I’ve heard lots about this place for a pretty long while, and I’m finally visiting it for an early birthday treat. Located along Club Street, this restaurant stands out for its minimalistic white decor that flanks the entrance.
Greeted by their bar the moment we enter the restaurant
Their dinners start at 7pm on Sundays. Arriving slightly earlier, we were led to the bar to wait while the restaurant finishes up her preparation for their dinner crowd. I found it really cute how the waiting staff apologised for us having to wait because they “had to get dressed up”. Not exactly professional, but personal, sincere, and humorous enough.
Outdoors sitting area
Indoors sitting area
There are two main areas patrons can dine at: outdoors or indoors. Undoubtedly prettier and well, more scenic, we thought sitting outside would be slightly warm and earn us lotsa mozzie bites anyway. Ultimately we were there to be fed and not become some mozzie buffet spread! In any case we weren’t short-changed with our choice to sit indoors, cause the ambience was equally good. Clean and minimalistically furnitured, the room felt spacious, yet homey and comfortable at the same time.
Basket of breads
The staff were extremely efficient: breads were served within minutes of seating, and orders were taken quickly and accurately. There were a total of 5 breads offered. From what my extremely-reliable-papillae could detect, they include a rosemary focaccia, ciabatta, multi-seed bun, olive bread, and the visually obvious bread stick. Warm and fluffy, the breads were pretty decent and tasty but nothing extraordinary. I thought the olive bread, focaccia and bread sticks were the best of the lot. Looking merely at the breads offered, OTTO Ristorante and Joel Robuchon are still the best in terms of quality and variety.
Amuse Bouche – Smoked Salmon topped with Avocado Puree
Simple, nothing fanciful; boring. Flavoured with a little lime juice, the avocado puree was a refreshing balance. Sadly this is something anyone can whip up at home with ingredients all readily available from the supermarket – like you can literally buy avocado puree now – so it wasn’t the least bit impressive.
My glass of San Pellegrino
Free glass of Prosecco for the birthday girl!
When this glass of Prosecco was suddenly brought to us my dad was like “Wait I didn’t order that.” The staff replied “Ahh well sweet 18th requires a sweet drink to celebrate the occasion.” That would’ve been extremely nice and touching – if only he’d got the age right! It was really quite funny and we were all laughing at that comment! Really great effort though I appreciated it a lot (:
Plated selection of appetisers
We ordered a total of 5 appetisers to share, and the staff very kindly offered to arrange it into 2 platters to make it easier for everyone to share. When the dish was served, every dish was gone through with us, then the staff took out this bottle of olive oil and drizzled a whole lot of it over everything. It was supposed to enhance the flavours of the dishes.
Trilogy of Artichoke – Home-marinated Artichoke, sautéed ‘Trifolati’ and puree with Summer Black Truffle ($26++)
I absolutely loved this dish! My family had some bad experiences with artichokes previously, so they were a tad apprehensive about trying this. But they were surprised to find themselves loving it! The marinated artichoke was tart, slightly sour, and most importantly it was not too soggy. The puree was well executed too: not overly mushy, with the black truffle being detectable yet not overwhelming. I don’t like truffles though so I didn’t take much of the puree.
King Tiger Prawns – Sautéed Tiger Prawns served on Black ‘Venere’ Rice Timbale with Avocado and Sicilian Orange ($28++)
Huge and juicy, the prawns were grilled to perfection, and the accompanying black rice was equally delicious. The avocado added a slight creaminess to the dish. Well thought out in terms of flavours and textures, this dish was absolutely wonderful.
Bluefin Tuna – Pan-seared Bluefin Tuna Medallions with Sesame Seeds, Eggplant puree and Eggplant ‘Caponata’ ($26++)
Crusted with sesame seeds and lightly seared on the sides, the tuna medallions were extremely fresh and moist. While it was technically flawless, I felt that it didn’t shine when compared to the other antipastis. The tuna were not heavily seasoned and tasted rather bland. The caponata was not very flavourful either and did little to elevate the dish. Waterfall cafe does a mean caponata which I’m afraid Senso is unable to match up to.
Parma Ham 18 Months – Pan-fried Buffalo Mozzarella wrapped in Parma Ham, served with Black Olives Tapenade ($28++)
This was the only dish I felt the olive oil had an effect on, lending it a mellow and slightly fruity taste which was nicely contrasted with the salty parma ham. It would have been better if the dish was hotter. Not to the point of having the mozzarella melt, but enough to warm it up.
The Goose Liver ‘Rougié’ – Pan-seared Goose Liver with caramelized Pear, mixed Salad and Balsamico di Modena Vinegar ($26++) was the only antipasti I didn’t taste because I don’t fancy foie gras. My family enjoyed it immensely though, with my mum even calling it her favourite out of the 5! I did take a bight of the poached pear though and I thought it was absolutely delightful. My first wine-poached pear and it was delish.
Linguine – Linguine Pasta with mixed Seafood in Sardinian Vermentino White Wine sauce ($30++)
Al dente noodles, flavourful and steaming broth, an abundance of fresh seafood; what more could you ask for? This is by far the best Frutti di Mare I’ve had. I find what’s most important in a Frutti di Mare to be its pasta. Not the sauce, or even the seafood, but the pasta. And Senso’s linguine were cooked perfectly. Absolutely delish.
Pappardelle XXLong – 1-meter long homemade Pappardelle with braised Wild Boar, Black Taggiasca Olives and sun-dried Tomatoes ($30++)
XXLong wow how interesting! Sadly the novelty was lost on us cause this dish was split into 2 portions, shared between my sisters, so the meter long noodle was already cut. Nevertheless the pasta was once again cooked to perfection, and tomato-based sauce was flavourful. It was a rather normal dish though and I felt that the “Wild Boar” component could be played up. It seemed more like a ragu or a rendition of Bolognaise made with pork.
Sea Bass – Tranche on grilled Zucchini, oven-baked Tomato and mashed Potatoes ($38++)
Faultless. Grilled to a crisp on the outside and still retaining its moistness, the sea bass was an absolute delight. The mashed potatoes were the smoother kinds, yet there were still little chunks here and there giving it enough texture and bite.
‘Tillmann’s’ Seafood Platter – Platter with grilled Langoustine, Sea Bass, Cod Fillet, Scallops and Prawns, Lemon Butter sauce and Cocotte of Baby Vegetables ($58++)
Another spot on dish. The extremely fresh seafood accompanied by plain and clean roasted vegetables make for a wonderfully simple yet tantalising dish. The scallops and langoustines were quite small though, and that made me rethink the hefty price tag attached to it.
Venison Medallion – Gently pan-seared Venison Medallion with Amarone Red Wine sauce and Pepper served with Traditional Games garnish, Brussels Sprouts, glazed Chestnut, small Dauphine Potatoes and Apple Redcurrant Marmalade ($48++)
Dauphine Potatoes served with the Venison
This was by far my favourite dish. Cooked medium, the venison was meltingly tender and extremely lean. There was not an ounce of fat to be found! I loved how the chestnuts were mildly sweet and extremely crunchy. Served with the marmalade, brussel sprouts were no longer just some boring fibre fulfilling the nutritional components of a meal, but an absolutely joy to be savoured. All-in-all Senso has made a lasting impression in me with their Venison Medallions.
Surprise Birthday Cake!
What restaurant could be considered a good one if they didn’t offer a birthday cake? We expected them to give a different cake though, something off menu as usually done by other restaurants. What Senso did was to convert my order of Tiramisu into my birthday cake without my notice, then not charge me for that. Hmmm.
Tiramisu ‘Senso’ – Tiramisù ‘Senso’ ($14++)
I really enjoyed their Tiramisu and if I may say it is probably the best Tiramisu I’ve had in restaurants. Not that I’ve tried many tiramisus, but most restaurants have a higher mascarpone to savoiardi ratio which I don’t prefer given my dislike for cream. Most tiramisus are also just sickly sweet, tasting more of sugar and alcohol than coffee and cocoa. Senso’s tiramisu had a much higher savoiardi ratio, wasn’t cloyingly sweet, and tasted stronger of coffee. It’s a thumbs up for me!
Lemon Tartlet ‘Big Meringue’ – Lemon Tartlet stuffed with Red Berries topped with Meringue ($16++)
I don’t hate this dish, but I certainly don’t love it. Visually impressive, cutting into it reveals an emptiness that was not at all attractive. I expected the meringue to be slightly crispy on the outside, resembling real meringues. However Senso’s rendition seemed to be simply flame-torched whipped whites, which was too creamy for me. While the shortcrust tart base was commendable, there was too little lemon curd to give the dessert a sour kick. I’ll give it to them for being generous with the fresh berries, but I’ve had so many better lemon meringue tarts at much lower prices this is not something I’d order again.
Torta Di Mele ‘Tatin’ – Apple Tart with Vanilla Ice Cream ($14++)
Not the worst I’ve had, and not the best either. The apples were both too sour and too sweet at the same time, in that they tasted sour, yet you could tell a lot of sugar was already used. The puff pastry tasted good but was too soggy after seating below the caramelised apples and melting ice cream for a while.
Chocolate – Hot dark Chocolate eruption served with Passionfruit and Vanilla Ice Cream ($18++)
Otherwise known as a molten chocolate cake, Senso’s Chocolate met every mark of a good molten chocolate cake: a crisp exterior, which when cut into gives way to a melty chocolatey mess that flows out onto the plate. It was hot, not overly sweet, chocolatey, sinful, heavenly, and I’m running out of adjectives. Paired with the cold creamy ice cream, this is one dessert that was gobbled up in a matter of seconds. The ice cream’s not really worth a mention here. I couldn’t taste the passionfruit, and in the presence of the heavenly chocolate cake, it was cast away as the side kick.
Crème Brûlée – Traditional Bourbon Vanilla with fresh Strawberries and homemade Strawberry Sherbet ($16++)
Besides the visually obvious difference, I’m quite certain that there are 2 flavours of custard featured in this dessert. The darker coloured custard tasted quite distinctly of coffee while the other’s the basic vanilla custard. It was not explicitly stated in the menu though and I didn’t ask to confirm my suspicions. I liked that the custard remained cold, and had perfectly caramelised burnt tops. Still I didn’t manage to taste the hot-cold contrast that’s supposed to arise from the immediate flame-torching prior to serving. The custards are one of the best I’ve had though, so I’m still loving this dessert (:
Selection of Italian Cheeses with Homemade Chutney($32++)
The cheeses featured in this platter are, from left to right, Fontina, Gorgonzola Piccante, Sottocenere, and Pecorino. Served with some pear chutney and fruity bread, this cheese platter is a wonderful end to the meal. The chutney wasn’t too bad, though I would have preferred a tartier fruit like berries, citrus fruits, or even my favourite fig pastes. I’m ashamed to say that for a cheese lover, I actually don’t know that much about cheese. I can only tell you for sure that I like goat’s cheese, and most hard cheeses. Their gorgonzola was good, and it was the harder, more structured of the 2 kinds of gorgonzola cheeses. The Fontina and Pecorino were both extremely tasty. I didn’t like the ash-riden flavour of the Sottocenere though.
I was immensely stuffed by now, and the staff brought me the very last surprise of the day: a little shot of limoncello. I felt bad for not having finished it, but I thought the liqueur was too much for me to stomach. Senso, however, is the very first restaurant I’ve been to that served limoncello as an after-dinner digestivo just like a traditional Italian restaurant. I’m giving them a huge thumbs up for that.
Senso is no doubt one of the better restaurants I’ve visited thus far. Not comparing it to restaurants the likes of Joel Robuchon and JAAN, if not for the quality of Senso’s food, the top notch service made it worth every penny paid. Lovers of Italian cuisine will definitely not want to sit this ressie out.
21 Club Street