This is my second visit to the restaurant in two months. Both time, we chose to eat there before our concert at Compass Ballroom.
Our first visit on 6 April was without reservation but we were shown to an indoor table of four without fanfare. I was on a diet but my companions were ravenous, seeing the amount of food they ordered. Mike ordered his favourite vongole, my brother shared a plate of pasta and a pizza with his wife. After that, they had tiramisu which they raved.
On Saturday, there were three of us and we had a reservation. The menu booklet was gone, replaced by a single broadsheet, which I thought had far fewer selections. The antipasti consisted mainly of cheeses and hams, nothing of the baked veggies I was looking forward to. There were three selections of salad, and I chose the baby spinach salad with pine nuts. My friend P have never been to an Italian restaurant and was indecisive between pasta or risotto. In the end, she opted for the Barley Risotto, probably because the description sounded more delicious. Mike again chose the Vongole, spaghetti with clams and white wine sauce. He doesn’t like Italian meals for its tomato or cream based sauces. I decided to try the tenderloin, despite still nursing a 4-day old tooth surgery. I wanted a soup but the choice between cream of carrot (soup of the day) or mushroom was not to my liking.
The slices of herb bread was served with a tomato dip. I prefer mine with the balsamic vinegar though.
The baby spinach salad ($16) arrived and for the price, the portion was smaller than expected compared to other Italian restaurants. The dark green leaves were lightly drizzled with olive, sprinkled with salt and pine nuts. It wasn’t mixed well and some leaves tasted really salty.
Mike’s Vongole ($26) was nothing spectacular, although the amount of clams were not very generous.
P’s barley risotto ($28) was also a small portion. She was amazed to see that instead of rice, the risotto consisted of real barley. As she is leaving for an Italian summer holidays in two weeks, she was happy to learn something about Italian cuisine before her trip.
My tenderloin ($34), a thin, about 1 cm piece sat on a pile of cooked spinach. I had asked for medium and when I sliced open, there was hardly any pink in the centre. I stopped a passing manager, Mr Boris, and asked for his opinion to the doneness of my meat. He hesitated, before replying ‘medium well to well’. I told him I wanted a medium and he offered to change the dish. I declined as we were rushing for our concert. What he did later was astonishing. He offered to take the dish off the tab. I told him it wasn’t necessary but he insisted. What service!
Mike again wanted tiramisu ($14) and invited P to join him. I wanted other things and ordered the Cioccolato ($12). Boris took our orders. When the dessert was served, we weren’t sure what we were getting. The tiramisu was served in a jam jar (unlike the last time) and my order looked like a scoop of chocolate gelato instead of chocolate mousse as described.
The tiramisu was served with liquor cherry and the whole experience tasted similar to blackforest cake without the cake.
I checked with my companions and they took a look at my chocolate ball and insisted it was mousse. I stopped Boris and asked if this was what I ordered. He shook his head, sighed, and took my bowl of gelato back. It was replaced ten minutes later with this:
Our dinner came to about $130 without drinks and including ++, and excluding my tenderloin. Expect a budget of $50 per pax without drinks if you go.
The food was so so, and service was not up to par. (We waited almost 20 minutes for our bill.) But thanks to Boris, whose service compensated for the mistakes and he made it more pleasant for us than what might have been our last dinner there.