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Love Lunch @ Oso Ristorante

So let's rewind back to V-day. J & I decided to skip the overpriced dinner routine. Instead, we both wanted to try Oso Ristorante for sometime now so why not take advantage of the set lunch?

The trip to the restaurant was rather uneventful but in our hurry, we had left the camera in the car and my poor J had to run back to the car to get it, just so I could take pictures and blog about our experience. How sweet was that?
Ok, back to topic. The service was excellent, though not impeccable. The Italiano manager greeted us by name so that was pleasing to our ears. Through the doors of the restaurant sat a nice little bar with a few stools and a small living-room-type-furniture set for people to wait and have coffee perhaps? Once past the bar and inside the restaurant, we were greeted by the friendly chatter coming from all directions. People seemed to know one another and the atmosphere was light and friendly. Despite the small floor-space, there was a wine room and a cheese room. No doubt there had to be a compromise. To satisfy demand, Oso packed a few too many tables, and the spacing between each was kept to a minimum. To proof my point, imagine this: I had to move laterally in between our table and the next to get through, and I had to apologize not just once, but twice, to the couple next door, for my butt knocking against their table.

Anyway, we were served a bread platter comprising of a combination of 3 different types of carb-y goodness after our orders were placed, though we had to request for a oil-vinegar dip.

If you are like me, gimme quality to quantity any time. In the case of this bread platter, although I was impressed with the variety of bread given free-of-charge, none was particularly outstanding. In fact, the foccacia (leftmost), the bread I associate as a staple food of Italy, was the worst of the lot. Granted it was not bad-tasting, but for a foccacia, it was too heavy and even had a slightly damp chew to it and lacked any flavour inside the dough, sans the top crust which had help from a sprinkle of dried herb and a few capers. On the sides were the breadsticks. Those were good, crispy and salty. On the rightmost is the whole wheat baguette. Those, I enjoyed the most. The inside was fluffy with the right denseness, while the crust was chewy and crispy. Salted just nicely, they would be good enough to eat on their own.

For my starter, I had the mixed vegetable roll with basil and sun-dried tomato dressing. This was the most amazing work of art I had ever seen for a plant-based starter. Now, who was the one who said vegetables were boring? The roll sat on the dressing, with bits of dressing decorating the plate. It was beautiful. Each bite released the individual taste of each vegetable, comprising of alternate rolls of zucchini, carrots and roasted red bell peppers, and the basil added just a tad of freshing taste, combining the flavours together wonderfully.

J had the soup, which was a thick onion soup, with parmesan cheese gnocchi. He thought the soup could be thicker but the parmesan flavour came out complimenting the soup.

There was a selection of 3 main courses - pasta, fish or duck. I ordered the grilled mahi mahi in 'aqua pazza' tomato served with poached potato.

It was good, but not fantastic. The fish was slightly overdone for my preference and the potato was bland, as it should be if it was just poached. The tomato soup was tasty, slightly sourish and put together with the potato, made the spud more enjoyable.

J had the braised duck leg in red wine served with pumpkin puree.

The meat fell apart from the bone easily and the red wine reduction was rich and flavourful. The pumpkin puree was sweet from its natural state and added a good dimension to the entire dish, sweet and saltish at the same time. But J, being the ultimate veggie-hater, ignored the poor beta-carotene-packed orange puree so being nice, I went for it, making the pumpkin feel loved and important again.

For dessert, I got the marinated fruits in mint and cinnamon with mixed sherbets.

The fruits, comprising of honeydew, pomelo, orange and granny smith, were a good combination of texture. While the mint flavour came through, I failed to detect cinnamon. The sherbets were good, not too grainy and sweetened just enough so.

The huge and major disappointment of the day for J was his selection of hot chocolate rice cake and vanilla sauce.

First, the cake lacked enough chocolate flavour and was not sweetened sufficiently. The base, made from cooked rice, was even worse. The white appearance was unappealing, due to the hopefully-intentional-omission of chocolate and tasted as white rice would, just plain, plain bland. What little vanilla sauce on the side did nothing to resuscitate the dessert. The cake was presented well and that was it. If J wrote off even a dessert, much worse a chocolate dessert, something must be majorly wrong.

Again, case proven that lunch specials should be ordered with lower expectations. Oso has huge huge potential and given that J and I had our first V-day lunch there, I think we do intend to give Chef Diego Chiarini another chance.

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