Ola! Last week, I saw next to a lady for dinner and she commented that she is a fan of food blogs. "Oh really?" I said, "my brother runs a food blog".
"Who is he?"
"No, I don't recognize him."
"Oh, Colin" I said, "Oh Colin!" she said. "I've met him...very tall and skinny, doesn't look like a foodie!"
While tall, I am increasingly not skinny. And yes, I am Colin's sister, Weylin (our parents had a thing for alliteration), the inheritor of this food blog while he is away in England suffering the trauma of a student budget. So, hurry on back ye readers, we have lots and lots of food reviews lined up, local restaurants as well as reviews culled from my travels abroad. While not as sardonic as my brother, I am perhaps more frank, given that I haven't a care what chefs think of me (as long as they don't spit in my food).
And so we kick off with a review of the new baby in the Dempsey Cluster, Fabbrica. A restaurant so new that Chubby Hubby hasn't reviewed it (and I know you will think that's trite but really it's not that untrue).
Fabbrica serves up Italian food in what can only be described as a cute if campy environment, a converted warehouse with high ceiling and an open glassed frontage. It's casual, moderately prices (especially for the pastas) and in a to-be-seen spot. What else do you need? Oh yes, good food.
In a word, I think Fabbrica will be a success. The price points are fairly affordable although not cheap and the food quality was decent, although whether that will be consistent is a whole other question. We had a large dining group and ordered quite a lot of dishes, so I think we were good for a comprehensive review, although the restaurant had run out of lobster and mozzarella.
The soup of the day, pumpkin soup was a bit thin, I thought I could have done better, to be honest. The salads were mediocre, though stuffed with ingredients to distract you from the fact that you were eating a salad. We tried the Arugula, Pear with Tomatoes and Parmesan ($16) and Crabmeat Salad with Citrus Dressing ($16).
The rock melon in the Prosciutto with Rock Melon ($20) and the Lamb Prosciutto with Rock Melon ($20) though, was wonderfully sweet and the prosciutto and bresaola (which for some reason, the restaurant called Lamb Prosciutto- its not really) were suitably salty. The presentation was also charming, with the rock melon partially skinned and butterfly-ed, I appreciated the attempt to jazz up the old staple.
To me, the best beef carpaccio I've had in Asia was in Otto Ristorante Italiano, Area 8, 6 Cowper Wharf Road or Finger Wharf, Woolloomooloo, NSW (thinly sliced but boy what a dense, mouth-full flavour) and I'm a bit of a carpaccio addict, scarfing up the stuff at Buko Nero and Rief and James.
The Raw Beef Carpaccio with Arugula & Shaved Parmesan ($18) didn't look beautiful from the outset but it had a delicious flavour; I was pleasantly surprised. Then I turned over the carpaccio and the mystery was revealed! Under the slices of carpaccio, they had spread a thin layer of seed mustard! Tricksy tricksy! But appreciated, nonetheless, it was still excellent and the parmesan cheese was flavourful as well.
Most of the mains we had were pastas, with the exception of the Poterhouse Steak (500gm) served with side salad ($60). Let's start there. The beef was chewy. So it's alright if you like your beef chewy but I like mine tender. Also, I felt that if the beef was already sliced so thin, it really shouldn't be all that chewy. The chargrill was well done and adequately smoky, it's just that I don't think the beef was of very good quality.
Generally, the pastas were alright but just alright. I am picky about pastas, I am. Even my dad keeps asking me- "Why do you always like the thick ribbony ones?" The reason though, is because those are the ones, unlike spaghettis and linguinis, that really showcase the quality and texture of the pasta. Unfortunately, their specialty dish, Home-made Pappardelle with Duck Ragout ($20) fell somewhat short. The pasta was not so bad, although it wasn't light and I didn't finish it but the pasta sauce was somewhat Chinese...not in a good way. In a slightly starchy, off-white sauce sort of way; there were medium flesh coloured floating islands of unidentifiable meat and carrot flecks. I probably am doing it a disservice with such an off-putting description - the taste wasn't that bad but it wasn't characteristically duck and I was disappointed.
My complaint about the Squid Ink Spaghetti with Lobster in light tomato emulsion ($32), here done with crabmeat, is that it wasn't really Squid Ink Pasta, it was Pasta with Squid Ink (and yes, there is a difference). The taste was passable and pleasant enough but it wasn't powerful. I much prefer the version at Ristorante Da Valentino at Rifle Range Road, or even Yuan's version down at Brown Sugar at Stardust, Institution Hill, River Valley, or at Marmalade Pantry.
There was though, one standout. One pasta, and I don't often say this, that stood head and shoulders above any pasta that I've had recently and for which I would gladly go back to the restaurant. That's the Spaghetti with Bottarga & Caviar ($28). I'm not exactly sure what their take on Bottarga is but the roe on the pasta looked like a mix between caplin and sturgeon and the flavour in the pasta, the mix of savoury, salty and slightly eggy, textured and lightly herbed, made one high in the head and happy in the heart.
We didn't have desserts because we'd brought a cake for my Dad's early birthday. The dessert menu consisting of a chestnut semifreddo, fruit flambe, panna cotta and other similarly italian-inspired desserts is entirely priced at $9 each.
A throughly enjoyable dinner and now I know exactly what I'd order if I went back. Not bad, not bad at all.
The service was good, especially from the servers; I appreciated that they knew how to pour a tasting of wine and not a cupful, although I thought the maitre d' was a bit abrupt in announcing which foods weren't available and giving some unnecessary answers back when we enquired about particular dishes. The owner though, Roseita Awang, was very gracious in taking our reservation (clearly, she has equity stake) and UOB card holders enjoy a 15% off ala carte meals and wine by the bottle.
18B Dempsey Road, tel: 64797808