Friday, May 20, 2005

Review: Da Paolo La Terrazza

If you're wondering why I haven't been updating, it's not for want of material. It's because my ruddy camera is still being repaired, and I am loth to post my previous reviews without accompanying photos.

Thanks to my malfunctioned camera, this post will have no photos. Dad decided to have lunch with me on my day off, which we had at the Da Paolo in Holland Village, one of the many eateries that have taken root in the area.

We were originally intending to dine at Au Petit Salut next door, but apparently Da Paolo trains its staff well enough for one of the waitresses to ask if we'd like to try their set lunch.

For $22, the set lunch covers a starter, a pasta, dessert and coffee; but it goes up to $27 if you choose to have meat or fish as the main course. The lunch menu is severely limited compared to the dinner menu, only four or five choices for starters and pasta. For meat and dessert it's even worse: a choice between two 'meats of the day' and 'dessert of the day' or ice cream. Petit Salut, according to my father who had walked over to see what we were missing, offered six dishes for each course at $22.

Limited variety wouldn't have been too bad if the dishes to choose from were very good, but unfortunately they weren't. It looked as if they had cobbled together the least popular dishes as well as the ones that wouldn't stay fresh and tried to palm it off as set lunch. I had no real inclination to try any of their pastas, and had great difficulty mulling over my starters as well.

Eventually, I ordered the prosciutto and mozzarella starter, and received a big surprise when it arrived. Sitting on my plate, beaming at me cheerfully, was a starter of prosciutto ham, rock melon, kiwi and no mozzarella. I was quite happy to have this instead, I quite like this starter, even though the kiwi was a most unwelcome touch. However, I was most displeased that the chef had taken the liberty of changing my order without even informing me. Changing the order's bad enough, but without the customer being informed or asked is a sure way of losing customers.

To be fair, it wasn't bad (3.5/5), but the kiwis ruined it for me.

My next dish was, I forget what it was called, was a fettucine served with a tomato-based sauce and some pork. It seemed the most palatable among all the pasta choices. Palatable, but not particularly memorable, I'm afraid (3/5).

Dessert arrived, and they surprised me again by changing the order, and again without notice! My father's raspberry cheesecake had magically transformed into a raspberry chocolate mousse. Unfortunately for them, my father is a little less tolerant than I am, and rather sourly inquired how this bit of alchemy took place. The waiters, who had the good sense to appear abashed, explained that the chef had changed the dessert, but without providing any reason for it.

My father decided to change his order, and we both had the ice cream, which was, after all, just ice cream (3.5/5).

Although it is situated in Holland Village, Da Paolo is actually moderately inaccessibly without a car or taxi, as it's quite far in. If you are driving, locating a car park can be a rather frustrating task as they're currently renovating Holland Village in order to make way for the new MRT line, and parking lots are severely limited.

Located in otherwise-quiet Jalan Merah Saga, Da Paolo enjoys and contributes to the convivial atmosphere created by the whole row of eateries in the vicinity. Agglomeration, I think it's called. Of course, this only applies if you go there for dinner. During lunch, it's so quiet you can hear the bread rise. The interior of Da Paolo is uncomfortably warm due to their inadequte air-conditioning, but al fresco dining is probably out of the question altogether.

The service, as you have probably gathered by now, is not exactly fantastic. Any restaurant that repeatedly changes its customers' orders without so much as a by-your-leave is clearly asking for trouble. Extremely surprising, considering how well-established Da Paolo is.

Next time, I'll be going to Au Petit Salut.

Da Paolo La Terrazza (Italian, semi-casual)
44 Jalan Merah Saga
#01-56 Chip Bee Gardens
Holland Village
Tel: 6476 1332
Location: 3.5/5
Service: 1/5
Ambience: 3.5/5
Food: 3.5/5 (assuming you get what you're ordering)
Overall: Perhaps as a last resort

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