We are familiar with Solaris Dutamas, having dined at the nearby Nathalie’s Gourmet Studio. Despite that we still had a bit of trouble locating Millesime. Currently there are no assigned parking spaces for the restaurant. During the week the adjoining car park servicing the offices and shops is very full. Today almost every vacant position was reserved for a unique car registration. We eventually found our destination having made a detour through the art gallery, spotting Paranoid Android and Nomad Gourmand going in the opposite direction.
Upon arrival we were warmly greeted by the maître d' by name (being the only reservation for lunch today). We were escorted to the table of our choice and presented with the printed “Lunch Menu”. Spotting Max Chin in his civilian clothes, issuing instructions to shopfitters who were executing finishing touches to his new premises, we had to double take both the menu and each other as we were seated. Our hearts sank, the reality that Max wasn’t cooking and that we were not being offered the “off menu experience” that we expected almost had us prematurely excusing ourselves from the premises in disappointment.
I think our puzzled expressions and saddened glances at each other alerted the maître d' to our quandary. We sought clarification as the last thing we expected to see at Millesime was a set lunch menu. Albert, the maître d' explained that the lunch menu was designed to cater for nearby office workers and suggest the degustation menu would still be available to us should we have time. We had all the time in the world. Things were looking up. We quickly informed him of our intention not to take the lunch menu and of my post confinement dietary limitations (no shelled seafood).
Suddenly it was game on – degustation menu for two with no shelled seafood in sight.
A degustation menu is widely recognized as a “carefully put together menu of various foods, focusing on the gustatory system, the senses, high culinary art, and good company." It usually showcases the chef’s signature dishes in one sitting. Regrettably , the only thing present in our degustation meal today was good company.
The printed degustation menu presented to us was as follows:
Marlin Fish Fillet layered with smoked oyster and remoulade
Piquillo Pepper with crabmeat and saffron aioli
Unagi fillet with duck foie gras terrine and cauliflower mousseline
Roasted French Quail with glazed chestnuts and morel cream
Valrhona bitter sweet chocolate soufflé with amarena ice-cream
Our first course arrived, a salad of sautéed avocado with orange vinaigrette, which to our dismay was an item directly off the set lunch menu which we had clearly opted out of. Earlier when reviewing the lunch menu I had striked out 2 of the choices due to shelled seafood content and had commented to Hubby that I had no real enthusiasm to eat avocado salad. This turned out to be a very uninspiring dish to be served on a newly opened kitchen’s degustation menu.
I told myself not to be disheartened, but when the next dish arrived, Haloumi Cheese with beetroot, my heart sank even further. It wasn’t exactly awe-inspiring. Although I had enjoyed haloumi cheese at Max@iHaus, there was something missing from today’s combination.
We were now greatly looking forward to our unagi with foie gras, thinking that we would be getting this dish next, as it did not contain any shelled seafood. However, we were deeply disappointed to be served smoked duck breast with mushroom ragout. Stand alone it was in fact a good dish, but where was my unagi and foie gras? We don’t recall telling them we couldn’t eat unagi or foie gras. Again, the smoked duck breast was conveniently something off their set lunch menu .
Just before our main courses arrived, we realized that we had not been served any amuse bouche, which is included with the degustation. We signalled the maître d' over and after conference with the kitchen their story was that they planned to serve this to us after our duck course. This was a pretty lame excuse, we all know an amuse bouche is served at the start of the meal. It appears the kitchen had forgot to serve the amuse bouche. But how could they have forgotten – we were the only 2 diners in there, it was not like they had a lot of orders to deal with this afternoon.
To make matters worse, the amuse bouche served was seared tuna with marinated clams. Up to this point, each course was described in detail when it was served to us, but the amuse bouche was sheepishly placed in front of us and introduced simply as ‘your amuse bouche’. Served on a fork, the amuse bouche was attractively presented in such a way that the clams were actually sandwiched between the tuna, so we did not notice it immediately. Additionally, because it was bite-sized, we immediately popped it into our mouths without second thought. However, some overspill remained on the plate, which I recognized as "clams". Hubby didn’t quite believe it was clams (since we specifically said NO SHELLED SEAFOOD and hence the reason why we were on a revised degustation menu) so we signalled the maître d' again to pose a simple question “What is this?”, pointing to the clam as we asked. He replied “marinated clams”, to which we replied “Isn’t that a shelled seafood”? To say the least, our already below-par lunch had now become a farce.
Our mains were up next, Roasted French Quail and Lemon Baked Cod Fish. I didn’t enjoy my quail, I felt that it was too tough. My passion to review the food in front of me had desserted me. Hubby’s cod fish was slightly better but it only equalled the Dory we have been accustomed to receiving at iHaus as part of their RM25 set lunch.
We have encountered this dessert, Varlhona bitter Sweet chocolate soufflé before at Max@iHaus and we can’t fault it. We were also served an additional complimentary desert, Glazed plum with yoghurt ice-cream, again another item from the set lunch menu as an apology for serving us shelled seafood. It’s ironic how everything we opted not to eat today kept appearing before us.
On our drive back after the meal, our minds were cast back to The Star article which we reread upon our arrival home. To quote the article:
“Gone are the days when you get to thumb through a menu and take 30 minutes to decide on a main course. Because at Millesime (which means “great vintage” in French), you will literally be given no choice”.
We chose not to eat the set lunch but in the end, we were effectively given no choice...
We asked not to be served shelled seafood but again we were given no choice...
What if you don’t agree with the chef’s choice of the day? With a shake of his head, Chin ensures that will never happen. Anything served in Millesime will be a “guaranteed meal by Max”. If you have qualms over a specific ingredient, like beef or duck, you can always inform the chef beforehand.
Max introduced himself to us before quickly vacating the premise prior to our meal commencing only returning as our mains were being presented at the table, this was hardly a guaranteed meal by Max. We made it clear to the maître d' that we did not want shelled seafood but the kitchen staff blatantly overlooked this. What if my reasons for not having shelled seafood was due to a serious allergic reaction?
If your concerns are catching Chin on a bad day, don’t worry. “If I’m angry, I just don’t cook,” he says. And you best let him have his way.
Today must have been a bad day for Max as he certainly wasn’t cooking, or even closely supervising his kitchen. Our meal suffered as a result.
For the first week, customers will be able to determine their own price for the food served. Chin plans to use this as an “experiment”, while the money collected will be given to charity. “Pay what you think it’s worth,” he says.
We were left wishing we had gone on the “charity week” and had the choice of paying what we thought the lunch was worth today because it was not worth the RM 300++ we paid.
As a restaurant which markets itself as “first of its kind in Malaysia’ we expected every course to be a winner. I would return to Millesime in the near future only if I know that Max is cooking or at least closely supervising in his kitchen on that day. If we knew today that we were going to be served courses off the lunch menu as alternatives, we would have simply ordered the lunch menu and not the degustation menu.
Despite our experience today we wholeheartedly respect what Millesime aims to offer and we recommend that you do make a visit when you can. There is no doubt that Max is a great chef as we have enjoyed many lunches at Max @ iHaus. We rolled the dice today and fully expected to come up with two sixes unfortunately in Max’s absence his staff rolled out a pair of twos.
Opening times: 12pm - 12am.
Price: RM55++ for 3-course set lunch. RM150++ for 5-course degustation menu.
Location: Millesime, G1-01-3, Level G1, Menara Kencana Petroleum, No.1, Jalan Dutamas 1, 50480 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Tel: 03-6211 0648
GPS Coordinates: 3.1711, 101.66583