So, we wanted to have shabu at Shabu Shabu Gen, but failed to make reservations at the tiny little restaurant on a Saturday evening. Obviously, we were turned away. So us lazybums simply walked into the restaurant next-door, sister restaurant Bistro du Vin, but they were also a full-house. So, we thought, surely La Strada, another door down, would have availability.
I'm pretty sure you know where this is going, but yup, no free tables either at La Strada.
But then the awesome service at La Strada cushioned their rejection by informing that Caveau Bar next door, also under the Les Amis Group as with the aforementioned 3 restaurants, shared the same kitchen and we could take a seat in the bar, yet order food from its relations next door.
Turned out a blessing that the other 3 restaurants were all busy occupied. We ended up ordering exclusively from Caveau's menu, and discovered the food at the unassuming little bar was outstanding! Like, everything we ordered was flawless. We've eaten at all its affiliates, multiple times, and never known that Caveau Bar served actual food. All this time, we just thought it was only a bar, with standard boring bar bites like wings and peanuts and crackers to soak up the booze.
Service was gracious, but bumbling. They'd accidentally tacked on an extra glass of wine and a main in our bill, and we'd have been 60 bucks poorer had I not checked it.
The Duck Rilette ($18) may have been a little less fat-laden than what I was used to, but I liked it. Less guilt, but same exquisite flavour. We also supplemented that with a platter of Jamon Iberico Reserva ($25), beautiful red shavings lush with the salty intensity of a 24 months' curing process.
The Broccollini ($22) were unexpectedly huuuugeeeee, as I always thought broccollini were the skinny stemmed siblings to full-grown broccoli. These were more like the great grand patriarch of the broccoli family. That said, I really liked the pairing with prosciutto, the salty pungency a delightful contrast to the subtle bitter accents of the greens.
A dish with much more mellow flavours, the Pan-Seared Hokkaido Scallops ($16) was paired with king oyster mushrooms and a velvety smooth mash.
The fried garlic chips picked up the smoky accents of the Grilled Octopus ($30), while cherry tomatoes, green olives, balsamic emulsion, and a punchy salsa verde gave lift.
An Italian nonna would approve the Meatballs in Tomato Sauce ($24), juicy, coarsely textured, and flavoursome.
Ditto for the Pan-Seared Gambas in Tomato ($16), the sparkling fresh prawns as sweet as the sauce was bright and lively.
This was the highlight of an already fabulous dinner, Clams & Spicy Pork Sausage ($28) cooked in a sauce of white wine, garlic and stewed tomatoes. A bold and hearty dish that was an all-round winner.
Also available at La Strada, the Ceps Mushrooms ($26), or porcini as its known in these parts, was flush with roasted garlicky overtones, fresh thyme accents, and sweet herbaceous notes of cured lardo. An oozy soft-boiled egg rode alongside.
A staple, the Burrata & San Daniele Ham ($32) was simplicity at its finest. Just good fresh produce that shone on their own, served with grissini sticks and tomatoes on the vine.
1 Scotts Road
#01-12 Shaw Centre
Tel: 6737 2622
Open Sundays to Thursdays from 10.30am to 11pm;
Fridays and Saturdays from 10.30am to 1am