Al Dente Trattoria, Esplanade

Because the Hubs is so busy at his new-ish job, I've found myself with a lot more free time on my hands. I've consequently increased the frequency of my monthly meet-ups with some friends, namely Kang and Ernie, to weekly meet-ups. I had dinner at Al Dente with Ernie a few weeks ago, and this time, it was Kang I had dinner with while the Hubs was working late.

If you've noticed that I've had dinner quite often at Al Dente, it's due to the Palate card, which offers a whopping 50% discount for 2 diners at participating restaurants, including Al Dente. I certainly won't dine Al Dente this often without the Palate card because the food's not that good. But, I've noticed that their starters fare much better than their mains or desserts.

We kicked off with the Insalata di Portobello and Porcini on Pomodoro ($18) a wonderfully glorious combination of oven baked juicy portobello and porcini mushrooms on a bed of cherry tomatoes and topped with freshly dressed mesclun greens.Very simple but very yummy.

The Capesante e Insalata di Caldo Spinaci ($22) is a must-try here, a trio of succulent, perfectly caramelized pan seared scallops set atop a bed of sauteed spinach and pearl onions. A sprinkling of pine nuts lend a buttery nutty accent and drizzling of aged hazelnut vinaigrette provide a piquant finish to the lovely starter. I love this.

Kang had the Homemade Fettucine alla Orange Pink Sauce with Salmone ($28) a huge chunk of pan-seared salmon was paired with soft fettucine in a light tomato-cream sauce. A little forgettable, this dish, and the salmon was just a tad fishy.

I wanted something light, so I got the Pan-Seared Seabass su Patate al Vapore Asparagi servito con Fonduta di Porro ($29) a thick slab of pan-seared seabass on steamed potato and mushrooms served with leek fondue. The seabass wasn't fresh enough and the sauce was awful. Despite the addition of leek, the cream sauce was just too heavy and cloying. The 2 times I've had dinner here, I've noticed that anything with cream was just too heavy and rich, utterly sickening. Best to stick to the pizzas and tomato-based pastas.

The Hubs joined us later, and he got the Arrostito Pan Filetto di Manzo su Funghi saute e Pure di Patate ($38) pan-roasted wagyu beef tenderloin which was overdone, but well-flavoured and robust. The sauteed mushrooms and brown sauce were good but the mashed potato was so terribly generic and boring.

We all shared the Traditional Tiramisu ($10) layered savoiardi biscuits soaked in espresso and mascarpone cheese. A little underwhelming and weak, if you ask me. This needed more kick, more flavour and more moisture.

Al Dente Trattoria
8 Raffles Avenue
#01-13 Esplanade Mall
Tel: 6341 9188
Open daily from 11.30am to 3pm for lunch and 6pm to 11pm for dinner
Website: www.aldente.com.sg/

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