Saturday, June 25, 2011

Review: Gaia

A new Italian restaurant has recently opened its doors at the Goodwood Park Hotel, that beautiful grand old dame of colonialism on Scotts Road.

Named Gaia, for the earth (which, incidentally, being Greek, is a rather strange name for an Italian eatery), it is one of the latest residents to occupy the side of the hotel facing the carpark as you enter from Scotts Road (previous denizens being Thumper and Bice), and is run by the same good people behind Oso Ristorante, who are clearly in expansion mode.

The interior of the restaurant, it must be said, is lovely. Upon entry, you are greeted by an arresting bar, before walking past a long corridor that fills you with an endless sense of space and comfort.

The dining room itself is no less charming; there is a good mix of classic dark woods, white tablecloths and impressionist artwork, contrasted against the more contemporary glass wine cellar (with private dining room).

Where it counted the most, however, I thought Gaia fell somewhat short. To be fair, I was only there for lunch and could only sample a set lunch menu, but if a restaurant cannot manage a set lunch that is a serious concern.

The carrot soup, to start, was too thick for my taste, and (what amounts to almost the same thing) not very well-blended: I could feel carrot bits being caught in my teeth, and I found a sliver of some onion skin as well. Despite the drops of chilli oil on its surface, this soup failed to excite.

The linguine vongole was cooked with tomatoes, which is not that common for the dish, but was, I thought, a worthwhile addition, for the linguine took on a more complex character with a sunny, fresh sweetness. Unfortunately, as my father observed darkly, the meat of the clams fell away from the shells rather too easily, which was, he said, normally a symptom of lack of freshness.

Dessert was a multi-layered chocolate mousse with almond toast - a very pretty affair that was also a little difficult to eat with a spoon, because the mousse offered so little by way of resistance. The mousse was enjoyable enough, though I would have preferred the chocolate somewhat darker.

Overall, I was a little disappointed with what Gaia had to offer, although to be fair there is only so much that can be on display during a set lunch. Perhaps, as with any new restaurant, Gaia requires a little more time to truly find its feet, but until then, I will probably be sticking to Gordon Grill when I'm at Goodwood Park Hotel.

22 Scotts Road
Goodwood Park Hotel
Tel: +65 6735 9937

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