Dolce Vita, Oriental Singapore
Dolce Vita on the fifth floor of the Oriental Hotel in Singapore (6885-3551) sounded Italian, but actually features a Mediterranean menu (in my defense, it wasn't my choice to come to a Mediterranean restaurant again - someone else arranged this business lunch). I was a bit concerned at first, seeing that it was a hotel poolside restaurant with a menu featuring names so elaborate that you needed a secret decoder ring to figure it out. For instance, the Executive Set Lunch started with some sort of "Cappucino of champignon with [blah, blah, blah, blah, blah]." Just to be sure, I asked the staff about it before she explained to me that it was simply "mushroom soup" (even if I knew much French - which I don't - I think I would still have preferred a simpler description). To add to the snootiness, the soup had a healthy dallop of foam on top, which to me is just pointless. I was disappointed in the taste at first too since I was expecting a Campbell's (ha ha) Cream of Mushroom richness, only to find that it was thin instead. But once I got past that bias, I realized that this was actually really good in its own right: it was light and full of mushroom flavor. Hmmm...things were starting to show some promise.
Then came the seabass, which also surprised me. This very fresh and tasty fish was done just right, sitting on some mildly spicy lentils, but without being too overpowering. A few selected red peppercorns added the occasional amount of surprise and character to it too (hey - nice touch!). Finally came the dessert, which was just a straighforward - but appropriately refreshing - sorbet and strawberry combo.
I was impressed. Normally I frown upon chichi places like this for concentrating too much on making it look pretty rather than focusing on the taste of the food itself. Dolce Vita, on the other hand, had achieved both, which I was not expecting. This was one of the few times where I had found fancy-looking food to actually taste really good too.