After a long day at work, all I want to do is to let my hair down and dine somewhere away from the hustle and bustle. Alkaff Mansion Ristorante has been on my radar for the longest time, and I finally got to try it.
The majestic two-storey Tudor-style mansion is comfortably perched atop Telok Blangah Hill, and have been painstakingly restored in 2009, keeping as much of the history as possible.
Getting there by public transport is no easy feat, as it includes a 10 – 15 minutes uphill climb. If you are driving there, complimentary valet parking is available from 6.30pm. The bungalow space is popular for holding corporate functions, lavish weddings, etc. During my climb up (yes, I walked in), I could feel the downward change in temperature and lift in air as I ascended. So alfresco dining isn’t going to be bad here. I would actually love that. Plus, it is just, beautiful and romantic.
Antipasti :: The Fresh Octopus Carpaccio ($24++) was effective in being an appetiser. The light, touch-and-go flavours from the oranges, cherry tomatoes and balsamic reduction were great, little tangy, little sweet, juicy as well. It was perfect matching when the accompaniments enhanced the main course instead of hinder. The octopus was great texture; though thin, bears a good, fresh oceanly bite.
The Seafood Platter ($68++), in my opinion, was the weaker of both. The portion of tuna tartare, tiger prawns, lobster, sea bass and octopus serves two. The tiger prawns were a little too tough, while the rest of the seafood were merely average. It was simply prepared, and if given a choice, I would rather pay lesser for a better starter; the octopus carpaccio above.
Pasta :: One of the signature dishes from the Chef is the Sardinian Fregola with Assorted Seafood ($28++). These are semolina dough rolled in 2-3mm in diameter and cooked to a barley-like texture. The beads of slightly chewy pasta has a nutty wheaty flavour, and is tossed with a savoury seafood medley of clams, prawns, squids and scallops. Seafood was fresh, and whole dish was very rich.
The Porcini Mushroom Risotto ($28++) was another very heavy on the palate course. Simply put, it’s a mushroom truffled risotto, and I thought it was executed well, where both flavours could be sufficiently detected. However, like its pasta counterpart, it is very rich. They can be cloying very easily, and I strongly suggest these two courses to be shared, albeit dining at this posh establishment.
Mains :: The mains that I have tried did not exactly portray as their strong suit. The Oven-baked Sea Bass in Salt ($48++/600g, or $56++/700g, or $64++/800g) was served flambéed. I thought it is quite value-for-money. The fish was evidently fresh, and it was soft in texture and moist (thanks to the salt that aids in the retention). It has a very faint cornac taste as it was flambéed with that, and it’s lightly flavoured with black pepper, extra virgin olive oil and lemon. The 800g fish could easily feed 3 persons I would say. For a fish dish, it’s good value.
It was pricier for the Slow-cooked Suckling Pig ($46++). It’s cooked at 70 degrees for 7 hours to achieve that perfect tenderness, and the last few minutes at high temperature for the crackling crisp skin. So yes, I would say it succeeded in a moist, tender meat with crisp exterior. I like the wild berry sauce that comes with it as it cuts through the richness of the pork. I know it’s a suckling pig, but I just thought I wasn’t absolutely blown away to want to pay over $50 for this.
Fresh Mint Vanilla Panna Cotta ($14++) :: A well-done creamy, smooth texture of the panna cotta is this time round, infused with fresh mint, giving a really refreshingly sweet end to the dinner. It was well-balanced and not overpowered, thus you will not really get the ‘toothpaste’ taste. On one side of the plate sits the passionfruit sauce, and on the other the mixed berries and raspberry sauce, with the former being the less tangy of the pair. Choose the pairing according to your preference!
What’s worth paying for:
Fresh Octopus Carpaccio.
Sardinian Fregola with Assorted Seafood.
Porcini Mushroom Risotto.
Oven-baked Sea Bass.
Fresh Mint Vanilla Panna Cotta.