Bellabar and Locanda Winter Menu Sampling

About two weeks ago, I was kindly invited to sample the new Winter Menu by Bellabar and Locanda. Each dish was paired with a drink but since I can't have alcohol, I won't be reviewing them (photos won't be missed though!). The tasting night was great and thanks to the Bellabar & Locanda Team for their awesome hospitality. I must say that Max is definitely one of the most friendly (and very hospitable) general managers I've met.
Bellabar is just adjacent to Locanda with a comtemporary decor and dim lighting which makes the place quite cozy and romantic. Locanda, on the other side, has a more rustic decor and i definitely loved the big bench filled with freshly made pasta and mouth watering Italian antipasto items.

The night started out with Bellabar's lounge food menu being paired up with some drink creations by Jared - the senior mixologist at Bellabar who is very knowledgeable and friendly. Knowing that I couldn't have alcohol, Jared was so kind to make me a mocktail instead - Ginger & Cucumber Lime Mocktail.
The first dish up was the Fried Gnocchi paired up with the Bella “75” (no photo for this drink, sorry). According to Paolo, the executive chef, this dish is an inspiration from Sicily and it was served in a mini iron pot with some rocket leaves and finished off with a beautiful salsa verde. The gnocchi is freshly made with potatoes and was lightly fried, which created a lovely and crunchy texture outside while retaining the inside light, fluffy and full of potato flavour! Delicious~

Next dish was the Lamb Medallion paired with the Closer - the drink served in a martini glass shown in the first photo. Frankly speaking, i am not a fan of lamb dishes but this one wasn't too bad. The lamb was slightly grilled and put in an iron pot (same as the fried gnocchi) on a bed of mash potato and topped with some salsa verde. The lamb medallion was quite tender and not overly 'lamby'...very nice with the mash too!

Last of the Bellabar's tasting menu was the Bresaola on Parmiggiano paired with the Moscow Mule. I quite liked the strong and bold flavours present in this dish; the bresaola was cut paper thin and delicious when savoured with parmiggiano. The pickled tomatoes were super juicy and full of flavour and that just added an extra punch to the dish! Lovely.

Moscow Mule
Now moving on to Locanda's winter menu (no photos for the drinks as they were paired up with wines, except for the dessert dish), we are first presented with an entree called The Ducketta which literally means Little Duck. I never really had duck as an entree so this was actually quite interesting and a bit different. The duck used in this dish was a young duck cured and slow cooked in duck fat for about 12 hours, served with strawberries and celeriac and finished off with a plum vinaigrette. The duck was tender and the flavours worked well without making this dish 'too heavy for an entree'.

The next dish was a pasta dish, Trofie Pasta served with Scallops, Oyster Mushroom and Tarragon Pesto. Trofie pasta is like a twisted parpadelle, if you are wondering. The pasta was cooked al dente (perhaps just a tad under for my liking) and it was served with some nicely seared juicy scallops. The dish also exhibited some lovely earthy flavours from the mushrooms and the tarragon pesto; good dish for winter i must say.     

Next up was the Asparagus Risotto which it is pretty much self explanatory. The rice was cooked to perfection and all the ingredients just came well together. Simple, elegant and not to mention delicious! It's a must dish for both vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike =) 'No cream added!' - as Maxi emphasized.

Last dish to come out before the dessert was probably one of the highlights for most of the guests, The "OX" Scotch Fillet (aged 60 days). This was slow cooked in aged balsamic vinegar to add that beautiful caramelization on top of the meat while retaining its tenderness and the juices inside. The final presentation was done in front of us where Paolo cut the Ox Scotch Fillet into strips and drizzled some olive oil over them. Unlike the normal beef scotch fillet, ox scotch fillet taste a bit gamier and feels richer too. This dish was really done well and totally recommend it.

Last of the tasting menu was of course a dessert dish, the Passionfruit Semifreddo and White Chocolate Panna Cotta. The semifreddo was quire refreshing which matched quite well with the slightly richer and smooth white chocolate panna cotta. This dessert was matched with their House Barrel Aged Negroni.

House Barrel Aged Nigroni

The night ended well and I am sure all of the guests enjoyed it as much as I did. I was quite pleased with the quality and the standard of the dishes; dishes that deserve another mention (in my humble opinion) are the ducketta, the asparagus risotto, the ox scotch fillet and of course, the fried gnocchi. I am most certain that I will be back for these sometime!

Lastly, I would like to thank Phil (from The Mark Agency) for coordinating this event and I would also like to thank Paolo Milanesi (Executive Chef), Max Rossi (General Manager) and Jared Thibault (Senior Mixologist) for being such awesome hosts. 

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