The cross section of Jalan Bukit Bintang and Jalan Bukit Ismail is hardly a picture perfect postcard of zen. The roads of that junction are often clogged, the visual landscape is a claustrophobic concrete jungle and the whiff of smog lingers in the air.
But step into French restaurant Brasserie Fritz and you’ll be greeted with a vision of elegance and serenity. The two-storey space at Wolo Bukit Bintang was once home to a Korean bakery, but has since undergone a facelift under the hands of Christian Bauer and Eddie Chew – the same duo behind concepts like Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar, Coppersmith and Cantaloupe.
The establishment itself is divided into several sections. Upon entry, there’s a boulangerie where classic French pastries like almond croissants and kouign amann are placed on cake stands, covered with glass cloches.
Make a turn and you’ll enter the dining room – an area that has the feel of a loft, complete with a soaring ceiling girdled by exposed brick walls and large, sweeping windows.
Seating is by way of round tables with chairs for four while booths provide space for larger groups. If you’re just up for a drink though, there’s a bar area with a handsome pewter counter made by Royal Selangor.
The menu itself features a huge selection of nearly 80 items divided between breakfast, little plates, sandwiches, mains and desserts. This can be overwhelming if you’re new to the establishment and cynics might wonder if the kitchen is able to maintain the quality of food given the sheer variety.
As it turns out, such fears were unfounded as the kitchens churned out hit after hit.
To start off, we ordered a quartet of light bites from the little plates section: the patatas bravas (RM26), grilled asparagus (RM48), Hokkaido scallop (RM35) and anchovies on toast (RM18).
All four displayed finesse in the way techniques and flavours were executed. The patatas bravas for instance did not come with the Spanish signature’s salsa brava – a bold move that would put tapas purists into cardiac arrest. In its stead sits a bed of Jerusalem artichoke puree on which rests crispy cubes of potatoes – blanched and cooled first before being fried – and then covered with shaved parmesan. It’s a combination that worked for it proved to be moreish even without the tang of salsa.
The grilled asparagus was a meditation in simplicity, freshness and balance. Here, fat green spears the width of a thumb are grilled until tender, served on romesco sauce and then topped with toasted hazelnuts.
The anchovies on toast is where the intense umami flavour of smoked anchovy and cream cheese meets an interlude of a mildly sweet-savoury maple butter on the crunchy base of grilled sourdough.
The Hokkaido scallops meanwhile provide textural plays on the palate where the springy texture of the shellfish meets bits of almonds in garlic butter. On its side, pickled shimeji mushrooms give a hint of sourness while capers add a savoury punch to the ensemble.
Light as these dishes are, they all demonstrate the length and breadth of techniques that the kitchens deploy.
Nowhere is this range demonstrated more than the fish & chips (RM75) – which at first, might sound as pedestrian as stale bread. The rendition done at Brasserie Fritz is inspired by the robust flavours of Indian cuisine. The cod fish is lathered in thosai batter and served with thick chunks of potato wedges, spiced mashed peas and cucumber raita.
The cod fish is unmistakeably fresh and the sourness of the raita cut through what would otherwise be a cloying plate of deep fried food. In a city where this British classic is thrown about and cooked in the most haphazard way, this is arguably the best plate of fish & chips. It not only demonstrates deft frying techniques (the right temperature is vital to avoid any greasiness) but also for the creative way in which the kitchen deployed Indian flavours to lift the dish.
These dishes are all somewhat contemporary – but what good is calling an establishment a brasserie if it doesn’t showcase French classics just as well?
For that, we ordered the beef bourguignon (RM58) – a rustic beef stew that originates from the Burgundy region of France. The restaurant once again, did not disappoint. The cut used was wagyu brisket, braised in a rich red wine sauce until each piece is tender and yielded to the touch. Carrots blushing a deep crimson provide some sweetness while sliced fresh grapes act as a palate refresher; a break away from the deep bass of the gravy.
Just as you thought that the meal can’t get any better, the restaurant fires the last salvo in its banana split dessert. Again, it might sound pedestrian but this is no ordinary banana split. Here, bananas are deep fried a la pisang goreng with a batter that crumbles more like tempura. This is served with homemade ice cream, chantilly cream and drizzled with salted caramel sauce. If Momofuku Milk Bar had a Malaysian equivalent, this masterpeice will be right at home.
Brasserie Fritz may not immediately inspire as a dining destination. After all, the world has seen far too many French restaurants which try hard but fall flat on their faces.
This spot is an exception. It’s a gem we’d highly recommend to gourmands looking for delicious food in a gorgeous setting right in the heart of bustling Bukit Bintang.
Opening Hours: Monday to Sunday 7am to 1am
Recommended dishes: Beef bourguignon, fish & chips, patatas bravas, anchovies on toast.
Price: RM150++ per person with coffee
Noise Level: Peaceful
Service: Attentive and helpful.