A recent dining experience at OSO reminds me of how the boys used to say that a lot of the local girls are "nice from far but far from nice". You know how it goes, like when a friend gushes about how hot some girl is and yet when you see her for yourself, it's like, "meh".
I've long heard rave reviews about OSO Ristorante. Way before the revitalisation of the Bukit Pasoh/Keong Saik area, OSO was the reason foodies flocked to that area. They were one of the earlier purveyors of refined Italian haute cuisine. But having dined at the restaurant recently, I cannot quite understand diners gushing about this place. Mind you, the food wasn't awful. In fact, it was quite good. It was just not great. For all of the hype, I'd expected perfection. There were just about as many misses as there were hits.
Service though, was almost faultless. They were impeccably professional, yet warm and spontaneous at the same time.
For people who don't want to splurge your bonuses on a single meal over dinner but want to sample some of OSO's culinary offerings, OSO offers a very affordable weekday set lunch at $32 for a 3-course meal.
The Classic Mixed Vegetables Soup with Basil-Beetroot Pesto was very pretty pink broth choc-full of diced vegetables. The beetroot lent a sharpness to the delicate sweetness of the vegetables while basil provided a peppery lift. It was a very welcome starter to the set lunch menu. The Recomposed Endive with Smoked Salmon and mixed vegetables dressed Scapece style, on the other hand, could have passed off as a meal on its own. The rolls were THAT substantial. That said, this was decent. A layer of fried oats gave the crust some crunch while the inside was juicy and flavoursome.
We also shared some starters from the ala carte menu, beginning with the Pan-Fried Eggs Tagemino ($22) with black truffle paste and mixed cheese fondue. A highly rated starter, this was a little bit of a let down. I couldn't taste the cheese in this, and the egg was disappointingly uneven. The outer edges were overcooked and rubbery, whereas the center portion was left undercooked, with bits of the clear membrane still intact.
The Cioppino ($12), an Italian-American fish stew, was more like a thick prawn/lobster bisque than a watery bouillabaisse, which is what the classic cioppino should have been like. This was too heavy and rich, so despite taking a half-portion, I just couldn't down more than a few spoonfuls of this extremely cloying soup.
Onto the mains from the ala carte menu, the Veal Ravioli ($24) in a velvety cheese and mushroom cream sauce was teetering on the brink of cloying. This needed copious lashings of pepper to get through. The veal mince filling, while hearty, was also a little dry. Considering we had quite a toughie finishing up only a half portion, it was a tad too rich.
The Black Truffle Tartufo Risotto ($26) with mascarpone was AWESOME. The al dente grains had a decisive bite to them, and each was coated evenly with starry dots of heavenly black truffle paste. Mascarpone lent a mild creamy sweetness to the starch of the canaroli rice. Totally aromatic, totally delicious. If I were to come back to OSO, this would be the reason why.
From the set lunch menu, the Roasted Whole Portobello Mushroom was scrumptious. The well-baked mushroom caps were lipsmackingly juicy while the beef bolognese was hearty and full-bodied. A pool of veal jus added extra moistness. Despite its seemingly small portion, this was surprisingly filling with its big rounded flavours.
Another main from the set lunch menu, the Rigatoni Pasta with Tuna and Eggplant Ragout with wild rucola sauce was commendable as well. The al dente tubes were dressed in a peppery bright green sauce. Clean and clear flavours with a toothsome texture.
The Pink Grapefuit Pompelmo Sherbet ($12) was a brilliant way to cut through the heaviness of the meal. A little bitter accents interlaced with the refreshingly fruity elements, making this such a great palate cleanser.
The 70% Hot Dark Chocolate Tart Crostata ($14) with vanilla ice-cream was, in spite of the rave reviews, another too-heavy dish. I would have preferred the chocolate tart to be a little bittersweet to balance out the rich buttery tart and sweet vanilla ice-cream.
From the dessert selection on the set menu, the Gratinated Mixed Berries Tart with Egg Sabayon was lighter than the chocolate version. But barely. The fruits were fresh and sweet, but I would have preferred the thick cream to be served on the side than draped all over it.
The Oven-Baked White Chocolate and Pistachio Cake with an orange slice was the better of the 2 desserts from the set menu. The cake was fluffy and light, lifted by the tangy sourish tones of the orange.
OSO's obligatory bread plate served piping hot and fresh out of the oven so it was aromatic and soft. It was quite the lapse in service that none of us had our side platters or cutlery when munching on these and that our crumb-filled tabletop wasn't cleared off the crumbs.
46 Bukit Pasoh Road
Tel: 6327 8378
Open for lunches from Mondays to Fridays from 12noon to 2.30pm
Dinner from Mondays to Saturdays from 6pm to 12midnight