Thursday, August 23, 2012

Our first ever official date night at Rossini's

There are pros and cons to raising a kid in a foreign land. One of the most apparent con is that Noah has become a compulsory accessory wherever we go. As we have no relatives here, there is absolutely no choice of leaving him somewhere and going out by ourselves, unless we have close relatives visiting or have a maid of course, though we are temporarily not considering the latter as having one would present its own set of problems.

Therefore, when my mother-in-law and sister-in-law came for a visit a couple of weeks ago and agreed to "jaga" Noah for one evening, I sprang into action to make sure our first ever date night after Noah's arrival would be an unforgettable one. Yes, you guessed it, being the foodie I am, I made a booking (though it was not necessary) at Rossini's, the renowned Italian restaurant at Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit Hotel recently made more famous by its Executive Chef Stefano Merlo, who gloriously defeated Chef Ian Kittichai on Thailand's version of Iron Chef. Chef Ian is easily the chef I admire the most in Thailand, so naturally I would like to try out Rossini's food to experience the hype.

After examining the menu, I decided not to create a huge hole in my pocket and gave the Iron Chef menu a miss. I am also not that interested in tasting bull's testicles seared to femininely-delicate perfection. It just feels a little wrong. I will let their standard ala-carte dishes and set dinner do the talking.

Being a fine Italian restaurant, the dinner naturally started off with some bread, and it was some good warm bread, which can be re-filled at our pleasure. Not a bad way for a hungry couple to begin our date night.

As many good restaurants do these days, they serve a complimentary starter from the chef, which is a nice touch, but only if the dish is excellent. For everyone still guessing what this black mess is, it's called cuttlefish with squid ink and potato froth, and it's really quite an intricate starter. The cubes of cuttlefish flesh were so tender and fragrant I wanted to ask if I could have an additional serving of free starter, haha.

carpaccio di manzo rucola e grana ( beef carpaccio with rocket and parmesan cheese )
Taking a picture to remember my first try of raw beef
So here comes my first course, beef carpaccio! It took me so long to try raw beef because of my first visit to Paris, where I sat in a restaurant serving beef carpaccio and beef tartar buffet, with French locals around me gorging down endless servings of raw minced/sliced beef with bread. I really should not have, but I felt a little sick, especially after I saw the blood oozing out of my pan-fried duck breast when I sliced it open.

But anyway, that was ages ago, and I have now overcome my fear of raw beef with Rossini's delightfully fresh carpaccio served with my favourite rocket and some very fruity Balsamic reduction.

tagliatelle alla bolognese
My second course was a medium-sized serving of home-made tagliatelle with classic bolognaise sauce. I am a BIG lover of pasta, that's why I did not expect anything less than excellence from a fine Italian diner's. I didn't find it unforgettable, but  looking at this picture after not having it for a couple of weeks, I guess I really do miss it now.

maialino da latte arrosto con funghi ( italian roasted suckling pig with mushrooms )
Li Li before she munched into her main course

Li Li ordered the most expensive main course on the ala carte menu, and it was the one dish that pushed the dinner experience over the roof. Nothing much could go wrong if you serve an aromatic crunchy pork skin on top of thick succulent pork with the texture of gourmet ham with nice sauce and potato mash. Li Li has the knack of choosing all the right courses almost every single time, and she did it again. 

I am not going to tell you the name of my main course, because the less said of it the better. Despite its beautiful presentation, it is one of the most underwhelming dishes I have eaten in a restaurant of this stature in a while. My only comment is "I would be better off with a bigger serving of the pasta".

Classic tiramisu
Despite a brief anticlimax at the fish course, the dinner ended off with a bang. Rossini's classic tiramisu was probably the best way to complete a fine Italian dining experience, coupled with a cup of latte and some free chocolate ganache.

Finally, a date night!
Rossini's food was generally very pleasing, and the impeccable service and classy atmosphere means that we will be back again even though one of our courses was extremely disappointing. So far, no restaurant has impressed us more than Chef Herve's Le Beaulieu, but while they struggle to complete renovating their new location, we have found another great food hideout.

When will we have our next date night? Relatives and friends (with confidence to take care of Noah alone for a few hours), if you are reading this, for our sake, please plan a visit soon!

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