Food Picks: Buona Terra, Bytes Station, Gary's

A Buona Terra standout dish is the bincho-grilled Mozambique scampi, topped with a translucent sheath of lardo. PHOTO: BUONA TERRA

Buona Terra's winter menus

You have till end-March to savour the winter menus at one-Michelin-starred Italian restaurant Buona Terra. The recently refurbished restaurant marks its 10th anniversary this year.

Resident chef Denis Lucchi offers the best of the season's ingredients - such as puntarelle (a type of chicory), salsify and citruses - in the Experience menus (from $158++ a person for five courses).

For a dinner treat, go for the five-course Chef Experience ($198++ a person). It starts on a refreshing note with yellowtail carpaccio which includes Calabrian mandarin orange segments, lime powder, Amalfi lemon puree - topped with a flurry of horseradish "snow".

Another standout is the bincho-grilled Mozambique scampi, topped with a translucent sheath of lardo that melts in my mouth. It is paired with sliced puntarelle rolled with burrata, black garlic puree and a rich anchovy sauce.

The meal just gets better with the main of bincho-grilled Irish duck that has been dry-aged for 10 days and glazed with Italian acacia honey. The tender duck breast is served with salsify done two ways - pureed and deep-fried - as well as a black garlic puree, morel mushrooms and flavour-packed moscato sauce.

I'm stuffed by the end of the meal, but would have happily dug into another portion of the delicious duck.

Where: Buona Terra, 29 Scotts Road
MRT: Newton
Open: Noon to 3pm (weekdays), 6.30 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays)
Tel: 9456-3147
Info: Buona Terra's website

Grab a quick Byte

Ordering and payment via the Ella, The Robot Barista app, is fast and fuss-free at Bytes Station. PHOTO: BYTES STATION

You may have seen robot barista Ella dishing out coffee at Plaza Singapura. Now, you can find the autonomous, AI-powered robot at Bytes Station - a new grab-and-go sandwich, smoothie and coffee kiosk concept.

Its first stop is at Raffles Place MRT station and there are plans to hit 30 stations by the end of 2022.

Ella and Bytes Station are developed and operated by Singapore-based start-up Crown Digital, and its ambitious roll-out is in partnership with SMRT's commercial unit Stellar Lifestyle. Crown Digital is also behind Crown Coffee, a cloud kitchen in Claymore Drive.

Bytes Station's food and drink offerings do not pale in comparison to cafes. PHOTO: BYTES STATION

Bytes Station's food and drink offerings do not pale in comparison to cafes. They include Pesto Chick Ciabatta ($10.90) with herbed chicken thigh, housemade pesto, mozzarella and sun-dried tomato ciabatta bun; Roasted Ribeye Sourdough ($12.90) with arugula, mozzarella and housemade pesto; and jalapeno ribeye croissant ($15.90).

Prices for coffee and smoothies start at $3.50 and $5.90 respectively.

The ordering and payment process - via the Ella, The Robot Barista app - is fast and fuss-free. I get a notification when my order - a sandwich and a coffee - is ready and collect it by scanning the QR code provided.

Ella is also flying Singapore's flag in Japan - in partnership with the East Japan Railway Company - with one currently in operation at the Yokohama Station.

I'm looking forward to Ella making her way to the west, where I live.

Where: Bytes Station, B1-55/56 Raffles Place MRT Station, 5 Raffles Place
MRT: Raffles Place
Open: 7am to 8pm, weekdays only; closed on weekends
InfoBytes Station website 

Date night at Gary's

Bamboo Clam with Squid Ink Pasta. PHOTO: GARY'S

The quiet Rochester area is coming back to life, and the three-month-old Italian-Japanese restaurant Gary's is one of the early birds in the cluster.

It is the first restaurant by Taiwan-born Singaporean chef Gary Wu, a Shatec graduate with 28 years of experience in the industry. He was previously a senior sous chef at Italian restaurant Buona Terra and was also based in Brunei as a private chef.

Although the white table cloth setting sets fine-dining expectations, the prices are, thankfully, not too astronomical. Prices start at a friendly $38 for a three-course set lunch.

Appetisers include Hokkaido scallop crudo ($20) with red radish, ginger ponzu dressing; and the prettily plated Gary's garden salad ($20), which comes with mashed potatoes, asparagus, baby corn, carrots and tomatoes.

I enjoy the grilled Iberico pork jowl ($38) with five-spiced carrot puree and pickled ginger, grilled Spanish octopus leg ($38), as well as the bamboo clam with squid ink pasta ($28) with a garlicky sauce - something different from the usual vongole pasta.

Complete a romantic date night with tiramisu ($14) or Gary's chocolate cake ($14), flambeed with Grand Marnier.

Where: Gary's, 41 Rochester Drive
MRT: Buona Vista
Open: 11am to 2.30pm, 6.30 to 10.30pm daily
Tel: 8920-0200
Info: Gary's website

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