Sunday, September 17, 2006

Doing Their Best

Date of Review: 16th September 2006
Restaurant Featured:

Il Lido
Sentosa Golf Club
Bukit Manis Road
Singapore 099892

Tel : 68661977
Fax: 68661979

Hours of Operation:
Lunch : 11.30am – 2.30pm
Dinner: 6.30pm – 11pm

Reservations: Yes
Owner: Beppe De Vito
Chef: Chef De Cuisine Michele Pavanello

I have been eyeing to check out this restaurant since it opened its doors in Feb 06. As a professional in the food industry, its always good to let a new restaurant settle its dust and smoothen all hiccups before doing an honest review. Sadly this is always not the case in Singapore as the local media is always too hungry for new restaurants write ups within 2weeks of opening, throwing everyone working in there with a nightmare to handle an impending crush of curious patrons while juggling with unexpected situations in operations.

Il Lido to me was not just a gastronomic experience, it was one of the best service restaurants i had experienced so far. The occasion was my 3rd wedding anniversary, I had tried to make a reservation as since Wednesday only to be told that it was fully booked. However they were professional enough to put me on a wait list and promised to call back once a table was available before Saturday afternoon. This to me was good business sense for a restaurant which many lack in Singapore. By Friday I had my table confirmed and the restaurant sweet enough to double check my reservation again on Saturday morning.

Turning up at the restaurant on time, we were ushured to the alfresco dinning area. My wife N, preferred the indoor dinning area and I politely reminded them that we had asked for it when we made our reservations. We were given a table indoors almost immediately, no questions asked.

Everything on the menu looks good but my eye had caught sight of the deep fried calamari that whizzed past just before we sat down. Wanting to be pampared, N left the menu planning to me. I opted to choose our appetisers, share a pasta and two main courses.

Without saying I opted for the calamari as starters while my wife prefered the seared scallops. Any good Italian restaurant no matter how refined or basic will always try to offer this perennial favourite as part of its menu. I was not disappointed. The Deep Fried Calamari came with a small serving of cold tomato sauce on the side. Fresh chunks of calamari was lightly seasoned and dredge in flour before being deep fried. One bite, I could tell that cooks were well trained indeed. The calamari was tender to bite, cooked to the right doneness at the right temperature with a thin crisp coating of flour. Dipping into the chilled tomato sauce created hot and cold sensations on the palate with the greasiness from deep frying nicely cut by the tanginess of the sauce. My wife’s order of scallops was also well done with 4 beautiful pieces perfectly seared to caramelization, accompanied with a saffron infused asparagus salad. Needless t0 say, they were gone before I could even finish my own calamari which by the way was really a huge portion that can be shared by two for a starter.Personally i feel that the DFC served at Ristorante Valentino @ Rifle Range Road has finally found its match. I prefer the Il Lido version although Valentino's calamari is also one the best around.

In between courses, we nibbled on olive oil and rosemary crusted crostinis which was a nice change from your regular dough, oil and vinegar fix. Arriving next on our table was the Linguine Pasta with Spiny Lobster in Spicy Tomato Sauce. I could tell that the sauce was based on an Arrabiata idea except that this was no ordinary Arrabiata sauce. My gut feel and experience tells me that the Chef has made the sauce with the addition of lobster shells thereby giving it an extra dimension of crustacean flavour. This really made the sauce extra special and the genrous chunks of lobster meat with al dente Linguine and fresh herbs was beautifully brought out by this wonderful combination.

Moving on, we look forward to our main courses and by now, the restaurant was getting really noisy with a big group that has taken up quite a space. N and I traded places tonight. She took on the the USDA Prime Beef Tenderloin with Sage, Parma Ham, Balsamic Glazed Shallots and Polenta Cake. Her dish was a "Saltimboca" inspired idea. The beef was up to expectation and N loved the sweet and sour caramelised shallots, i found the polenta cake comforting. An unexpected glitch in this masterpiece was that the cook forgot to remove the butcher string that secured the ham around the tenderloin during preparation. It was one of those mistakes that happens when you are on the line gaining experience under tremendous pressure to perform. I have done that too during my earlier years in the trade. Ironically, the Captain for our table tonight was an ex-colleague from Ristorante Bologna in Marina Mandarin Hotel where i did my apprenticeship 17 years ago.

My main course was Crispy Seabass with Porcini Mushrooms, Spinach and Scampi Cream. I had two lovely dill flavoured fillets of line caught seabass filled in between with sauteed porcini mushrooms and baby spinach, rested on a creamy bed of scampi shells infused sauce. A poached baby Langoustine(scampi) accompanied with a fresh sprig of dill made the dish look really fabulous in presentation, simple yet artistic. The creamy scampi flavoured sauce was a natural with the moist fillets, while the porcinis lifted the bland spinach.

Sweet endings to well orchestrated meals are one of the most important criteria in my personal reviews. I don't crave for complex desserts but love simplicity or challenges in taste combinations. We ordered a classic paring of vanilla and dark chocolate flavours. This came to us in the form of Molten Lava Chocolate with Home Made Vanilla Bean Gelato. Besides the familar flavours, there was a interesting temperature difference between hot dark chocolate baked with crispy phyllo pastry and cold vanilla bean flavoured Italian style ice cream. FYI, Il Lido's Vanilla Bean Gelato is flavoured naturally with scraped vanilla pods and you can see little black specks of it in the ice cream. In otherwards,this is the real thing!Definetly not essence based.

My wife, N, has always look forward to a nice glass of dessert wine when it comes to sweets. I ordered a glass of Visanto for her and it came not only with two, but was served on the house. A really sweet gesture indeed!Though we know they were trying to make up for the glitch in the steak earlier, I must say that more often than not, a polite feedback to all service professionals does more wonders than causing loud complaints and uneccessary embaressment to all. Don't you agree?

Congratulations to Chef Michele and his kitchen team for a well orchestrated dinner, Mr De Vito for having the right team in service excellence.

Eat and live well, be happy.


PS. Normally I would love to enclose some pics but we didn't have good lighting for pics at our table.

No comments: