Celebrating Monti’s 1-Year Anniversary
Considering Monti’s drop-dead gorgeous harbour side view of the Marina Bay and the surrounding promenade, you’d think the standard of eating around the postal code area would be pretty high.
Suffice to say, Monti lives up to that expectation. Furthermore, it has a ‘hefty’ one-year experience now under its belt buckle to expound the tale.
Upon stepping into the luxurious grounds, it’s difficult not to be overwhelmed by the luxe decor of the establishment—jewelled tones highlighted by velvet furnishings, polished copper bar tops and monochromatic marble structures interrupting convoluted back alleys leading to private spaces. There’s no denying it, this classic elegant space is destined for bigger things. It’s lofty ceiling to floor windows displaying killer views of the marina promenade immediately puts you in a transfixing mood.
My last visit—a brunch session presented itself in lacklustre ways with a thirty-minute wait for Eggs Benedict. Where ala-carte brunch service was concerned, the decision to assemble cheese boards in the kitchen clearly showed that the kitchen was out of their depths. Thankfully, after a few adjustments to the kitchen rosters, the heart of the restaurant shakes off the dust to reveal Head Chef, Felix Chong weaving magic in the form of Modern Italian cuisine. Fortunately for me, I had the opportunity to sample some of his creations, designed in celebration of the restaurant’s one-year anniversary.
If you can, aim for a seat next to the vast outward slant of window panelling that surrounds the restaurant, allowing you to look out over the bay area. It’s a million dollar view and the restaurant has committed a serious decorating budget to stemware and plates to compliment the ritzy experience. The cooking is very clean here; each dish embodying specific techniques or ingredients to offer homage to its Italian roots.
I never say ‘no’ to bread starters when at an Italian restaurant and Monti’s Onion and Thyme Sea Salt Bread Roll is better in reality than its golden tanned towering heights. The accompanying tube of house-smoked nori butter studded with sesame and seaweed furikake can do away with its unnecessary flourishes; the end roll impeding me from effectively enjoying the full serve. But I’m willing to lay that down in view of its eloquent and rich personality. After all, butter, in many situations can be very persuasive.
The Seared Hokkaido Scallop kicks off the gastronomical trail, it’s combination with celeriac puree, porcini mushrooms, chestnuts and truffle caviar so balanced that no one ingredient seemed to be in the lead. Sure, there’s no major reinventing of the wheel happening in this dish, but instead, techniques are nailed, resulting in an ethereal experience. There’s a Seared White Cod, artistically plated with flicks of squid ink and smoked almond romesco sauce on opposite sides of the shallow dish. Wrapped gingerly with parma ham that retains an excellent exterior crunch, the unctuous package derives acidity and saltiness from the accompanying Mediterranean olives, while a fresh bed of kale and sautéed asparagus do more than just adding colour to the plate—it’s slight bitterness pivotal in highlighting the suppleness of that perfectly cooked fish.
Truffle pomme puree form the best cradle for the agonisingly tender 48-hour sous vide beef short rib. It straddles Italian culinary borders with a dash of Barolo wine sauce. Okay, so let me deliberate before you go down, I would highly recommend the White Cod over the Beef Short Rib; a seemingly unexpected decision seeing my inclination towards the red meat species. Reason being the lack of textures in the latter being its one shortfall, and no, crispy toast accompaniments don’t count.
Vegetarians aren’t left out in this soiree as well—the lunch menu is available in a thoroughly revised version that doesn’t come across as a knock-off from the original. For appetisers, there is Sicilian eggplant caponata creating a lush atmosphere alongside soft pillows of burrata cheese and backed up by the sweet choruses of heritage tomatoes. Its dark purple undertones have a distinct sharp acidity from the briny capers and olives, and this sweet satisfaction highlights the provenance of the burrata perched above. For mains, it’s a tough fight between the house-made Tagliatelle and the Acquerello Risotto. I admire the effort required to transform what reads like a standard bunch of ingredients (tomato, asparagus, green peas and kale)—you’ll find on a grocery list, into a stellar vegetarian dish. Trust me, the pasta will have you deliberating your choice of short ribs. Similarly, with the Risotto which spreads like a glossy seductress on a plate, the mantecatura of black parmesan—Bella Lodigiano—right at the end resulting in a rich and intensely savoury treat. Porcini mushrooms provide a meaty chew in between bites and a surprise crunchiness comes from a sprinkle of toasted pistachios. Being a vegetarian may seem advantageous at this juncture.
The Red Wine Poached Pear possesses a comforting nature. It’s flavours underscored by a sense of rich woody earthy spice. Red wine jelly conspiring to add festive cheer to this classic dessert.
In celebration of its 1st birthday, Monti rolls out a 3-course weekday lunch menu for just $48++ per adult and one dines free with every paying adult. This deal is kryptonite. Grab your colleague, your boss, your neighbour, or anybody.
One would imagine the spacious natural lit dining room emitting some serious regal feels as night falls, with its huge curved glass windows, gold finishings and blue velvet chairs. But while the design and drinks list project ‘fine dining’, the menu is not ostentatiously foreign. Treat yourself to a tiramisu, there’s nothing pretentious nor patronising in the pudding.