More from Restaurants & Bars

Restaurants & Bars China & Southeast Asia

Oso in Singapore

cimui | | Dec 31, 2007 10:54 AM

There don't seem to be a lot of reviews of restaurants in Singapore that aren't located in hawkers' centers or food courts -- or that aren't No Signboard -- so I thought I'd throw one out there.

I had dinner at Oso Ristorante, an Italian restaurant on Tanjong Pagar Rd., on New Year's Eve. Contrary to someone's claim that you can't find bad food in Singapore, Oso delivered up more disappointments than it did hits. As a general criticism, dishes were often broken up into their disparate parts with little to tie it all together, and almost all dishes were undersalted.

My dining companion and I had the caprese style salad and minced crab appetizer to start. The caprese salad came with giant chunks of tomato and a giant slab of mozzarella plopped down in the middle of the plate. Salads, by design, are not supposed to make you work the knife so hard. Also, the dish came with no balsamic vinegar or olive oil or salt, and only dried basil, which made for pretty bland eating. The crab meat, while unobjectionable, was served on a plate with greens on the northwest corner, a wee bit of cherry tomato and two orange slivers on the southwest corner, and a roasted pepper puree to the northeast. Each of these elements was individually tasty, and it was interesting to try all 120 combinations of ingredients to see how everything fit together best, but in the end, the appetizer was completely missing a lietmotif. The sweetness of the vegetable puree overpowered the mild flavor of crab. The tomatoes and oranges didn't go together at all; nor did they go with the roasted red pepper puree or crab. I was left with the distinct feeling of eating five separate ingredients rather than a single, coherent dish.

Entrees fared little better. I had the salt crusted halibut with broccoli and my dining companion had the veal medallions served with apples and, I think, lingonberry. My halibut was, without warning (the menu failed to mention it at all), drowned in an overwhelming butter sauce that completely overpowered the delicate taste of the fish. The broccoli, a single floret, was understeamed to a hard, nearly raw lump, with no added salt. The plate's oversauced, undersalted split personality really reminded me of a first attempt of a fifties housewife learning to cook, though to Oso's credit, the fish was cooked for the proper amount of time. The veal was delicious, but the apples and lingonberry served with it were, to my palate, too sweet and overwhelmed the more mildly flavored meat. It was also served in tiny portions, even for a person of small appetite.

We closed the meal with lemon ricotta cheesecake, which was, to our disappointment, of the floury variety more akin to pound cake than the creamy goodness that I associate with the term. To be fair, Italian style cheesecake has more flour added for a drier, more cakey texture -- but this went beyond the cakiness of Italian cheesecake. It was, literally, sheet cake that included lemon and ricotta as two minor players.

Wines by the glass (we had a chardonnay, shiraz and semillion) were decent, if overpriced. Reds were served at a good temperature, though whites were too cold.

The best part of the meal was the teeny box of chocolate chip something -- cookie dough? dense cake? -- they handed to us in honor of New Year's Eve, as we were leaving the restaurant.

Total for the meal was about S$100 per person. It's possible that I was unlucky, ordering -- but with this many misses, I'm unlikely to try the place, again. I can't wait to have congee first thing tomorrow morning to cleanse my palate.