Sunday, May 23, 2010

Singapore - Gattopardo

The Garibaldi group’s newest venture at the Fort Canning Hotel is Sicilian-inspired Italian with hints of Japanese delivery via a catch-of the-day counter where you can peer (it’s not quite eye-level like Japanese restaurants) at the seafood chef at work, although the seats at the counter were empty. 

Service was a little tardy at first since after we were shown to our seats by the attractive host, we were left twiddling our thumbs for about 5 minutes before we could no longer resist the temptation to ask for the menu and for a bottle of sparkling water to quench my thirst after 3 hours of tennis. 

After the bread bowl was delivered however, service took a sudden turn for the better and was attentive but not intrusive.  And the bread was actually quite good, soft but dense with a good bite.  After we polished up the first lot, including the flavoured bread sticks, they refilled without hesitation.

Our starter of the Amberjack sashimi with Uni Vinaigrette was a refreshing start to the meal.  Served on a bed of crisp chopped up salad leaves with bits of citrus sacs from an orange, the burst of flavours of textures was delightful and certainly a sign of better things to come.  A light hand ensured that the creamy freshness of the Uni came through and not being overwhelmed by acid.  Fine bits of sea salt on the serving plate added to the authenticity of the dish but again, not being overly salty.  Only complaint, the chef was not sashimi grade and there was a bone or 2 which we had to pull out of our mouths discretely and the knifing skills since parts of it was too chewy.  But I won't belabour the point since it isn't a Japanese restaurant.

Our pasta of “holey” spaghetti with Bottarga roe, seaweed, bread crumbs, fresh sardines, plump golden raisins and pine nuts was another clever play on textures and flavours.  Retaining the taste of the Sicilian sea where the sardines hail, their freshness and sweetness were enhanced by the other ingredients.  My only complaint is a real one but I thought a regular spaghetti or linguini would have been better in picking up the flavours.  No great impact to the overall taste though.

The piece de resistance of the night was their signature seafood stew which is easily one of the best I’ve ever had.  Again a light but flavourful stock ensured that the flavours of the fresh seafood was not interfered with.  Fresh cherry tomatoes stewed rather than the overly robust plum tomatoes were used.  The quality and variety of the seafood sautéed in garlic and white wine before a quick boil to seal in flavours from the stock cannot be critiqued.  The tiny mussels which I love, clams, perfectly-done squids, snapper and the oilier Chilean sea-bass made for a perfect, hearty and comforting dish to come home too.  And add to that, 2 perfectly grilled pieces of toast flavoured with good butter.  Just heaven.

Perhaps the most disappointing was the signature Tiramisu.  It was “ok”.  I thought it was way too creamy and one-dimensional.  It’s “ok” if you crave Tiramisu but we should have tried the Sicilian special of the Cannolo, which was recommended, or stuck to one of my favourite Southern Italian desserts of the Rum Baba, especially since you can’t really find them in Asia very much. 

But there will be a next time, since Gattopardo is a wonderful add to the local Italian restaurant scene.  And the fact that it is open till late is even better!  No need to turn to local hawker food only at midnight!  And seafood with a light hand is what any hungry and tired body needs.  If you are not a seafood fan, fret not, they have meat specials for the Carnivore too.  

11 Canning Walk
Fort Canning Park
Singapore Tel: +65 6338 5498

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