When it comes to mussels, BTM is tops
My first reaction to the name BTM was why celebrate being the bottom?
When I met the restaurant's boss - food and beverage veteran Olivier Bendel of Deliciae Hospitality Management group - I found out it means Back To Mussels, a tribute to the roots of his culinary career.
His first restaurant venture was a moules-frites (mussels and fries) place in France 30 years ago. It no longer exists but grew to a 43-outlet chain.
Bendel later moved to Singapore and opened L'Entrecote, Forlino and Sabio by the Sea.
So when he was looking for inspiration for his latest venture here, it was Back To Mussels.
Now that we have got to the bottom of BTM, let us start from the top.
The foundation of the menu here is mussels, naturally.
BTM rotates among four locations for its supplies, depending on the season. It uses the European versions that are smaller and sweeter. Currently, the kitchen cooks live bouchot mussels air-flown from Parcs Saint Kerber in Cancale, Brittany twice a week.
By the time Bendel's mussel restaurant closed, he had accumulated about 250 original mussel recipes and has brought them to BTM, offering seven at a time.
It is simple to order - the mussels come in portions of 500g ($36), 750g ($48) or 1kg ($58), served with french fries. When you are done with the mussels, pour your fries into the leftover sauce and it is another tasty dish to try.
We ordered the classic cream-based Ardennaise and the Au Roquefort, an adventurous sauce with the blue cheese. Both are great but my heart belongs to the Roquefort.
The headiness and umami of the sauce works well with the sweetness of the mussels, and when the fries are soaked in the sauce, it becomes a comforting stew. My gripe was not being able to find a spoon because I would have loved to have it as a soup.
To be honest, if you are not into mussels, you can still have a meal here.The Truffled Porcini Croquette ($12) and Bitterballen ($8) are certainly competent though not memorable.
The croquettes are fragrant with truffle but do not have much of a mouthfeel, and the Bitterballen (with beef and beef stock) is good for when you just want something to munch on.
The Escargot Tartes Flambees ($26) fares much better.
This is basically ingredients on flatbread, but with this combination of escargots and garlic butter, it works and makes for easy eating.
Waffle BTM ($18) has a base of Belgian waffle, with chocolate sauce, vanilla ice cream and chantilly cream on top. Unfortunately, I am not a fan of Belgian waffle so this was already a battle lost.