Tuesday, June 22, 2010
La Strada @ Shaw Centre 2
Recently I was invited to a friend's birthday dinner at La Strada. It was a special menu put together by Chef Darence Wee. For a start, I was not even aware La Strada provided private dining in a separate room...good enough for small parties to up to 12 people. So snug we were...away from the rest of the restaurant and boy did we make full use of the privacy. We had the privilege of a butler for the night who busied himself with the refilling of bread baskets, drinks and detailed descriptions of each dish.
Bubbly to start off the night!
I was most looking forward to these! Chewy pizza slices...simple bites of bliss. Toasty and doughy...mmmph!
The other complimentaries that kept me busy nibbling, parmesan cheese sticks and toasties. A different kind of bread basket at least, away from the usual onion loaves, foccacia or bread rolls.
Selection of Antipasto
For the meal to commence, it took a while of self introduction by the butler (which I very embarrassingly forgot!), menu introduction then followed by round the table choice of doneness for the mains.
The antipasto platter arrived grandly, on a plate so huge...I nearly toppled over. The selection included parma ham and melon, smoked hams, grilled zucchinis and peppers, buffalo cheese and tomatoes, artichokes and olives! Definitely for the vegetable fans, given that the table had quite a few hardcore carnivores I had the luxury of most of the delish platter to myself.
I lost count of the number of times the bread basket appeared but these were sliced perfect for the soup course.
Guazetto di Vongole
Live seasonal clams, cooked in white wine
Truth be told I was expecting a clear broth given "white wine" so when it appeared, there was an element of surprise. Baby clams in a tangy tomato broth. Main grouse, this was not entirely a soup dish given the small portions which left me unimpressed.
Linguine al Gamberi
Live prawns with linguine pasta, prawn stock, light tomato
I've not attempted pasta from La Strada as yet and was most looking forward to it simply because my personal yardsticks of a good Italian restaurant are determined by Pizza, Pasta and Tiramisu. Two friends of the sea doused in gravy that looked like the continuation of the clam soup on a bed of pasta.
Three twirls and a bit more. It was all gone, slurped clean. Handmade linguine with a bite, mega loving that! Oh...the prawns are fresh. Super fresh without a trace of bicarbonate. N-I-C-E. If only someone gave up his portion, I would have gladly taken over.
Bistecca al Fiorentina
Chef's special Australian grain-fed T-Bone steak, accompaniments
I had a good "laugh out loud" moment when the platter arrived. Remember the butler going round asking your choice of doneness? All was presented on a platter...and honestly, how would I know which was my preferred doneness?
T-Bone steak...tender with natural juices but that was really it. That. Not the best I have eaten, not the worst either...it just did not fulfil the "signature" category that it claims. The garnishing was deslish, roasted potatoes, tomatoes and of course, a squeeze of lemon is always welcome!
Panna Cotta con Vincotto
Vanilla pods infused "cooked cream", with vincotto
They wobbled like Jell-O when placed infront of me. I was expecting a whole lot of gelatin but this had an awesome creamy finish. Vanilla speckles made me doubly thrilled. If I return, this would be a must order. Vincotto was featured in the artistic sticky sauce on top, made of dark, sweet dense grape that hails from Italy. I found it slightly sour though.
The choice of tiramisu for the non-panna cotta lovers. Disproportionate portions of cream and espresso soaked sponge fingers.
Lunch at La Strada years back was memorable, fast forward to dinner...it was less outstanding. I would have expected stellar execution for the steak though the pasta was mindblowing good. If a return is on the cards, I'll stick with the pasta and panna cotta.