Category Archives: Restaurant Reviews

Date Night at Trattoria Gallo d’Oro

Last Friday morning, I hit the gym for an early spin class.  After class, shower, trip home, etc – when I finally sat down to get some work done, the first thought that struck me was, “WHOA…tired legs.”

Two spin classes, 2 yoga classes, 1 Body Pump class, and 1 run between Wednesday night and Friday morning finally caught up with me.  This fatigue was exactly what I’d been aiming to achieve.  My total running mileage is still relatively low for me, as I’m rebuilding slowly after spending the Fall fighting and healing some small nagging issues (read about them here, if you’re super interested).

One of my goals for the week had been to wear my legs out, so I could practice working out – especially running – on tired legs.  This is similar to what happens as a “run only” training cycle progresses (depending a bit on your training plan) – a hard workout – or series of hard workouts – leave you tired for your next one.  It’s a cumulative effect, designed to prepare your legs for functioning while fatigued, and to prepare your brain for pushing your body through the fatigue.  Since I can’t yet run enough to fully fatigue my legs, I’ve been using spinning + BodyPump to achieve approximately the same effect.  Well, last week, I was extremely successful.  🙂

I kept my legs propped up for the rest of the day (I keep a small stool under my desk for just this purpose!), and settled in to be productive.  I worked through the day, and in the evening, I met KMN downtown for date night near Clarke Quay.  We had plans to go to Gallo d’Oro [Blk 7 Magazine Road #01-03 Central Mall], a local Italian restaurant that we’d discovered by accident, just a few weeks after moving back to Singapore.  We’d been shut out last Friday, because they were hosting a private party – so this week, KMN called for a reservation.  We were in.

Goofing around after dinner.  Hey, it's not every day I see a glowing pink tree!

Goofing around after dinner. Hey, it’s not every day I see a glowing pink tree!

This little spot is tucked away, off the main (touristy, over-priced) drag of Clarke Quay.  If you’re a tourist, with access to really good Italian food at home, I’d suggest you go out and enjoy some local Southeast Asian delicacies instead.  [Email me, and I’ll hook you up with some awesome suggestions that aren’t at Clarke Quay.] But if you’re a local looking for some solid Italian food, we highly recommend Gallo d’Oro.  We think they serve the most authentic and tasty Italian food we’ve found in Singapore.  In fact, I even considered not blogging about it, in order to help it keep a low profile.  But the Italian chef and his attentive staff deserve some publicity, because really – it’s a place we’d like to see stick around.

We opted for one of the Set menus, and started off with 3 different appetizers:

Parma Ham Platter (L), reminded me of the entoecas of Italy.  The Pork Loin Salad on the right was light and tasty, with a slightly tangy dressing.

Gallo d’Oro’s Parma Ham Platter (L), reminded me of the enotecas of Italy. The Pork Loin Salad (R) was light and tasty, with a slightly tangy dressing. The meat was delicious and the veggies fresh.

Burrata over fresh greens: My favorite part of the whole meal.  I could eat three of these, all by myself...

Burrata over fresh greens: My favorite part of the whole meal. I could eat three of these, all by myself…

Remember that good cheese is harder to come by in Asia than it is in Europe or the US.  We can definitely buy fresh mozzarella at the supermarket, but it’s not as tasty – or fresh – as what we’re used to in the US.  It also costs several times more (a small ball like this would cost $12-15 SGD, $10-12 USD).  So this is a real treat.  The group at the table next to us was eyeing this plate up, as well – so we were sure to make quick work of it!!  As usual, the outer portion was slightly firm but smooth fresh mozzarella – and the inside was filled with even creamier, softer cheese deliciousness.   This may not have been *quite* as good as some of the mozzarella we had in Italy – but it sure is close!!

Next came our pasta dish:

Gallo d'Oro's Linguine with Crab Meat, Basil, Diced Tomatoes, and Chili

Gallo d’Oro’s Linguine with Crab Meat, Basil, Diced Tomatoes, and Chili

All of the components hit the spot – the linguine was good, the crab was plentiful and fresh, and light sauce was delicious and not greasy at all.  The chili provided just enough kick to give the dish some pizzazz.  On previous visits, we’d enjoyed a different pasta dish, the Homemade Pappardelle Pasta with Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Parmigiano Sauce.  After enjoying the Pappardelle for the first time, I found myself daydreaming about it, even days later – so the bar was set high for the Linguine with Crab Meat.  I’m not quite sure the Linguine beat the Pappardelle, but it came darn close.  Both are very solid bets.

In true Italian style, next came our “Second Plate”, or meat dishes:

Gallo d'Oro Prawns with Capsicum

Gallo d’Oro Prawns with Capsicum

The prawns were already shelled (bonus in Singapore), and the sauteed pepper base even appealed to me, despite my dis-preference for overly sweet entrees.  Although it’s very easy to overcook prawns and turn them into a chewy mess, these were done perfectly – fully cooked, but still tender.  Delicious!

My beef-avoidance tendencies emerged, as the only dish I neglected to photograph that evening was the Sliced Beef Tenderloin Tagliata with Rosemary and Spinach.  KMN thought this was tasty – and I’m going to defer to him on that one.

And then…dessert!

Custard Cake: OK, but not amazing.

Custard Cake: OK, but not amazing.

Creme Catalana (like Creme Brulee): AMAZING.

Creme Catalana (like Creme Brulee): AMAZING.

I’m not a huge creme brulee person, but I would have happily consumed that entire dishful on the right, all by myself.  The top was crunchy, and the inside was smooth, creamy, and vanilla-y.  Rich, but oh-so-good.

All of these dishes came as part of Sharing Menu 2 ($68 SGD / $55 USD per person), which we chose because it had many dishes we hadn’t yet tried.  This certainly is not a super cheap meal – but if you’re watching costs, you can always opt for the Sharing Menu 1 ($38 SGD / $30 USD per person).  [See full menu here.]  But I think Menu 1 is a steal, for Italian food in Singapore, and that’s probably what I’d stick to in the future.  The dishes are different from Menu 2, and although the meat dishes are more pedestrian, the appetizers, pasta, and desserts are still excellent – and $30 is a hard price point to beat.  If you choose to order a la carte, pastas are ~$20 SGD, and meat dishes are ~$25-30 SGD.  Gallo d’Oro also has a small selection of (mostly) Italian wines available by the glass, for $10-12/glass.  [Non-Singaporeans, note that alcohol is quite expensive in Singapore.  These prices are actually quite reasonable.]  Their by-the-bottle selection is broader.

We also appreciate the service at this restaurant.  The space is small, and served by just 2 servers.  But they are incredibly attentive without being overbearing.  Our water glasses are always full, our dirty plates are changed quickly, and the timing of the dishes is always steady.  The head waiter is very friendly, and most times we’ve been there, we’ve spotted the chef step out of the kitchen briefly to chat with customers.  I won’t lie – all of this is a breathe of fresh air, compared with the efficient but abrupt/curt/rude-ish service that typifies many local (non-Western) establishments.

We left full and happy, our taste for good Italian food temporarily satisfied.

Only 1 glass of wine each, I swear!

Only 1 glass of wine each, I swear!

Are your legs feeling fresh, or totally zapped today?  What did you do to get them that way?

Eaten anything totally delicious lately?  Do tell….

Refueling at Relish

Thanks for all the sharing, commenting, liking, and subscribing love that followed my Green Corridor Run recap.  If you missed out on the fun initially, you can still read (and comment) all about it right here.

Now, I love to run.  But let’s be serious.  Approximately 25% of the fun of running is actually in (re)fueling, right?  So let’s get down to the tasty part.  Immediately after the race, we enjoyed the water and bananas provided.  I even had a cup of 100Plus, a local electrolyte replacement drink.  But I have to admit, Southeast Asia, I have no idea why you like a sports drink to be carbonated.  The carbonation was fine, post-race – the drink actually tastes quite like a lemon-lime soda.  But I’d be hard-pressed to consume anything carbonated during a run.  Ew.

Thanks to the early race start and proximity to our apartment, we were able to zip home after the run, grab showers, and still meet some friends for brunch by 10:30.  [This included ~10 minutes of sock rinsing.  That red mud was pretty persistent!]

Post-run sneakers.  Love it.  But keep in mind that we only got this messy because we CHOSE to run through the mud.  If we'd opted to follow most of the other participants around the muddy sections, our shoes and socks would have been (almost) sparkling clean!

Post-run sneakers. Love it. But keep in mind that we only got this messy because we CHOSE to run through the mud. If we’d opted to follow most of the other participants around the muddy sections, our shoes and socks would have been (almost) sparkling clean!

Upon the recommendation of a foodie friend, we met for brunch at Relish by Wildrocket [501 Bukit Timah Road, #02-01, Cluny Court].  The space was gorgeous – open and airy, with high ceilings and enormous windows.  The wood furniture made me feel like I was sitting on someone’s massive front porch (think southeastern US kind of porch).

Relish is known for their burgers (which they brag aren’t made from “dodgy parts”, but only chuck, shin, and rib eye), but they also serve locally-inspired pastas, curries, and braised meats.  For weekend brunch, they include a few more breakfast-y items on the menu (pancakes, french toast, and various egg preparations).

A hard run leaves me feeling ambivalent about food for at least 10-12 hours – so I knew I’d stuck to my goal of “just running” the race that morning, because I was ravenous.  And when I saw that there was a bagel on the menu (bagels are pretty rare in Singapore), I knew it had to be mine:

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Egg, and Cream Cheese Bagel at Relish

Smoked Salmon, Scrambled Egg, and Cream Cheese Bagel at Relish

Along with bagels, smoked salmon and cream cheese are treats that I don’t usually get in Singapore.  I was so anxious for my food to arrive, I almost popped back to the kitchen to see how things were progressing.  Thankfully, our food came out pretty fast.

This sucker was pretty tasty – the portion of salmon was generous, and they even included a bit of greens, so I felt like I was getting my veggies in, too.  The bagel was terribly disappointing (mushy, tasteless, chewy in a bad way), but I have to admit – my expectations weren’t that high anyway.  I removed the top, and just ate the filling with the bottom half of bagel, with my fork and knife.  Between the salmon, greens, scrambled eggs, and a bit of cream cheese, plus half a bagel, there was plenty there to fill me up.  Also, those little fried diced potato were deliciously crunchy.

KMN enjoyed Relish’s version of Eggs Benedict:

Eggs Benedict at Relish

Eggs Benedict at Relish

If we go back, I might actually cross over to the Eggs Benedict side.  This dish was terrific (and his English muffin thingy was a considerably better bread product than my bagel).  We also enjoyed coffees, lattes, etc – and one member of our group ordered orange juice, which was served very thick and pulpy – looked like it was freshly squeezed.

The smallest coins in Singapore are 5 cents.  Usually, things just get rounded  automatically, but here, the bill actually specifies it.

The smallest coins in Singapore are 5 cents. Usually, things just get rounded automatically, but here, the bill actually specifies it. 🙂

It’s not a cheap eatery (~$25-30 SGD / $20-25 USD per person, all in), but the service was good, the food was tasty, and the ambiance very pleasant for enjoying a meal with friends.  I’m pretty sure we’ll be back – KMN wants to try out the burgers.  Our primary complaint?  Relish, could you please turn down the air con?  A few of us were a bit chilly – and the cold air blasting on our food cooled it faster than we would have liked.  Thanks!

Our friend also mentioned a really good dessert spot in the same shopping plaza as Relish, so we headed over to check it out find that they had moved.  Dang!  But, since our morning run was a 10K, not a half-marathon, we were probably better off without the extra sugar. 🙂  Instead, we stopped into a little wine shop that had…bizarrely…Hungarian wine.  And some modestly priced wine, for Singapore.  We chose a bottle to take home, bid our friends farewell, and headed out for a few errands.

Walked, fed, watered, and ready for errands.

Walked, fed, watered, and ready for errands.

We took it easy the rest of the afternoon: some work, some snoozing, some cooking.  KMN’s parents came over for dinner, and we enjoyed relaxing and catching up with them.  And with that, our weekend drew to a close.

Oh, except that it wasn’t until my in-laws left that I seriously looked in the mirror.  I realized that I probably shouldn’t have switched my linen pants out for shorts when we arrived home after our errands.  My in-laws probably think I’m auditioning to be a new super-hero or something…

Tank. Shorts. Calf sleeves. Sandals. SUPERWOMAN!!!!!

Tank. Shorts. Calf sleeves. Sandals. SUPERWOMAN!!!!!

Americans: Eliminate the penny and round to the nearest 5 cents? Yes or No?

Singaporeans: What’s your favorite American-esque breakfast/brunch spot in Singapore??  Pleeeeeease share!!!!!