Monday, August 15, 2016

Aura Restaurant @ National Gallery

Located at 1 St Andrew's Road, this place is slightly further than Capitol and pretty near Adelphi. Nearest MRT station would be City Hall. Walk into National Gallery and head on straight to the lift. Aura is at Level 5. Reservation is encouraged.

Aura @ Level 5 National Gallery

Was there for a special dinner with fellow foodies and there were 8 of us. The  ala-carte menu for dinner consists of 8 types of pasta dishes and 8 meat dishes for mains. Ask for their 'special' menu and there will be about 3 more pasta dishes and one meat dish to choose from, while stocks lasts. When we were there, the specials were razor clams fettucine ($38++), lobster pasta ($48++), sea urchin pasta ($50++), and Tajima wagyu (meat dish) for $160++. Wine list was pretty interesting and I thought the options for wine by the glass was adequate.
well stocked
wine menu

Read about reviews pertaining to service, and am happy to inform that it was actually quite good. The menu was promptly handed out, while the wine list was upon request. Stools were available for handbags/bags though mine was on the floor. Complimentary drinking water was brought out for each of the guests. Not much of an issue, actually.

while perusing the menu

Once we have placed our orders, the bread (focaccia) was brought out, with a small dish of olive oil and balsamic (one each per guest). More bread is available, should the guests would like to have more.

complimentary focaccia
The focaccia was a tad harder than it looked. Nevertheless, it served its purpose in keeping our hunger at bay.

For wine, we ordered a bottle each for white and red. For the white, we had Kanta Riesling 2012 Egon Muller (@$120++) and for the red, we had the Guidalberto 2012 Tenuta San Guido (Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blend). It was a tad challenging to choose the red as one would like to have it more tannic, one preferred spicy and one wanted it mellow. So this was a compromise in the moderate range.

2012 Tenuta San Guido 'Guidalberto' Toscana IGT, Tuscany Italy @$170++
The Riesling was light straw yellow in colour, fruity, dry and leaning towards mineral aftertaste. The Tenuta San Guido is a blend of 60% Cab Sav and 40% Merlot, is very drinkable with deep ruby colour and taste of berries with a hint of spice. Light acidity in the beginning and soft aftertaste.

2012 Egon Muller 'Kanta' Riesling Adelaide Hills
2012 Tenuta San Guido 'Guidalberto' Toscana
Our late dinner began after all the toastings and the appetisers looked pretty. Our appetisers comprised of three cold appetisers and one warm.

The burrata cheese was a small cutesy mound of whiteness, sprinkled with finely chopped black olives, on a bed of greens. Was wondering if burrata is usually this dry, or should it have some olive/balsamic drizzle or perhaps some sea salt sprinkle? Even the greens was without dressing. When slicing the burrata, it wasn't as moist nor as rich or creamy as I imagined it would be. Least favourite of the appetisers.

Burrata Cheese with Cherry Tomatoes and Black Olives @$26++
Parma Ham with Musk Melon @$26++
The portion of parma ham was generous but the musk melon was too thinly sliced and more of an adornment rather than contributing to any sweetness to the dish. The rockets were fresh and peppery but perhaps a little dressing on the rockets would be nice.

Scallops Crudo withTruffle and Smoked Quail Eggs @$28++

Hokkaido scallops were sweet and the creamy avocado was nice with the ikura and all. Didn't get a taste of the smoked quail eggs though. But overall, would recommend this for starters. Tasty dish and goes well with the wine.

Next, was the grilled octopus. Its smokey fragrance was pretty enticing. Octopus was nicely tender and there were some yolk that oozed out from the egg for that added creaminess.

Grilled Octopus with Crispy Egg and Corn @$28++

Now, on to the mains. Actually, was pretty stuffed from the breads. Had two squares of focaccia and by the time we sampled a bite out of the four appetisers, the stomach space was already about 80% filled!

Whole Wheat Tagliatelle with Duck & Foie Gras @$32++
Tagliolini with Scampi and Avruga Caviar @$38++

The tagliatelle and tagliolini pictures came out quite good. The tagliatelle with duck and foie gras tasted as how it sounded. Rich, strong flavours and slightly gamey as expected from the duck and foie gras. Good with red wine.

The tagliolini was interesting as the sauce was rather sticky and the taste, was of something familiar to Asian tastebuds. I thought it tasted like hae bee flavour. The scampi was sweet, firm and plump.

If you like foie gras, then go for the Smoked Duck with Foie Gras and young Spinach. The slab of foie gras would surely bring a smile to your face. The taste of the foie gras in this dish was much cleaner and none of the gamey aftertaste. So good!

Smoked Duck with Foie Gras and Spinach @$38++
Pappardelle with Oxtail and Mushrooms @$26++
Burrata Cheese Ravioli with Amatriciana @$26++

The pappardelle was the most al-dente pasta of the night. Chewy and very filling. The sweetest tasting pasta of the night would be the sea urchin pasta.

It was a tad unfortunate that my photos of the specials didn't turn out well.

Razor clams fettucine @$38++
Sea Urchin Pasta @$50++

For myself, I had the Spaghetti with Crab and Porcini. A taste that is closer to home. What's missing was just the chilies. Haha!

Spaghetti with Crab and Porcini @$28++

To end, we had sweets. Tiramisu is a must for any Italian meal. But why stop at one when you can have two desserts?  On hindsight, tiramisu was the better sweets.

Bailey's and Hazelnut Feuillettine @$15++
Tiramisu @$15++

Overall, it was a hearty meal. The place was noisier than expected as we were also seated next to a large group celebrating a birthday. Ours, in a way, was also a celebration of sorts. First time meet-up with an acquaintance whom we had only interacted with, virtually via email and whatsapp.

Expect to spend about $88 to $120 per pax for a 3-course dinner, with a glass of wine.

After dinner, one could adjourn to the Sky Lounge for drinks and to enjoy the night view.

night view


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