Singapore, July 18, 2012
Parco Caffè @ Raeburn Park
Where: 10 Raeburn Park, #01-28, Singapore 088702 (Tel: 6223 6338)
Setting: The gorgeously designed chic restaurant, resplendent with indoor foliage and a freshness in the ambience, is located at the entrance of a commercial building, formerly Gan Eng Seng School. The park (Parco in Italian) theme flows seamlessly throughout the different sections of the restaurant which also offers courtyard dining at its heart.
Hidden by Spottiswoode Park and near the railway track, it seems like an off-the-beaten-track, but it's actually very near the bustling CBD area.
Must-nibble: Italian chef Antonio Massagli from the Tuscany attempts to entice diners with the simple flavours of authentic Italian cuisine, but you can also find some local dishes too. He has worked in dining establishments around the world, from New York to London and Genova.
Apart from lunch and dinner, the cafe also offers wine and tapas every day. Weekend brunch offers good breakfast items like scrambled eggs with truffles (yeah, more please), egg roulade with oysters, homemade breads, gourmet signature panino and cheese burger.
The must-try is angel hair pasta tossed with a deliciously briny sauce of mullet roe and tobiko eggs, and dressed with slices of succulent abalone. "In Italy, we call abalones sea snails," explained the chef, who also had a stint at popular Prego restaurant here.
Other worthy bites: Everything with Italian truffles, especially when they are in season. Enjoy this luxurious fungi with the creamy Burratina cheese with Japanese momotaro tomato, arugula and balsamic reduction. Or have them shaved generously over the tortelli dumplings stuffed with Wagyu beef cheek and served with Taleggio sauce.
Beef fans might want to share the 500g of sliced Taglita all Fiorentina with shaved parmesan. The green apple sorbet will end the meal on a refreshing note.
When to go: Mon to Fri, 11.30am to 2.30pm; 5.30pm to 10.30pm. Sat, Sun and PH, breakfast from 9am to 4.30pm; and dinner, 4.30pm to 10.30pm
How much: For dinner, starters range from $14 to $35. And mains, $25 to $30. Pasta and mains cost below $20 for lunch.
Hosted On The Patio
Where: 991B Alexandra Road, #01-10, Singapore 119970 (Tel: 6276 7337)
Setting: Tucked in a corner of a former ITE building, it is a rustic-looking bistro with a bar expanding into white-washed patio and a lush backyard. Homey, country vibes invite wine lovers, families and even couples wanting to tie the knot in an unpretentious setting. Popular with workers from nearby offices on weekdays.
Must-nibble: Simple bistro fare that's enhanced with gourmet touches when it holds a wine dinner. On normal days, you can start light with an Atlantic Crab Salad before going for the parmesan-topped Penne Vodka, its richness enhanced by a rose sauce that's flambe with the liquer.
For dinner mains, you can grapple with the chunky Coffee Pork Ribs dusted with coffee 'soil', or the braised lamb shank which is served with a mint-scented risotto. The beef tenderloin deglazed with marsala wine and cream calls for a hefty red wine.
Other worthy bites: If you want a simple lunch, go for the spaghetti mushroom aglio olio or the smoked duck linguine. Don't miss the Kahlua-spiked tiramisu. The fruity strawberry lychee and rambutan freezes are great thirst quenchers on a hot day.
When to go: Mon to Thu, 11:30am to 2:30pm; 6pm to 11pm. Happy Hours: 6pm to 8pm. Fri to Sat,11:30am to 2:30pm; 5:30pm to 12am. Closed on Sunday.
How much: Pastas range from $18 to below $30. Most mains cost below $30
Where: Block C, Goodman Arts Centre, 90 Goodman Road, Singapore 439053. Where Lasalle used to be located and opposite the Tanjong Rhu housing estate.
Setting: The restaurant and wine bar by Michelin one-starred chef-owner Michele Sorrentino from Tuscany is a gastronomic gem hidden in somnolent Mountbatten.
Called The Boat in Italian, the elegant yet homey restaurant with an outdoor lounge and overhanging flattened sails is a unique dining destination.
It recently won the Award Of Excellence for ‘Best New Restaurant, Western’ by The Peak magazine of Singapore Press Holdings.
Must nibble: The chef, who used to own the Michelin award-winning Antica Trattoria Botteganova in Siena, is a master of refined and beautifully plated Italian cuisine with a classical bent.
His baked eggplant parmigiana (above) is simply to die for. Relish a whole mouthfeel of melt-in-the-mouth eggplant with assertive yet balanced flavours of mozzarella, basil and tomato sauces.
You might also fall in love too with his milk-fed veal tartar with truffles and salt-cured egg yolk beautifully shaped like jellied petals.(Cover photo)
The chef's rendition of salted cod (above) is exquisitely whipped till light and creamy with olive oil, and partnered with potato crisps.
And it's no ordinary piece of fish - it's a premium slab of cod imported from Portugal.
Also try his homemade pastas like the Tuscan Rici with a robust lamb ragu (above) and potato gnocchi partnered with sweet crabmeat. (below)
If you're a fish and potato fan, dive for the fresh seabass fillet (below) covered with 'scales' of crispy, potato crust, and sitting on more thinly sliced potatoes, pan-roasted to a crisp.
Other worthy bites: Don't miss the thin-crust pizzas, like the one with handmade sausage. End with a refreshing dessert, like the icy lemon parfait with strawberry sauce.
The fine selection of Italian wines from boutique wineries will prolong your fascination here.
Move around the restaurant to enjoy the full experience - first have a drink at the bar area, then move to the table for your meal, and lastly, linger with more drinks at the leafy lounge outside.
With some unique Tuscan dishes here, there isn't a place like this in Singapore.
When to go: Tue - Fri: Open from 10.30am. Sat and Sun: Open for brunch from 11am. Kitchen closes at 10pm. Open for coffee and drinks between 2pm and 6pm. Closed on Monday.
How much: Starters from $15 to $30, Pasta, $22 to $30. Mains cost around $30 to $35.
Where: 10 Winstedt Road, Block E, #01-17, Singapore 227977 (Tel: 62256690)
Setting: Located in a corner of the former Monk's Hill School premises, it is an intimate, glass-covered bistro with a bar lounge.
Hugged by greenery, it is ideal for all meal times and casual afternoon tea, and offers the right mystique for evening chill-out and romantic dinners.
Must nibble: School's out - don't be fooled by the academic looking menu. Expect bistro cuisine with haute touches and twists by capable chef Vincent Teng, formerly from Table 66.
Try his crispy-skin duck confit with sweet tamarind sauce, Pork Belly with crackling and prune sauce (above), and Oyster Skyvefella (above) with Iberico ham, parmesan crumbs and chive sauce.
The amicable Beef Tartare (above) is seared and topped with an egg yolk infused with truffle and miso flavours.
For dessert, the Hazelnut Chocolate Cake of nutty mousse, chocolate caramel cream, crispy feuilletine and cherry coulis provides a multi-layered sensation.
Other worthy bites: Don't miss the delectable breakfast items of sous-vide-poached eggs for Eggs Benedict (cover photo), served with grilled portobello, and Ricotta Hot Cakes (above) with passionfruit butter, maple syrup, bananas and almond flakes.
Stretch your weekend with drinks like the dark cherry mojito.
When to go: Open daily - 10am to 12am. Sat, Sun and PH brunch - 10am to 4pm
How much: Appetisers from $14 to $24. Mains, $32 to $40.
Dark Cherry Mojito - just the right thing to slurp on a warm day.
Where: 30, Victoria Street, #01-16, The Gallery, Chijmes, Singapore 187996 (Tel: 63325868)
Setting: Traditional sushi bar in the restored, neo-classical Convent of the Holy Infant Jesus built about 130 years ago.
Now known as Chijmes, it has become a labyrinth of eateries and watering holes.The sushi bar is cloistered in a corner of a back row of shops behind a wall facing North Bridge Road.
Must nibble: Ask for the season's best for sashimi. The tuna belly from southern Japan and white tuna (marinated in soy) from US are melt-in-the-mouth delicious. So are the sweet geoduck, also from Japan, and flounder with truffle oil.
As for sushi, pick finger morsels of smoky, torched salmon, Tai (seabream), tuna akami, and delicately knotted gizzard shad.
Other worthy bites: Homemade sesame tofu with sea urchin (above), Ayu sweet fish, deep-fried to a total crisp (below), and seabream head cooked with radish in a homey broth.
The multi-course meal with the chef's choices is a good choice.
Tatsu Sushi's teppanyaki restaurant is located next door. Door miss the deliciously rich Saga beef steak (below) and king prawn in buttery, mayo sauce with garlic crisps.
When to go: Open daily,12pm to 2.30pm; 6.30pm to 10.30pm
How much: $18.80 to $30.50 for set lunch. Lunch omakase course, $70 and above. Dinner, $100 onwards.
Click on the thumbnails below to see more pictures (SoShiok.com copyrighted) of the restaurants and their food: