Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Dining Out: Dolce Vita Restaurant (Mandarin Oriental) Singapore

Good Day Everyone,

For a while there I’d gotten into a good routine of posting blog posts on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday but I missed this Monday – I’m sorry. I’m struggling a fair bit at the moment with my right hand. Another finger has become arthritic and my wrist just seems to be getting weaker so I’ve been avoiding typing for a few days but I’m hoping to get back on track :o)
Mandarin Oriental pool and view of the Singapore Flyer
On the weekend my hubby took me for dinner at the Dolce Vita restaurant based in the Mandarin Oriental (MO). Whilst we’ve stayed and dined at the MO in Kuala Lumpur (amazing!) we’ve never dined (or stayed) at the MO in Singapore and so I was super excited. The Dolce Vita restaurant is a poolside restaurant that serves Italian cuisine. As we were going for a romantic meal, I didn’t have any intention of taking photos, other than a few for myself but not for my blog and so I didn’t take my grown up camera. However, as soon as we arrived and I saw the stunning views I immediately (mentally) kicked myself.  So I only have photos taken with my iphone which are pretty rubbish but hopefully they give you a bit of an insight into our experience.
Pool view indoor table
My hubby had reserved an indoor table with a poolside view so that we could take in some of the Singaporean skyline as the sunset (the restaurant is on the 5th floor). We had partial views of the Singapore Flyer (London Eye equivalent) and the famous Marina Bay Sands (MBS) hotel. It was lovely to see the colour changes in these landmarks as we transitioned from daylight into darkness and the Flyer was colourfully lit up and room lights came on at the MBS. We even saw parts of the laser light show that happens from MBS three times a night. 
View from our table of MBS
View from our table of the Singapore Flyer
 I loved how comfortable the dining chairs were. Being a pool side restaurant the chairs were beachy-esque in that they had thick padded yellow and white striped cushions to sit on and as backrests. One of my biggest gripes is uncomfortable restaurant chairs and that gripe has only gotten worse since I developed arthritis in my spine and hips because my joints start to ache if I’m sat down for too long esp. on a hard surface. The chairs made me very happy indeed… what can I say, I’m easily pleased ;o)

The service was impeccable, as you’d expect from the MO. Our waitress asked about any dietary requirements and advised accordingly. She also highlighted dishes where ingredients could be omitted so that they were in line with our dietary requirements. Whilst we are not vegetarian per se, both my hubby and I eat a predominantly vegetarian diet. We’re not keen on fish, don’t eat seafood and rarely eat meat. Typically, in a lot of restaurants I often feel that vegetarians get the short straw. The food options tend to be rather predictable and boring. However, the Dolce Vita did an amazing job!

One of the things that I love about dining at the MO restaurants is the old school practices from the waiter/waitress draping the cloth napkin over your lap to the complimentary table water and breadbasket through to the amuse bouche and asking how we enjoyed each course. These little touches really make you feel well cared for and special. I really could not fault the service or the experience at all.
Amuse bouche of tomato gazpacho
Bread basket with an assortment of spreads
 Once seated and having placed our order, we were brought the complimentary bread basket with an assortment of spreads as well as balsamic vinegar and olive oil. The bread rolls were warm and firm on the outside whilst being pillowy soft on the inside. I particularly enjoyed the rosemary bread roll and the basil cream spread was divine. My hubby enjoyed the black olive bread roll and both of the tomato based spreads.

To start, I had the wild mushroom soup with mushroom duxelle and white truffle foam. When the starter was served it came minus the mushroom soup which the waitress brought separately and poured into the white truffle foam from what looked like a teapot... it felt like a bit of a soup ceremony ;o). Whilst the portion size of the soup may look small, partly down to the huge rim of the bowl it is served in, I can assure you it was not a small portion. This has got to be hands down the best mushroom soup I have ever tasted! I cannot put into words how tasty and altogether delicious this was. Even my hubby, who is not a fan of mushroom soup in the slightest, was compelled to admit that this was incredible and he even said that he would be ordering it next time!

My hubby started his meal with the traditional Apulia burra ta mozzarella cheese served with heirloom tomatoes, black olive soil, micro rocket cress and basil pesto. The mozzarella portion was simply huge, and according to my hubby it was the best mozzarella he’s had since we moved to Singapore. Needless to say he thoroughly enjoyed his starter.

For main, I decided to have a pasta based dish. I rarely eat past (don’t like the effect it has on me) but I figured if ever I was going to have good pasta, an Italian restaurant based in a five start hotel would be the place and so I had hand crafted tortellini stuffed with semi-dried tomatoes, pecorino and pine nuts, served with basil pesto. The serving came with five large pieces which were crafted to resemble swans (I think). The stuffing was full of flavour and very generous in size, and on the whole the pasta was cooked to perfection. The corners of the tortellini were a little bit too al dente for my liking but the actual stuffed part of the pasta was cooked perfectly. Having had way too many bread rolls and filled myself with the amazing mushroom soup I could only manage three of the five pieces of tortellini. Our waitress did ask whether there was something wrong with the dish, as I hadn’t finished it but it was simply a case of lack of belly space. My hubby had penne pasta with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and parmigiano reggiano which he enjoyed but also struggled to finish. Unfortunately I don’t have a photo, not even a rubbish one, of his main course but as you can see from the other photos the presentation was beautiful.

After a bit of a breather, we opted to share a dessert between us and had this fantastic mango and pineapple custard encased in a soft yet firm, but not kept for hours in the fridge firm, short crust pastry base with coconut ice cream. As well as tasting the coconut you could also feel the shreds of coconut within the ice cream which was very nice indeed. The dessert was decorated with meringue and fruit pieces and coulis.

The service throughout the meal was excellent. Our waitress asked how each course was and if everything was ok after she noted that my hubby and I did not finish our main courses. We were given enough of a breather between each course, our table water was topped up regularly, and we were offered black pepper and Parmesan for our starters and main courses. All in all it was a wonderful meal and experience. After we finished and my hubby settled the bill, we stood out by the pool and took in the stunning views of Singapore by night. 

Being the MO the Dolce Vita isn’t cheap, as you’d expect, but it wasn’t as expensive as I thought it might have been either. After trying a few of the hotel buffets around Singapore where we’ve paid upwards of SGD$100 (£50) per person for food that has been luke warm and bland we’ve come to the conclusion that buffets are just not for us, not even at the five star restaurants. Buffets are great if you have a large appetite and/or love seafood as that’s where people get value for money, but my hubby and I don’t eat seafood nor are we big eaters and so we would much rather go for a fine dining a la carte experience. Our meal at the Dolce Vita cost less than SGD$100 per head and we had two (non-alcoholic) drinks on top of the aforementioned food.

With delicious Italian food coupled with stunning views and excellent service, the Dolce Vita makes for a wonderful dining experience whether it’s a special occasion or not. I have recommended it to so many of our friends and am eagerly looking forward to our next visit… after all my hubby did say he would have the mushroom soup next time… so I guess there will be a next time ;o)

Have you dined at the Dolce Vita? What was your experience? Which other restaurants would you recommend in Singapore for a great dining experience?

Love Sheen xxx

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