Il Cielo, Singapore – an accomplished cucina
Editor’s note: There is a new chef presiding here.
The enjoyment of dining out should be much more than the food. The setting, the service, the wine, the provenance of both the ingredients and the chef, all play a part. At Il Cielo, abutting the roof top pool at Singapore’s Hilton, the package is pretty much complete.
On the 24th floor, the view is down Orchard Road and, at night, it’s a twinkling panorama of lights. The restaurant is open to the pool area and it’s a pleasant place to sit. The service is also very good – relatively knowledgable and authentically warm. There was a black truffle promotion on the evening we visited and although the temptation to order truffle with every course (including an almond ice cream and truffle for dessert), Greedy Girl knows only too well that there is such a thing as truffle overload.
Greedy Girl, of course, couldn’t resist ordering a truffle dish for her main, but more on that later. Having already partaken of happy hour at our hotel, Greedy Girl sipped on a glass of a very acceptable Valpolicella, enjoyed the quickly setting sun and awaited our food.
The chef at Il Cielo is Milan native Omar Bernardi. According to his bio, he started out his working life in the Ferrari factory and that ‘fired his passion for cooking’. The linkage, sadly, is not explained. If working for Ferrari taught him attention to detail, it certainly shows in his food.
First up was a ‘stuzzichino’ – Greedy Girl was very impressed that the waiter used the Italian word for snack rather than the ubiquitous ‘amuse bouche’. This was a square of polenta, topped with a prawn and bottarga (fish roe) shaved over the top. Just the tiny amount of bottarga reminded Greedy Girl why she never ordered it in a bigger dish – it’s a powerful flavour.
Polenta, prawn and bottarga
We opted to share a starter, a risotto of porcini and balsamic-glazed quail (pictured at the top of this blog). Instead of one dish and two forks (which is exactly what Greedy Girl expected) it was expertly plated up in two bowls. It was sensational. The quail was tender and the addition of the balsamic gave it a slight sweetness. The porcini were delightful and a frond of rosemary gave the dish an extra flavour and perfume. The serving was certainly generous.
We were then offered a palate cleanser. This was another surprise – a rosemary granita. The flavour was a little unusual but it certainly did the trick and it was a perfect addition to a Singapore meal.
It was on to main courses. Greedy Girl had black angus tenderloin with robiola cheese and endives, topped with liberal shavings of black truffle. The cheese was a revelation – it hails from the Piedmont region of northern Italy and is often made with three types of milk, cow, sheep and goat. It had a tangy flavour and went extremely well with the beef. It did, however, tend to overshadow the truffle. The beef was absolutely beautiful – it had softness, flavour and texture. The plate also featured some purple potato mash, a jus and a few vegetables. Delish, although Greedy Girl left most of the endive for gluttonous husband, finding it a little too bitter.
Black Angus tenderloin with robiola cheese and endives
Gluttonous husband went for the black Iberico pork. This was served with smoked potato, Brussels sprouts and a morel sauce. It was very tender and gluttonous husband pronounced it a lovely plate of food. He even tried the sprouts but, unsurprisingly, most of them were left on the plate. Like the endive, they were just too bitter.
Black Iberico pork
The servings here are generous. Feeling rather full, we opted to share a dessert. This was an exceedingly yummy tortino al cioccolato. Essentially, a dark chocolate fondant served with an intense raspberry coulis and what the menu described as spiced vanilla ice-cream, sitting on top of a very welcome pile of Oreo cookie crumbs. The ice-cream was spicy but the nature of the spice couldn’t be discerned. Anyone out there in the blogosphere who’s had this dish and knows what the secret ingredient is, please let Greedy Girl know. The dish was a delightful end to a wonderful meal.
Tortino al cioccolato
But wait, there’s more. Even though we didn’t opt for coffee to finish, the wait staff brought out these mini-treats. They were tiny lemon meringue slices and packed a serious wallop of sweetness. In a sugar haze, we paid the bill and decamped.
Lemon meringue slices
This is very fine Italian food but be warned that you’re in for a power of food if you were to choose the traditional three courses. Greedy Girl definitely wants to discover more from this chef’s cucina.
Singapore Hilton, 581 Orchard Road