Caffe Fernet's vegetable dishes are the stars

Crispy Golden Beetroot.
Crispy Golden Beetroot.PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
Smoked Leek.
Smoked Leek. PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
Charred Gem Lettuce.
Charred Gem Lettuce. PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
Mafaldine "Cacio E Pepe".
Mafaldine "Cacio E Pepe".PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER
Crispy Porchetta.
Crispy Porchetta.PHOTOS: THE NEW PAPER

(THE NEW PAPER) - It has been a few months since Caffe Fernet arrived on the scene. The initial round of reactions have been mixed - some fawn over it, others were oblivious to the appeal. But that never stopped the crowd.

The menu is small and predictable. But since the restaurant's aim is to highlight reinvented Italian classic dishes, it fulfilled that goal.

I am a fan of nearly every vegetable dish I had.

If chef Polo Seah - the group executive chef who worked on the menu - opens a vegetable-forward restaurant, I will be the first in line.

For me, the Crispy Golden Beetroot ($21) cemented his flair with vegetables. Golden beetroot from Holland is served with a beetroot mole, rocket and sprinkled with almond bits and feta, turning it into a multi-textural dish that has a soulful flavour.


Smoked Leek. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The Smoked Leek ($19) was heavenly. I loved the combination of the smokiness of the leek and the depth of the gorgonzola cheese, and the pecans added crunch. It must have been the cheese, but the dish - despite being a small plate item - can really fill you up.


Charred Gem Lettuce.  PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The one vegetable dish I was not that into was the Charred Gem Lettuce ($11). It was pleasant but one-note. Even with the raisins, capers and an anchovy vinaigrette, it came across flat.


Mafaldine "Cacio E Pepe". PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

Although the Mafaldine "Cacio E Pepe" ($25) is essentially pasta with pepper, it works. The ribbon-shaped mafaldine pasta is almost crunchy and it is tossed in cheese and peppercorn. That offered a trace of heat and creaminess, which complemented the pasta.


Crispy Porchetta. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

The Crispy Porchetta ($38) was presented with aplomb. But aside from the Insta-worthy plating, it did not do much for me. While it was hardly meek, no flavours really stood out. It was just a lot of obtrusive flavours competing for your attention. I ended up confused and ultimately lost interest.

 

While the menu has its hits, I was also taken in by the view.

Marina Bay is on full display and it made my heart swell with pride knowing how gorgeous my country is.

 

But while that may make you think this is great for a date, it is probably too noisy and, on the wrong night, it will be too warm and humid.

The bar also attracts a seemingly unending stream of boisterous patrons (a testament to its successful cocktail programme), so this is probably best for a gathering of like-minded friends.