Tuesday, September 18, 2012

A La Carte buffet brunch @ Dolce Vita

All our dining experiences with Mandarin Oriental Singapore have been pleasant and the most recent Sunday Brunch at Dolce Vita was no exception. I am glad that the restaurant allows babies in the dining premises and I can push the stroller or coax the baby outside the restaurant without much hassle. In addition, the friendly service and the comfy corner the restaurant has allocated to us makes a long meal with an impatient baby comfortable and manageable.

Dolce Vita, Mandarin Oriental

Our first visit to Dolce Vita was 2 years back during Christmas and I would say it was memorable. As the restaurant does not offer the regular a la carte menu on weekends afternoons, we have no choice but to opt for the a la carte buffet and we didn’t regret it. On top of that, the restaurant is located at the poolside with views of Singapore’s skyline, featuring the Singapore Flyer and the Marina Bay Sands, indeed dining in the day and night provides a very different atmosphere and I have to say both has its beauty.

Dolce Vita, Mandarin Oriental

I am not sure about the majority but at least for me, I am one that goes straight to the main courses or highlights at buffets and leave no room with appetizers and starters. When I visit a restaurant, I will usually stick to a main course and perhaps a dessert. Call this ignorant or lack of exposure but in short, I don’t usually go through a course of starters, soup, main course and desserts unless a set meal. The reason why I said this is because the niche of Dolce Vita’s a la carte buffet makes me dine in this manner and I gave a big thumbs up for that.

The buffet starts with a list of starters serving in an orderly and well-paced manner, allowing one to enjoy the food slowly and appreciate these combinations of small bites. It is indeed a perfect way to slow things down, making the afternoon a laid back one where one gets to enjoy the company of our dining companion.

Traditional Italian antipasti platter

A simple display of cured meats on a plate, these paper-thin slices of meat surprises us with a nice texture and a good distribution of fats. In addition, the meat is not dry nor stringy and the presentation of the dish gives it a visual bang to kick start the meal.

Foie gras mosaic, Timbale of crab, Tartare of Angus beef tend loin & Traditional Apulia burrata mozzarella cheese
The starter platter consisting of (from left to right)
Foie gras mosaic with cranberry coulis, dried fruits and sesame tuile
Traditional Apulia burrata mozzarella cheese, served with vine-ripened cherry tomatoes, sea salt and oregano
Timbale of crab with avocado mousse, accompanied by mango salsa and lemon zest dressing
Tartare of Angus beef tenderloin with quail eggs

Foie gras turns out to be Yuan’s favourite for the rich and buttery texture for the liver complements nicely with the tang of the cranberry coulis and dried fruits; and this is slightly less cloying than the seared foie gras that comes with a bit of crispy fat on the exterior.

The burrata served with cherry tomatoes is refreshing while the beef tartare is tender and well seasoned. Just like my first encounter with their beef tartare, this is not at all “bloody” but actually taste wonderful.

However, it is the crab timbale that steals the limelight among the four. The juicy crab meat is sweet and succulent and when eaten together with the mango salsa, the refreshing twist makes us request for a second round of serving. Unanimously agreed with two of my other friends.

Other starters serve for the afternoon includes (from top left, clockwise),
Veloute of roasted butternut squash
Wild forest mushroom soup
Timbale of crab with avocado mousse, accompanied by mango salsa and lemon zest dressing
Tasmanian rock oysters on ice with traditional condiments
Marinated grilled prawns with romaine salad and spring baby vegetables, marinated with a light beetroot juice dressing
Carpaccio of Australian beef tenderloin with arugula salad, shaved Parmesan cheese and balsamic vinaigrette

The main courses started off with several dishes of pasta dishes, namely (from top left, clockwise),
Homemade green pea-potato gnocchi with prawns and saffron
Orecchiette pasta with spring vegetables and Tuscan pecorino cheese
Homemade linguine with finest selection of seafood, Italian parsley and garlic-olive oil glaze
Acquerello risotto with black truffles

Have to admit that the pasta were not to our liking and made the meal heavy on the carbohydrates, leaving almost no room for the subsequent fish and meat dishes. Homemade linguine was tasty but was also very filling. The sauce for the gnocchi was too overwhelming and I reckon that I am not a fan of saffron since I felt the same towards the Salmon. Orecchiette pasta  earns a thumbs up from Yuan for the addition of Pecorino cheese to the pasta.

However, despite the rants, this also reminded us the meals we had in Italy where two main courses were served. The first being the pasta and the second being a meat dish.

Grilled yellow fin tuna arrabiata style

Grilled yellow fin tuna was splendid in its texture. The varying texture between the seared and raw left an strong impression. With the tuna is nicely seasoned, these juicy chunks of tuna were enjoyed without much fishy smell. Do note that this is not available in the regular a la carte menu and is only served during their weekend brunch buffet.

Main courses
Main courses for the afternoon includes (top left, clockwise), 
Braised oxtail-foie gras cannelloni with baby spinach and Parmesan cheese cream 
Norweigian Salmon with market fresh vegetables and saffron veloute 
Roasted rack of New Zealand lamb with Sicilian style egg plant caponata, sauteed new potatoes and rosemary sauce 
Braised barramundi with thyme scented vegetables and la ratte potatoes 

Braised oxtail-foie gras cannelloni  is one of the signatures of Dolce Vita and the meltingly tender oxtail simply sublime on the palette and goes very well with the baby spinach. Easily a crowd pleaser among the mains.

As mention earlier, the Norwegian Salmon isn’t my cup of tea for the overwhelming sauce which practically masks the sweetness of the fish. For both the Norwegian Salmon and the Roasted rack of lamb, the meat is close to medium rare where the centre part of the meat is raw and we felt that this isn’t very well accepted as compared to the other mains.

Braised barramundi, another dish that earns a thumb ups for its flaky and juicy meat. The freshness and the natural sweetness of the fish makes this dish simple yet memorable. In addition, the potatoes served have a nutty flavor and the cooking is just right without having the potatoes overly hard nor extremely soft and mashy.
Red wine braised wagyu beef cheek with gratin potatoes and wild forest mushrooms

Red wine braised wagyu beef cheek, of no doubt is another main course that warrants a second helping. Just like the Braised oxtail-foie gras cannelloni, the meat is rich in its seasoning and tender that a knife is not needed to slice the meat. In addition, the gratin potatoes served were seamlessly layered, giving this simple potato dish another dimension of presentation and texture.

Dessert buffet

Desserts are presented at the kitchen counter in a buffet format where one can expects a cheese platter, a hot dessert (either bread and butter pudding or rice pudding) and a selection of miniature shooters and tartlets. The selection of desserts is specially put up by Mandarin Oriental’s Executive Pastry Chef Cassian Tan.

Ricotta cheese tart

Do not miss out on the heavenly tiramisu that has chocolate balls embedded with the fluffy mascarpone layer with liquor-soaked ladyfingers and the signature Riccotta cheese tart. Yuan loved the tiramisu the most for the high expresso content.

Though there are hits and misses, this meal is memorable for the way the buffet is served as it allows one to appreciate antipasto before starting the meal proper. Though it was painful for Yuan's pocket, he was satisfied by the quality of the food, the presentation of the food and the pace of the meal. Last but not least, the bulk of the items served in the buffet are available in the regular a la carte menu, allowing one to sample several dishes in miniature portions all in a go.

The weekend Champagne brunch at Dolce Vita is available from 12pm to 3pm every Saturday and Sunday. Pricing as follows,
$108++ per person, food only
$148++ per person with unlimited free flow of Ruinart champagne, house white and red wine, beer, soft drinks and juices
$248++ per person with unlimited free flow of Ruinart Blanc de Blanc champagne, house white and red wine, beer, soft drinks and juices
$488++ per person with unlimited free flow of Dom Perignon 2003 champagne, house white and red wine, beer, soft drinks and juices

We would like to express a big thank you to Director of Communications, Usha Brockmann and Public Relations Manager, Shu Yun to allow us to take photos of the restaurant prior the start of the buffet and the meal couldn't be any much better without the warm hospitality of Assistant Restaurant Manager, Giuseppe Guida.

Dolce Vita
Mandarin Oriental, Singapore
5 Raffles Avenue
Marina Square
Singapore 039797
Tel: 6885 3551


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