Thursday, September 29, 2011

La Barca

First there was Bruno’s along Tanjong Katong Road. Then, came Antoinette and Kilo, nestled in the Lavender and Kallang area. Yippee now, there’s a new “Katong Kia” in town - La Barca at the Goodman Arts Centre – it’s literally in my backyard, 10 minutes’ slow stroll tops.

I had jumped at Vino Shifu’s invitation to attend Luce Della Vite winery’s dinner at La Barca. It was the perfect opportunity to check out the new neighbourhood Italian joint.

I was struck by how out of place La Barca seems in the middle of, well, nowhere. Almost like an elegant woman seated on a haystack at the back of a truck (erm, no idea why that came to my mind). It’s the same concept as Hosted on the Patio and District 10, but for some reason I think La Barca’s setting is much lovelier.

La Barca means “the boat” – check out the multi-layered roof that resembles flattened sails. The indoor dining space is warm and inviting, but I prefer the covered outdoor deck – It was so surreal hanging out there sipping the welcome glass of Attems Pinot Grigio 2010, nibbling on the amuse boche of Salvia Fritta, Verdure Fritte, Crocchette di Patate (Fried sage leaves and vegetables, potato croquettes) the wait staff came around with. Service was excellent, efficient and personable.

I wish the lighting was better so I could have taken some food pics. The cuisine at La Barca is Tuscany-based and I thought all 4 courses were quite unique. The starter of Le Quaglie Brasate con Uva Fresca (Braised Quail with Fresh Grapes) was a tad cold (some guests were late) but I liked how the grapes, quail went beautifully with the Lucente 2007 (50% Merlot, 35% Sangiovese and 15% Cab Sauv) – a soft explosion of cherry fruit. Some parts of the quail were a bit tough though.

The pasta dish was I Ravioli di Manzo con Salsa di Cipolle (Beef Ravioli with Genovese Onion Sauce). Now, THIS, was delicious. Generous pockets of beef and pasta was done perfectly. The Luce 2001 (45% Sangiovese, 45% Merlot and 10% Cabernet) was a much bigger wine and complimented this well – deep rich cherry and oak. I will definitely be back to try other pasta dishes.

At this stage I was already stuffed. But the main course sounded too good to resist - Il Controfiletto di Manzo al Forno, con Salsa di Vino Rosso e Timballino di Funghi (Oven-roasted Tenderloin with Red Wine Sauce and Mushroom Flan). OMG. The beef melted in my mouth. The mushroom flan too, was so flavourful. This dish definitely stood its own. I took my time savoring every bite. The Luce Brunello Di Montalcino 2005 they poured with this was simply delicious. Ripe fruit and pepper bouquet, sexy deep ruby colour, it evolved in the glass - I was impressed!

Dinner ended with dessert of Marquise al Caffé & Cantuccini con il Vin Santo (Coffee Mousse & Almond based biscuit). I surrendered after a bite – it was nice but I was so stuffed! There I was, holding my stomach and the nice waiter comes around with a bottle of grappa. “Some dessert wine, Miss?”

Heh, you know I don’t say no to wine.

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