14th November 2013.
In the earlier days of food blogging, before the celebrity restaurants in Marina Bay Sands or Michelin-star background restaurants hit the town, Bonta which opened in 2007 was a rather well-known Italian restaurant, like both the former French Kitchen and Le Saint Julien as well as the equally historical Absinthe and St.Pierre which provided the finer side of dining in town.
Unfortunately Bonta is taking an extended holiday. However, Chef Luca Pezzara, a very experienced chef who begun cooking at the age of 14 and hails from the Bergamo in Northern Italy is bringing some of the classics from Bonta back to District 10 Bar and Restaurant located at UE Square. Visiting District 10 Bar and Restaurant was like visiting two familiar friends, I remember the time when District 10 used to be at Winstedt Road and it’s the place to go for the occasional treat such as their fish and chips and crème brulee. The restaurant has an alfresco and in-door dining area much like the former District 10 but with a fresh new facelift by Italian designer, Alessandro Lo Giudice (Associated Designers and Architects). They were the same group of people behind the design for Level 33 and OTTO Locanda. The interior is best described as classy but with a hint of casualness and most importantly, acoustics is good for chatting quite like the former District 10 at Winstedt Road.
District 10 Restaurant and Bar has a huge range of alcohol but I am not an alcohol person. Therefore, if you are like me and prefer sharing something not too strong and widely enjoyable, the D10 Punch (34++ SGD) which is a blend of Moscato wine, Crème de Cassis, Dark Rum, Apples, Strawberries, Mixed Berries and Ginger Ale and serves 3-4 people is highly recommended. They also have other special concoctions such as the Dragon Buster and the high deceptive Kopi Singapura which (as its name suggests) looks like an innocent cup of kopi but it is actually whiskey, Frangelico hazelnut liqeur, Kahlua and cream.
The meal started off with a Bonta essential and favourite that is now a complimentary bread at District 10, the “bread in a cup” or “soufflé bread” but officially known as the Bread with Walnuts, Sundried Tomatoes and Feta Cheese. This complimentary bread lives up to its reputation. Served warm along with a mix of pesto and olive oil, this is the perfect comfort food especially during the current rainy season.
Next up is a classic Italian salad but instead of usual combination of tomatoes + mozzarella + basil, the ‘caprese’ here is a combination of Burratina Cheese, Sun-dried Tomato Puree, fresh cherry tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil (18++ SGD).
There is also the amazing Wagyu Beef Carpaccio with Mustard Dressing and Sautéed Wild Mushrooms (18++ SGD) which came with a strong aroma of mushrooms (suspected that they had truffle oil in this dish too). The combination of the tangy Smoked Scamorza Cheese, fleshy aromatic mushrooms, savoury balsamic vinegar, earthy rocket salad and the smooth slices of wagyu works very well for me.
If you prefer something more indulgent, there is the Pan-Fried Goose Liver with Wild Berries Sauce and Balsamic Syrup (20++ SGD). I am not a fan of foie gras but I have to admit that Bonta-District 10 did quite a good job pan-frying the piece of goose liver. I thought it was just nice and the once again, the play of varying textures, such as the combination of the smooth, creamy foie gras (with its delicate fried edges) and crisp worked pretty well. The foie gras used here is from Rougie. For more information on Rougie's Foie Gras you can read it here.
However, among the appetizers, I think I am most impressed by the Green Asparagus, Fried Egg Sunny Side Up, Sage Butter (18++ SGD). It is a very simple dish of perfectly cooked green asparagus and fried egg and the addition of shaved cheese which gives it as slight hint of saltiness. It is a little bit on the oily side but I will have this dish for brunch or breakfast any day.
On to the mains, there was the Homemade Foie Gras Ravioli, Light Parmesan Sauce and Scamorza Cheese (34++ SGD). This is a very rich and creamy dish. If you are into the creamy sort of pasta, you will like this luxurious pasta dish with foie gras.
The Crispy Goose Leg Confit, Roasted Garlic and Soft Potato Mousse (29++ SGD) spots an excellent crispy skin without the hint of oily aftertaste. It is my first time having a goose confit. For this dish, I thought the flesh come across as a little dry and the potato mash was on the dry side too. Otherwise, the meat fall off the bone without much effort and skin was good.
The Homemade Capelli d’angelo (Angel Hair Pasta) with Lobster, Peperoncino, Basil and Fresh Tomatoes (38++ SGD) is an old favourite from Bonta and one of their best-selling dishes. In retrospective, I think the chef broke convention by using the delicate pasta with a heavy gravy-like sauce which usually goes with a penne or conchiglie. As expected when pairing angel hair pasta with a thick tomato sauce, it was moister than your usual pasta and it tends to clump together in chunks. However, the result was that the thin pasta actually gets more of the sauce in between each other. Anyway, pasta aside, the lobster was good.
The star among the main course was the Signature Black Angus Beef Striploin with fried egg and black truffle (36++ SGD). For the truffles, portion and the generous serving of fries cooked with goose fat (and with real truffles, no truffle oil but the real truffle fries!) I thought 36++ is quite a reasonable price for it considering that this would easily cost about 40-50 at other establishments. The beef itself was nicely grilled over hot charcoal and it was good on its own without the sauce, the accompanying fries were nothing short of amazing too.
Lastly, there were the desserts. We had a trio of them. Namely, the Warm Lava Chocolate Cake and Vanilla Ice Cream (14++ SGD), Warm Apple Crumble and Vanilla Ice Cream (14++ SGD) and District 10 Chocolate Sundae with Roasted Nuts (12++ SGD). The desserts reflect more of the western cuisine nature that appeals to a wider crowd as this is District 10 after all and Bonta’s classics are brought back due to demands for it.
Nonetheless, I was hoping if that is any dessert that could come from the old Bonta to spice up the current dessert menu as it sought of lacked character compared to its strong appetizers and main courses. Unfortunately, the desserts are not District 10’s forte at the moment but if you really want something sweet at the end of your meal, go for the District 10 Sundae.
Many thanks to Shasha and Cyndiana of FoodNews for the invitation and hospitality!
81 Clemenceau Avenue #01-15/16/17 UE Square Shopping Mall Singapore 239917
(corner of Unity Street and Clemenceau Avenue)