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When was the last time you set foot in an Italian restaurant – any chance of it recently? I cannot remember mine but quite certain I haven’t had for a good few months. I relished most of the pasta dishes cooked in the kitchen of some fusion restaurant. These days, I cannot stop my counts on the number of new sprung eateries, mostly fusion and almost far from its root of origin. Should we be overjoyed at the trend? Or get upset over the lost authenticity. I don’t know.
Everyone has their inner most to feed – some prefer the traditional cuisines whilst there are those who cannot do without a twist to the original. Whichever group you belong to, a meal is a meal that critically measures the suitability of that moment in time. Do you agree with me that at times, your mood plays a part in deciding your most desired choice, a psyche dish to bring solace.
I accept the culinary creativity of today’s chef – ranging from an independent classic dish or a union between the Japanese & Italian heritage. I applaud at their bold magical stint in the making, their willingness to rediscover things that they have been taught, perhaps during their apprentice days. It is very encouraging to see them breaking away from the norm to please the crowd who is becoming more finicky in today’s world. Though I believe in Italian dishes cooked in its old traditional way, I welcome younger chefs who practice neoclassicism to woo diners with cutting edge menu - Covelli Italian Bistro & Wine Bar, is a pit stop to seek reminisce of true Italian taste (I thought but turned out otherwise) with a contemporary twist.
The restaurant week, a bi-annual event in Singapore (March & October); coax me into dining at Covelli.
Deeply rooted at the basement of Orchard Central, Covelli has cooked for many for the past 1 year. You wouldn’t missed the iconic laddering escalator along the mall’s exterior, very architectural. A direct route access to level 4 and higher level where most restaurants sit. But those who are frightful of heights, please stay away and use the elevator in the mall instead.
I am greeted by a friendly serving staff who led me into the restaurant that comes with an alley, separating the main dining area and a more private meal room joining the bar area. My table sits privately along the stone-featured wall, bathed in mood lighting with a dazzling but modest chandelier above. I rest comfortably on the padded chair, feeling the velvet seat cover on my skin. The male server who attends to my area was alert and ready though I wish having no one staring at me round the clock from a distance. Having said, I still appreciate his presence around me.
He showed me the menu designed for the restaurant week which prior to this, I have seen.
I was smitten by the creamed stock with artichoke and eggplant finishing. The spoonful of crab cheese cream inject a delicate touch. The addition of the black truffle oil perfumed the soup with a bit more fragrant while the croutons gave a crusty bites that awakened the jaw muscle cells.
The tuna carpaccio was far from my expectation yet the lime sorbet excites me greatly. The kamquat oil creates a light acidity which helps to mask the fishy taste in the paper-thin sliced tuna. The meat taste uniquely different from the usual tuna sashimi I had in any reputable Japanese restaurant – if you get my point. The dish has loads of zing in it, if not for the tuna.
With only 2 options in the main, we ordered both for exploration. The pork is braised in root beer until it becomes wobbly. This resulted in a moist and shattered meat. The lean portion is seen clad in between thick jellied fats that allows an almost creamy texture. Excellent eaten in small bites but to wolf down 2 massive slab like that was clearly a challenge – for a lady. The spinach gnocchi (in Pork dish) and calamari ink spatzel (in fish dish) was identical in texture. Both tasted rubbery and sterile. I remember mopping up flavorful gravy of coq au vin with the spaetzel at db Bistro Moderne but not here. The dish didn’t allow me as it was served dry and so, the glutenous morsels remained flavorless except its faint cheesy elements. I guess they exist to fill the empty gastric cavity.
If you insist asking what the Pan-seared Nile Perch resembles, it will be a home-cooked dish which my mum used to whip up every dinner. The deep fried fish was the least unusual to any taste buds. The crackling fish skin helps accentuate joy in eating the seemingly humble dish. I liked the fish for its freshness and appreciate the sea-urchin mango flavoured mousse for that gentle shake on my shoulder.
The Italian feast didn’t rock my palate, but it ended with a sweet note.
Pretty to admire, the plating was attractive. It reminds me of the flourishing spring with a touch of petal embellishments. Purple, yellow, pinkish hues whisper melodically, at one time chorusing and inviting me to join in. The cake – pigmented in gutsy red, was a pure enjoyment. Made using highly nutritious beet, I am more than pleased to take on a few more mouthful. I had expected it to taste earthy and raw, but was impressed by its fabulous end result. I loved the natural flavour from the beet and the extremely moist cake texture it yield. It was quite disturbing at first to learn that the cake was made using olive oil as I didn’t like the idea of tasting sharp olive oil in my dessert. I was surprised that there was no traces of it but a subtle sweetness from the garden beet. Chunks of chocolate mascarpone are making the dessert even more addictive and bits of those dark chocolate shavings were not wasted as well. Everything was packed in harmony and deposited in my almost exploded gastric pocket. Though sinful, I would definitely eat more of it for a youthful look if the claim for anti-aging benefit in the beet is valid.
If my maiden attempt at Covelli didn’t convince my palate, its service team won me over. I am prepared to return for a proper selection from its menu and most critically – it is the Dark Chocolate Lava cake that is waving at me!
Let your taste buds decide if you had an enjoyable Italian meal, at least I had a fine dessert to make it up.
Date of Visit: Oct 18, 2012 Other Ratings: