Stepping off the street brings you into the Boulangerie Fritz, where you can buy house-baked breads, pastries and bonbons and order take-away sandwiches. There’s a small counter to one side where you can sit and consume your food, Parisian-style. Or you can opt to have it in the dining area of the restaurant, where sandwiches are served with fries and a side salad, and attract a service charge. (Tip: Breads and pastries are 50% off after 7pm daily.)
You have to go through the Boulangerie Fritz to get to the Brasserie Fritz, with its stylishly chic, informal dining area. A soaring ceiling spans several floors and beautiful brick-work walls framing enormous arched windows impart an old-world charm to the place. Terrazzo flooring, classic bentwood chairs and sofa seating with diffuse lighting from scattered lights high overhead, supplemented by globe lamps, complete the cosy décor.
Upstairs, on a mezzanine level overlooking the dining area, is the cocktail lounge and the breakfast buffet area for guests of WOLO hotel. Brasserie Fritz inherits the style and good taste, without the manic, fantastical colour and energy of Mr Chew’s Chino Latino Bar on the top floor of WOLO, which is no coincidence, as the crew behind Mr Chew’s is responsible for Brasserie Fritz.
The menu reflects a laid-back style, with breakfast from 7am to 11am, all-day dishes, and more formal fare for lunch and dinner. Familiar French favourites such as Beef Bourguignon and Duck Confit, and the adventurous Beef Tartare, are mixed with more eclectic items (Fish and Chips?), with a separate section for the Seafood Counter.
Service is quite good, although the wait staff need to be more comfortable with explaining the menu. Warm baguette slices with cold coins of salted butter greet the diner. From the Seafood Counter, Steamed Crab (RM28) was two portions of crab meat on sections of cold tofu, topped with crispy nori and treated with XO sauce — a delicate appetiser of cold and warm, crispy and soft contrasts.
The Seafood Salad (RM38) was another clever combination: finely-cut cabbage, green beans, endives, cherry tomato, wakame with fresh, firm prawns and curls of squid, making for a contrast of sprightly, springy, crunchy and raw textures harmonised with sesame dressing.
There’s plenty of red meat on the menu, but health and environmental responsibilities pointed to the Mussels à la Fritz (RM38) comprising black mussels, choucroute and potatoes, in a creamy mustard-tarragon broth with a section of sourdough toast. The mussels were small and fleshy, not the large, green-lip mussels which can be chewy and a little dull. The broth was mild and luxuriously rich, with little treasures of sauerkraut and cut potatoes to accompany the lively-tasting mussels.
Fish à la Nage (RM45) featured grilled patin (a kind of freshwater catfish) fillet with scattered mussels, and assorted vegetables in an orange, creamy sauce. Patin is usually encountered steamed, with good reason: the fish has a delicate texture that does not lend itself well to bring grilled. It came across as being rather flat with an undistinguished texture. Was that why the nage was heavily oversalted — to compensate for the fish? A better choice of fish, and a moderate broth, would have done justice to the preparation and the otherwise finely-prepared vegetables.
The restaurant makes its own ice-cream from fresh milk, eggs and cream, so an ice cream dessert (RM16 per scoop) was a foregone conclusion. The Rum and Raisin ice cream, topped with Chantilly cream, was beautifully smooth and luxurious, enough to forgive the mild-to-vanishing rum flavouring, with embedded raisins. Pineapple Tarte Tartin (RM25) promised more decadence with a topping of star anise ice cream, which was stellar, never mind that I couldn’t detect any star anise other than an imagined tingle, but the caramelised pineapple ring was very much overdone, to the point of bitterness, on a thin, hard crust. Next time, just stick to ice cream.
The atmosphere is chic, with old world charm, the service is good, the idea fresh and exciting, and the house-made items are very good. High marks for the menu choice and ambition, freshness, quality of ingredients and presentation, but there are some rough edges in what would otherwise be a very pleasant dining experience, for some of the food needs fine-tuning.
Ground floor, WOLO, Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL. 03 4065 0876. Daily, 7am-1am. This article first appeared on May 14, 2018 in The Edge Malaysia.