Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Off-key Soprano

Situated in an elegant black-and-white colonial house near the tranquil and aspiring-to-be-bohemian Wessex Estate along Portsdown Road, and surrounded by lush greenery, Soprano seemed so promising and inviting, especially at night when the warm lights glow and the place is filled with the chatter of patrons and subdued tinkle of wine glasses and cutlery. Hence, despite the negative reviews on hungrygowhere, I just had to check the place out for myself.

Lunch started off with bread served with an assortment of pickled pearl onions, bell peppers/olives/mushrooms, and pickled caramelized shallots. I enjoyed nibbling on the condiments, fairly unusual since most Italian restaurants only serve olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Most unfortunately the bread (french bread) was cold, despite the fact that there were only 4 or 5 occupied tables in the restaurant. A harbinger of what was to await us?

The menu was thick and confusing, with pages upon pages of different types of pastas (linguine, tagliatelle, ravioli, lunette, and more that I cannot remember the names of), with each pasta type followed by a listing of different permutations of accompanying sauces, which were just purely repetitive. We spent a good 10 minutes deciding what to eat. Finally I decided on the Lunette al Tartufo (or moon-shaped ravioli filled with cheese and truffle paste), since I love the earthy scent of truffles. The accompanying sauce, which was recommended by the waitress to go with the lunette, was a creamy Al Funghi Porchini e Tartufo (porcini mushrooms and truffle oil in creamy sauce). My friend T had the Rettangoli al Salmone (Rectangles filled with Salmon), with a sauce of Al Salmone e Caviale (Salmon Cream in creamy sauce and Caviar).

We didn't have to wait long at all for our pastas, which came out within 10 minutes of ordering. The descriptions on the menu had sounded really good but the food was only average. The servings were very generous, with a large heap of well-stuffed and plump ravioli, which were al-dente if a trifle thick. However I could not really smell the fragrance of the truffles, and the creamy sauce was also too heavy to go well with the ravioli (this was partly my own fault for listening to the waitress instead of going with my instinct of having the brown butter with sage). The salmon ravioli was more salty than we would have liked, but otherwise fairly serviceable and generous with its salmon stuffing.

The good part was the affordable pricing, at $17 each for our pastas. Strangely, Soprano does not have set lunches, which we found mystifying. But no matter anyway, since we decided not to order dessert and decamped to Laurent Bernard the Chocolatier next door. Which turned out to be a huge mistake, with horrendous service and an expensive and super disappointing over-cooked warm chocolate cake with no lava left in it (this is a standard item, no excuse for massacring it).

All I can say is that it's a lucky thing that I have lunch at Aoki(!!) later this week to look forward to. Ha! I can feel my mood perking up already!

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