaweed, sparkling lemon juice and fresh basil pesto making this a pretty sight to behold.
The homemade Terrine de Foie Gras Apicius, tasted rustic and very smooth – almost butter like. Nigella would have simply loved this dish. Served together with a spoonful of fig jam, caramelized onions, salad with random droplets of pesto and some toast. Every ingredient is carefully placed on the plate to bring out the different qualities of this otherwise tarty dish. Even the Marque De Riscal Sauvignon, a Rueda region wine, was picked for its expansive lingering floral aroma that lends an air of lightness to the whole experience.
Although the restaurant’s executive chef Emmanuel Gaudin hails from Nice in France, his work has taken him around the globe and his hefty portfolio includes residence at Michelin rated restaurants — at L’Allegro in Nice — and exclusive boutique hotels, including the one Michelin-starred L’Auberge de St Roman de Bellet Le Cagnard in Cagnes-sur-Mer in France. However it is the myriad of simple humble everyday folk dishes from the Mediterranean Basin that has inspired him most and he intend to pay tribute to them during his tenure here.
“There is so much to get inspired by from the Mediterranean countries. We hope to infuse the food of Le Midi with the love, passion and authenticity of the Mediterranean dining experience and to share it with our diners,” he said.
Our dinner ended on a sweet note with the Tirami sù di Toscana “alla Senese” and Crème Brûlée with Provençal Orange Blossom Flavour, definitely an apt tribute to the region the restaurant draws its inspiration from.
Prices here varies from affordable to top dollars, and so are the wine. You may want to reserve this for a special evening, especially when it comes with possibly the best KL skyline in the whole of Bangsar.
Note: Thank you to our Melissa for graciously hosting us and a hearty congratulations on the 1st month since your opening. Our special thanks also goes out to Dinesh of BSC for hooking us up. Too bad you couldn’t be there to join us. And thanks to Frat Mustard for coming to my rescue with his picture of Chef Wan and Melissa! Cheers.
Lot T3, 3rd Floor
Bangsar Shopping Centre
285 Jalan Maarof, Bukit Bandaraya
59000 Kuala Lumpur
Tel: +603- 2094 1318
Business Hours: Opens daily from 11am until 1am on weekdays and 2am on weekends.