I have seen so many posts on this restaurant that I finally decided to try it. The 'Lunch Unlimited' menu seemed like the best deal, and I decided to try that. The restaurant has a very cool and modern design as you would expect from a newly setup restaurant within the Esplanade. Although I visited the restaurant during the day, I could imagine that the outdoor bar with patio would be a nice spot for evening drinks and dining.
Soft drinks and juices are free flow, as well as the food. They keep serving new dishes until the courses are over, but you can always ask for extra portions of any dish you like. They opened up with a potato salad with beetroot and asparagus. A well presented dish, with a nice combination of textures.
The pasta salad was Japanese style pasta with sesame seed, nori seaweed and a guacamole sauce served on the opposite side of the plate. Nothing surprising, but quite pleasant.
I found the tomato tart a little confusing. The sweet tart base topped with mozzarella and tomatoes and complemented by a sweet basil ice cream was a little bit of a clash of flavours. Being Italian, I believe that there are better ways of combining beautiful flavours such as basil and tomatoes. Well, they tried something different!
The fresh salmon with mango cubes had a smokey flavour and a smooth and firm texture. I thought the salmon was nice, although the mango was more of a decoration than anything else, as it didn't pair up with the salmon. Once again, proposing fusion and innovation is not as simple as it looks...
The squid tempura was without a doubt the worst dish out of all. Quite disgraceful, actually, as you can tell from the picture. This rock-hard, oily lump of batter gave me no reason whatsoever to eat it. Pretty frankly, I can have better deep fried seafood at a MacDonald!
Luckily, the next deep fried dish, the cheese croquettes, was much better. Nicely fried croquettes with melted cheese inside, topped by a sweet chutney.
One of my favourite dishes was definitely the beef roll. A roll of raw, tender beef Italian style, filled with tomatoes, rocket and Parmesan, served on a hot stone. Obviously the more cooked you want it, the longer you have to leave it on the stone. I enjoyed mine as raw as in the picture and ordered another one!
Ranking second for disgracefulness were the risotto and the pasta. I returned them both. The edamame pasta was worse than what I can imagine "spagheddi's" would serve you -although I never adventured myself in there and never will :) It was just a mass of spaghetti, drowned into a creamy sauce that tasted so intensely of garlic I had to spit out my first (and only) mouthful of it.
The mushroom risotto on the other hand, was not what you can call a risotto. I would rather call it a lump of melted cheese. There was no taste of mushroom in that whatsoever, beyond a lump of creams and fat with Parmesan-like taste and overcooked grains of rice emerging here and there... Obviously, these are dishes that you can't really prepare in advance and there is no room for cheating!
On a positive note, the lamb shoulder with polenta was tasty, tender and well balanced by the sauce, herbs and polenta bed underneath. This was a dish worth having!
The red snapper on carrot puree' was also quite nice, although the extra serving that we ordered was a bit salty. This dish consisted in a crispy pan fried fillet of red snapper, served with a sweet and sour think carrot sauce.
The beef brisket with mashed potatoes was my favourite dish overall. The slowly braised meat was incredibly tender and juicy, the sauce was rich and tasty, balanced by creamy and buttery mashed potatoes. I ordered this dish a second time and it was just as good!
The first dessert I was served was a coffee trifle, which included sponge cake, mousse and coffee ice cream topped by caramelised rice crisps and milk foam. I enjoyed this dessert the most out of the three. Cooling, nice textures, light.
The pineapple crumble was a combination of diced pineapple topped by ice cream and crumble. I am not a big fan of pineapple or crumbles, so this was definitely not my 'cup of tea'.
Finally, the well presented chocolate cake was a rich, thick and intense chocolate cake topped by a chocolate sauce and served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream decorated by a wafer of white chocolate. This was a nice cake, although I was so full when this was served, that I just couldn't afford to have more than 2 spoonfuls of such a rich cake... what a shame.
The total bill, including all the dishes described and free flow of juices, came up to a total of $87.10 for 2 people. At about $44 per person, I would say that this is a reasonable deal. You won't love the whole range, but you are served a reasonable variety of dishes and it can be fun tasting them one by one if you are with the right company. However, I doubt I would go back for this. For the same price, I can have a lunch at places like Cassis or Petite Salut (also reviewed on this blog), and although you don't get 14 dishes, you can have 3 well made dishes and you will walk away well satisfied. Personally, I would rather have 3 quality dishes made with care than 14 dishes out of which 4 are bad, 8 are so-so and 2 quite nice. However, I am not discouraging you to try this place as it's good to have a such new offering in Singapore, and I am sure there is a public for it.