Because most of my colleagues are taking turns being away during the festive period, a lot of them missed out on the last L.A. Lunch at Imperial Treasure. Since we had a bit of wriggle room in our budget, I decided to have another L.A. Lunch at Forlino on the last (official) work day of 2011 (I say Friday, 30 December 2011 is the last official work day of 2011 because, like a lot of my colleagues, I have a trial in early January 2012, which means that we'll all have work over the long weekend). Still, lunch at Forlino was a very nice way to round off the amazing year I've had.
Forlino remains one of the premier fine-dining Italian restaurants in Singapore. Walking past the robin blue walls adorned with intricate Baroque-style carvings that wouldn't look out of place in the ornate interiors of any of the European castles, you are greeted with the breathtakingly expansive view of the Marina Bay, one of the plus-points that draw its high-end diners back.
What I like about Forlino is the substantive portions. While the prices may be "cha-ching", the generous portions and authentic quality of the food make this one of the more worthwhile Italian ristorantes around to have classic Italian cuisine in sophisticated surroundings.
What I didn't like about Forlino was the very slow service. It was a good thing that none of us were really in a rush to get back to the office (it is, afterall, the last official work day of the year), because we were only served our amuse bouche and bread 35 minutes after we arrived for lunch. This is a place for a slow leisure lunch, not for busy work bees needing to keep within a single lunch hour.
The Amuse Bouche of the day was a Ricotta-filled Puff Pastry, with mild and fresh ricotta cheese encased in a buttery confection, delicious and just enough to whet your appetite.
Forlino's signature freshly baked Foccacia Bread, refillable and so flavoursome you don't need olive oil at all. The crisp, slightly caramelized crust is loaded with sesame seeds and gives way to soft fluffy airy bread. I could be happy eating this on its own.
There was a seasonal Festive Set Lunch ($58++), very reasonably priced, considering that you get 3 courses, making for a very full meal at a very easy-on-the-wallet price. This was the first choice of 2 starters, the Duck Galantine with Truffles and Honey Sauce, paired very nicely with a warm walnut and mushroom salad.
The other starter choice which was immensely popular, was the 'Zampone' Pork Sausage Ravioli set atop a soft polenta bed and complemented by a thick chickpea cream.
This was the first choice of 3 mains, a thick fillet of fresh Black Cod with seasonal Jerusalem artichokes, lentils and accompanied by a sunshiny bubbly saffron sauce.
The second mains option was the festive Roast Turkey stuffed with chestnuts, and a generous helping of truffle-infused brown gravy and a light-as-air cranberry foam.
The last choice of a main was the Braised Wagyu Beef Cheek with Black Truffle Sauce, which proved to be a popular hit, for obvious reasons. The robust red meat was melt-in-your-mouth tender, finished with an equally rich gravy and topped off with a few shavings of decadent black truffles.
The rest of us opted for mains from the ala carte menu, starting with the Spaghetti "alla Chitarra" with Lobster ($48) handmade pasta made with a millenia-old Chitarra press and a heady cognac-tinged French bisque-inspired lobster sauce.
The Black Cod Capelletti ($38) was unexpectedly paired with a creamy broccoli mush and a few sprinkles of garlic confit.
The Porcini Mushrooms and Pumpkin Risotto ($38) was heavenly. Rich, creamy but with just that perfect bit of bite, this was sprinkled with sprigs of edible flowers that provided texture and beauty.
The Black Truffle Risotto ($58) was flavoured with Robbiola di Roccaverano cheese, a soft-ripened cream-coloured cheese from Piedmont and Lombardy made with cow's, goat's and sheep's milk, which lent a full, tangy and mildly sour flavour to the heart-warming risotto.
The Prawn Risotto ($38) was also lovely, done al dente and very light, delicate flavours.
The Wagyu Beef Cheek with Red Wine Sauce ($45) was pleasantly larger in portion than we'd expected. CC had trouble finishing it. This was good to the last drop, with truffle oil lending a lovely accent to the sauce and root vegetables providing sweetness.
1 Fullerton Road
Tel: 6877 6995
Open daily from 12noon to 2.30pm for lunch and 6.30pm to 10pm for dinner