Updated: 19 Feb 2014

Time Out says

February 2014

For all of Topshelf’s clout and neighbourhood appeal, it really isn’t very good. We ambled into the semi-casual French restaurant on a Friday night; the atmosphere was inviting and, at the time, Christmassy. Yellow lighting, clean floors and contemporary furniture: it’s evident that the owners of this place have little interest in primping. It’s not a bad thing surely, what with so many restaurants failingly attempting to recreate the country of its cuisine (guys, Jalan Telawi will never look and feel like Tuscany).

In KL, comfort French cuisine is sometimes overshadowed by frilly hotel restaurants conjuring experimental dishes using haute French techniques. Most chefs want to cook pork in a sous vide machine or make foam emerge from their desserts; a precious few restaurants attempt the equally respectable classics – the rich stews, the terrines, the well-stocked cheese boards. Topshelf, meanwhile, kicks up a no-fuss (albeit limited) menu that pays tribute to some of France’s oldest dishes.

We ordered what we thought were the right things, beginning with a platter of baked snails smothered in a thick basting of butter and herbs. Theoretically there’s nothing wrong with a sauce of garlic and butter, but the snails were overcooked and had lost their bounce, turning them into a soft, herby mush. Most of the mains were drowning helplessly in rich sauces. The coq au vin almost hit the mark: the chicken was braised in a mildly acidic Burgundy wine stew, but something was missing – a dash of seasoning maybe. The beef ribs were submerged in a bourguignon stew that passed the test, but alas, the ribs were possibly stale or undercooked, and served distressingly, painfully stringy. The duck confit was profoundly forgettable and the bouillabaisse, though not the best in the city, was Topshelf’s best effort at pulling off French. Our stew was served with a dollop of rouille and a few measly shells of clam, mussels and prawn, while the insignificant amount of saffron seemed to bypass our taste buds completely. We suppose RM43 for a Provencal stew doesn’t justify premium quality in this part of town.

At dessert time, apple tarte tatin called out to us. The oven-baked pie appeared at our table gloriously hot, puffed and flaky, a treat with the (suspiciously store-bought) vanilla ice cream. The pie itself was delightful but, as we stepped out the door, we realised there was very little else to remember about the experience. Surekha Ragavan



61 Lorong Rahim Kajai 13, Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kuala Lumpur

Tel: 03 7727 7277


Opening times: Mon–Sat, 4pm-12midnight


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Tags: French, TTDI