We had our L.A. Lunch this month at Senso Ristorante & Bar. This classy Italian joint has consistently served up refined and elegantly authentic Italian cuisine and has garnered an impressive bunch of culinary awards. Senso also regularly features on the "Best Of" dining lists for its romantic stylish ambience so we were in for a treat.
There were a large bunch of us for lunch that day, and despite our huge number, the restaurant managed the logistics very well. Food was served up real fast (it could be because we had pre-ordered our dishes), there were little cock-ups, and we mostly got back to the office in time, which is quite the feat.
Most of the dishes were really yummy, portions for the set meals were substantial to satiate our hunger, yet not too filling that we were falling asleep in the afternoon, so there were few complaints.
We started off with the obligatory complimentary Bread Basket, which was fresh and served warm. I particularly liked the breadsticks.
The Funetto di Crostacei all'Italiana con Crostini all'aglio ($22) of Shellfish Bisque with bread costini was a bit too saturated and salty. This got a tad "jelat" (read: rich) after a while.
The Mozzarella di Bufala Involta In Prosgiutto di Parma Saltata in Padella con Olive nere ($22) of Pan-Fried Buffalo Mozzarella wrapped in parma ham served with black olive tapenade was a brilliant medley of flavours. Fresh creamy burrata in salty silky parma with piquant mashed olives.
The Capesante Spadellate su Spinaci Saltati e Pomodori Canditi ($28), Pan-Seared Scallops in Shell served with sauteed spinach, and topped with melted cheese and candied Italian tomatoes was delicious. Scallops were succulent and plump, and the metallic spinach blended well with the tartish caramelized tomatoes and savoury cheese.
The Insalata alla Caprese Tradizionale ($20) of traditional caprese salad with fresh buffalo milk mozzarella tomato and basil leaves had very clean and clear flavours.
The Timballo di Tonno "Blue Fin" con Finocchio Brasata e Frutta Caramellata ($26) timbale of blue fin tuna with braised fennel caramelised fruits garnish. Tuna was fresh, firm and well-marinated.
The Terrina di Fegato Grasso d'oca con Mango Chutney e Brioche Fatto in Casa ($32). The goose liver terrine was smooth, rich, creamy and was set off nicely by the sweetish piquant chunky mango chutney.
The Filetto di Merluzzo Servito su Pure di Melanzane e Asparagi Verdi ($32) of oily cod fish, gently roasted to preserve with moistness, was served alongside eggplant puree and green asparagus.
The Ossobucco di Vitello Tradizionale con Gremolata al Limone e Polenta al Rosmarino ($36) was a hit, fork-tender and hearty braised veal shanks with zesty lemon gremolata on fragrant rosemary polenta mousse.
The Penne all'Amatriciana con Pancetta e Salsa al Pomodoro ($24) was simplicity at its best, tube pasta done al dente, with salty pancetta and tomato sauce.
The Oven-Roasted Black Spare Ribs (1 of 3 choices for the mains in the weekly set menu at $36++) was smoky, fleshy and covered in a sticky honeyed layer, served with mashed potatoes and mescluns.
The Grilled Tuna Fillet (1 of 3 choices for the mains in the weekly set menu at $36++) with Haricot beans and garlic anchovies was a tad tiny in portion but the searing was very commendable, the insides were still pink and moist.
The Homemade Linguine (1 of 3 choices for the mains in the weekly set menu at $36++) with ricotta cheese, spinach and sturia caviar was light and flavoursome.
The Taglierini Neri o Bianchi Fatti in Casa all'astice con Basilico Fresco ($32) of homemade squid ink taglierini pasta with Boston lobster and fresh basil was also a hit. Lobster was plentiful, fresh and bouncy and pasta was soft to the bite.
The white, non-squid ink version of the Lobster Taglierini ($32).
The Risotto allo Zafferano con Fegato d'anatra Francese Saltato in Padella e Cigliege Marinate al Porto ($32) of sunny-hued saffron risotto with port-wine cherries and pan-fried scallops could have done with a little more flavour and salt, but this had a plainness about it that was a refreshing change to the usual rich Italian food.
Fresh seafood abounded in the Linguine con Frutti di Mare al Vino Bianco ($26), al dente linguine pasta with white wine to set off the generous prawns, squid, mussels, fish, scallops and lobster.
The Costoletta di Maiale Japonese Kurobuta con Broccolini al Burro, Demi-Glaze di Vitello e Fiche Freschi ($36) was wonderful, fatty indulgent kurobuta pork racks with butter broccolini, sweet and juicy fresh figs and veal demi-glaze.
The vegetarians got the Gnocchi di Patate Fatti in Casa con Salsa al Gorgonzola DOP e Rucola ($26), homemade potato dumplings in a rich gorgonzola cheese cream sauce and bitter rucola.
The Senso Lagsana con Ragout d'aragosta e Salsa al Pomodoro ($28) was a nice deconstructed version of homemade lasagna with fresh lobster meat and tomato sauce.
The Mixed Fruit Cocktail with Lemon Sorbet (1 of 2 dessert choices as part of the weekly set menu) was a refreshing palate-cleanser to cut through all that cheese and pasta.
The Raisin Parfait (1 of 2 dessert choices as part of the weekly set menu) with raspberry coulis was light and fluffy, sweet without being overwhelming.
The Tortino di Cioccolato Fondente con Frutto della Passione e Gelato di Vaniglia ($18), a Senso bestseller, a chocolate fondant that erupted with hot molten chocolate lava was nicely set against icy premium vanilla bean ice-cream.
The Tiramisu Senso ($14) was also another hit, rich coffee liqueured and cocoa sponge and fluffy mousse. This was heady and aromatic.
Senso Ristorante & Bar
21 Club Street
Tel: 6224 3534
Open weekdays from 12noon to 3pm;
Daily from 6pm to 10.30pm;
Sunday brunches from 11am to 3pm