Sunday, September 20, 2015

Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare, Tras Street

I was debating over whether to put up this entry, so now we know how that particular debate with myself ended.

Gattopardo Ristorante di Mare (34 Tras Street, tel : +65 6338 5498) is the same as the Gattopardo previously located at Fort Canning which I had visited twice. Run by the same Lino Sauro whose specialty is southern Italian styled cooking. They've relocated to this current spot, rebranded and made some changes to their food. The current setup was more upmarket than the previous and pizza had been taken off the menu.

Even though I am no expert on that brand of cuisine, I'm pretty sure I won't be getting the same kind of food as the ones here if I were in that part of Italy. On both occasions, I have had mixed feelings. Today, I've finally gotten off the fence on how I feel about them.

Something that they didn't do previously was amuse bouche. But maybe there was a need to keep up with that upmarket status and perhaps also to justify why the menu has gotten more expensive. This was ricotta foam on rice crackers and paprika. The rice crackers wasn't so crispy but the foam was nice.

We liked the chilled heirloom tomato salad. With a little bit of knife skills and some administrative diligence, this was difficult to get wrong. The freshness of the fruit paired with olive oil and sea salt - it was nothing less than refreshing and certainly spoke nothing of the skills of the kitchen. I just wanted to be sure that the last part of the previous sentence got through as a point to be made.

Figs were in season so it was some figs and prosciutto di Parma. I wished there was more of that nice ham. The figs were not bad, but somehow, we've been having difficulty finding the same flavour from figs since that time at Valentino's. While this was nice, it wasn't as good as that. Again, we were yet to see what came out of the cooking since we've been eating imports so far that hasn't been further processed beyond what could have been done with a blade.

I was initially excited over their fregola. With sea urchin sauce and no less. In that excitement, I had been imagining a clean looking fregola infused with sea urchin bits/sauce/whatever. Certainly didn't expect the dish to be so tiny and it looked like it had been in al forno. This particular pasta tasted of crab and cheese. And yes, we were disappointed. 

As I had said earlier, I'm not an expert on southern Italian, so maybe that's their take on sea urchin sauces.

The menu described the busiate to be accompanied with zucchini flowers and bottarga. Small portions aside, there was no zucchini flowers. Leaves perhaps and probably enough zucchini to form an eighth of a gourd. No flowers. That those little sprinkles over the top does not constitute bottarga. Or otherwise, we would have to add a "pepper" at the end of the name of every dish wouldn't we?

We inquired with the wait staff about the portion and the reason we were given was because it was prima platti portions. When inquired further about a large plate of vongole pasta over at the neighbouring table, the response was that it was because that was an off the menu special and all linguine came in larger potions. And hence without proper explanation, we poor customers were expected to know all these things? I smell something here.

Some crespelle infused with orange liqueur and orange jam. The jam was non-existent and the pancake tasted underdone. For all the pretentious sprinkling of crumbs to beautify the dessert, this tasted worse than an amateur cook's attempt. It tasted like it was made by someone who didn't know how to cook at all.

The EVOO cake fared better. That being said, it looked better than it tasted. The menu mentioned poached fruit and ice cream. Obviously, there wasn't a single piece of fruit, poached or not in there. Ice cream?  It's just cream. No ice. But the cream was kinda nice and the rosemary perfume was a good idea. Still, I found the slightly chewy dense texture of the cake odd for a dessert. 

I will not come back and I'm striking this restaurant off my list for good. This place may work for people with a extra money to spend with not enough sense to spend wisely and possibly for those to impress a date who doesn't know any better about good food.

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