Mission: To respond thoughtfully and responsibly to my experiences of drinking and dining at restaurants with regard to the quality, service, preparation, presentation and overall experience received thereat. The standpoint is one who respects the crafts of the chef and sommelier and who seeks to understand their choices in the kitchen and cellar and grow in knowledge. In this, I will seek to be fair, reasoned, direct and constructive and aim to keep my ego in check on our mutual journeys through the worlds of food and wine.

Friday, October 11, 2013

Italian Fare at Bavarian Bierhaus

Brief note oon a dinner we had at Bavarian Bierhaus in Wisma UOA on Jalan Pinang last night. It was an Amante della Cuccina Italiana function. Yeah, we didn't get it at first, but the Executive Chef is Massimo Zampar who hails from Udinese in the north. 

Seems he offered to do an Italian dinner for the Amante for the usual price as a buffet style dinner - plates shared between diners and RM50 corkage instead of the usual RM80. Which is stiff given the context of the place. The wines on offer there were pretty low end and charging RM120 a bottle is quite an ask. Also trying to get a wine list from the (I presume) manager proved impossible. He kept saying "Red or White?" and it ended up feeling a little like we were in Petaling Street where I could negotiate the price. He didn't really know his wines and seemed not to appreciate that I did, which became a bit irritating. In the end we went for beer and got stiffed RM60 for two German style grogs. Memo to self - next time go for the Happy Hour Guinness. 

We had a brief lesson on Italian from Eik Ming (a language teacher) and out came the food, a bit late due to traffic delays from a massive rainstorm (indeed our geusts had to give up on getting into town - standstill traffic).

First was an Antipasto of mix cold cuts, Mozzarella caprese salad, Grilled scallops with bacon and mushroom ragout and bruschetta with tomato and sardine. Bruschetta was lovely with the sardine giving an anchovy salt bite to the butter toasted bread. Salad was fine, the scallops were a bit strange as a result of the bacon and ragout mix - it pretty much drowned the scallop and relegated it to texture more than anything to taste. Very nice texture it must be said, but it felt as if the ragout was fighting with the fish and the whole felt a bit snuzz. Cold cuts were okay, but there's always a context in what can be imported and when. Given this, the inclusion of the cold cuts of salami, parma, lardo and cooked ham was fantastic and well appreciated. Nothing like a plate of pig meats to get people in the mood.

Primo dishes were homemade Ravioli with ricotta, spinach and tomato and Homemade tagliatelle with scallop mushroom and bacon. The Ravioli was brilliant - full bite pasta around fresh spinach ricotta in a herby tomato sauce. Total authentic and wonderful taste - the dish of the night. The Tagliatelle was runner up in the dish stakes - full and hearty it satisfied as only pasta and mushroom sauce can. 

The Secondo Main courses were pork ribs, a mixed sausage platter and the roasted pork knuckle. These were a bit of a disappointment. The ribs were well cooked but the marinade felt a bit overdone, with the result that there seemed to be a vinegar tinge on the rib. They had been well braised in the oven, so tenderness was very good. The sausages were filling and hearty and a great selection, but somehow oily. The Knuckle felt dry and tired. Again, there's a context and perhaps all this protein coming at once was a bit overpowering. It was explained that this was a similar style to that of the German neighbours to the north but that this offering had an Italian twist to it. Well, and maybe, though it is difficult not to wonder if this is more needing to maintain the image of the Bierhaus as a masculine pig knuckle and beer place and I guess Chef having signed up top cook for the place pretty much has to get on with it and deliver what the boss wants. it feels like Chef's calling is clearly with his homeland roots. Should be interesting when he gets his own Italian place. Which he will. Talent always outs. 

Dessert of Marscapone cheese on ladyfinger was pleasant and creamy. Didn't try the mousse but the ice cream was also creamy in a less sugary kind of way. Pretty much out of belly space by this time. Service was quick and efficient, and a nice smile from the little girl who got a tip from me. Not sure I enjoyed being sat up on a stool German bar style eating Italian food, but that was the deal. No one could have any complaints about the food quality nor the amounts served. Great value from the Amante perspective. For me, not sure that I'd go back for the knuckle on this outing, more so given that the beer and wines felt pricey. Would love to find a really good knuckle place. The Eurodeli that used to live on Jalan Yap Kwan Seng is sorely missed whilst I refuse to go to Changkat Bukit Ceylon due to the lack of parking and the sleazy feel of the area. 

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