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La Barca

October 29, 2011

I don’t suppose, at this point of time, that many residing around the Katong area of Singapore realise that deep inside Goodman Rd (off Tanjong Katong) is a brand-new restaurant named La Barca, owned and helmed by one-Michelin-star chef Michele Sorrentino, who earned his star in 1999 and held it till he sold off his restaurant in Siena in 2009 to move to Singapore. La Barca is a classy and sophisticated setup in the most unlikely of places. Unlike other better known establishments where star chefs lend their names to their restaurants without being around, maestro Sorrentino is permanently on site, and personally sees to the creation of every dish that is ordered. While the service is smart and attentive, it still has some way to go (perhaps a tad more subtlety may help) before it can vie for star status (if the Michelin guide ever comes to Singapore) although the quality of its Italian fare is already right there at the very top. Starters of whipped cod and raw tuna were utterly fresh and inviting, oozing with natural flavours, whilst the traditional first course of pasta, available in several styles, combines the rusticity of traditional Tuscany cooking with the lighter touch of modern cuisine. Of the main courses, the greatest draw must be the 1.1 kg of T-bone beef, which maestro Sorrentino personally carves by your tableside into thinner slices, revealing the glorious perfection of his culinary art, the steak barely seasoned yet downright juicy on the inside, practically melting in your mouth. Utterly sublime. It is so good that it even eclipses the best efforts of Bedrock Grill.

We washed down the succulent steak with a magnum of 2006 Ch Grand-Puy-Lacoste, which was popped on site and drunk over the next 2 hours. This is the third occasion (all from magnum) I’ve had this wine, the current being the most impressive. Deep ruby red with notes of blueberries and some darker fruits, already accessible from the first pour where its soft body and unobtrusive tannins glided down the hatch with utmost ease. It fleshed out over time, gaining in some salty minerality, the tannins turning more chewy at the finish, but it never strayed from its medium-bodied elegance. Not much of a Pauillac signature at this stage, and I suspect it may shut down over the next few years before blossoming into an even more lovely drop. Hold.

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