[SG] Restaurant Week | Gaia Ristorante & Bar at Goodwood Park Hotel

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Eighth year in the running of Singapore Restaurant Week, it is basically a week where restaurants serve up a special 3-course menu at fixed prices, making generally expensive quality restaurant dining a more affordable fare.

While popular participating restaurants were being snapped up real fast (like fully booked or available during weekday lunches/awkwardly late dinners), we ended up with Gaia which offers quite a good spread, though we could only manage to get a 8.45pm dinner slot over the weekend. 

The specially designed menu was particularly tempting and we visited with highly anticipative spirits. Greeted by excellent service upon arrival and guided right till we got our seats, it was quite an impression made from the start. We were then welcomed with these crackers and bread before our dishes were served. 

I would have preferred it more if the bread were slightly toasted prior to serving, in order to retain the crispness and soft warm insides. It was a tad stale by the time we'd tried it but I enjoyed the bread crust that was slightly more toasted and remained crisp.

This was quite an interesting mix of colours with different flavours including squid ink for the black piece. While the thin slices were good with just a subtle flavour, we didn't quite like the ones that were more porous that went soft. 

On to our menu for Restaurant Week proper! 

Veal tenderloin with warm tuna sauce and crispy capers

Coming as a starter, I found the tuna sauce too overpowering that it masked the veal tenderloin that was supposed to be the star of the dish. It was a tad too strong to start with, though the celery slices helped add a refreshing touch to it. 

This wasn't exactly to our liking but we were impressed with their staff's service in noting that and took the initiative in making special arrangements for us.  

Grilled Hokkaido scallops in saffron cream with a dash of coffee powder

Off the original menu, their manager Ian arranged for this as a replacement. I'm a fan of scallops and this certainly won me over. Grilled to perfection with a viscous saffron cream, the savouriness was enhanced by the coffee powder that gave just a slight bitter edge to it, yet a heavenly combination. This was one that I could not get enough of for sure! 

Deep fried egg yolk with parmesan cheese and spinach

Rich flowy yolk oozed out as we carefully pried open its golden crust, basking in all the photographic glamour. With the flavourful parmesan for that savoury touch, I liked how the portioning was just appropriate before it became too overwhelming, though cheese lovers might beg to differ. The crust could have been crispier though, for that needed texture variance in this dish.  

Double-filled ravioli with Parma ham and parmesan, 
with balsamic reduction and white balsamic foam 
(Photo credits: Jia Wei)

Thin layer of egg pasta dough to seal the flavourful insides, I thought this was one that didn't quite go well in the course with the prior dish being of parmesan base as well. Nonetheless, it was one that had been nicely executed and I'd liked the sharp balsamic flavour for a twist.

Lamb rack with celeriac puree

This probably wasn't the most appetising one with a thick layer of visible fats atop. While it was tender, it wasn't quite the melt-in-the-mouth type I was expecting especially after having tried Dibs. The celeriac puree hadn't lived up to expectations either, being simmered for too long.

Roasted black cod with sundried tomatoes, capers and olives sauce, and potato puree

I'm a very visual person, and this certainly didn't look very palatable regardless of the angle. A whiff of the sauce made it worse with resemblance to the smell from flight food served. Perhaps it was the creamy touch that came after two consecutive dishes of cheese, the sauce didn't quite sit well with me, though the black cod had been roasted well with a nice crisp touch to it.

Tiramisu Cloud

(Photo credits: Jia Wei)

While I would expect Italian restaurants to have good tiramisus, this certainly fell below average for me. Lacking in textures, it was just monotonous with every mouthful with seemingly too much cream. I was half-expecting that what lies beneath might come as a pleasant surprise, only to have dug my way in to find that what you see is really what you get. Subtly flavoured with just the cocoa powder and crumbs sprinkled, I would have preferred if there was probably a base infused with strong coffee for that awakening contrast. 

Poached pear in red wine, yoghurt and star anise sauce, with gingerbread chocolate ice cream
(Photo credits: Jia Wei)

I thought this was quite an acquired taste with the different flavours combined. It didn't quite work for me, as I found the gingerbread taste in the chocolate ice-cream too overwhelming and the yoghurt being too sharply sour. It was probably an intended sharp contrast for the adventurous, though the slight bitterness in the dark chocolate ice cream was the redeeming factor for me. I'd loved the plating of the dish though, with the yoghurt thoughtfully crafted to mirror that of the plate design. 

While the food didn't quite live up to expectations given that it was awarded one-star in the Dining City Guide (under Restaurant Week) and had included an surcharge of $20, we were impressed by the impeccable service standards. Highly attentive with their warm hospitality, it's certainly made our dining experience more enjoyable.  

We aren't sure if these are the usual standards or perhaps the selection due to Restaurant Week, this was nonetheless quite a disappointing one for us. Given the impressive service, we would return on a separate occasion to have a taste of what its regular menu would be like.

Overall Verdict: 6.0/10

Gaia Ristorante & Bar
Goodwood Park Hotel 
22 Scotts Road
Singapore 228221

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