Your humble blogger has blogged about the history of the now-defunct Borgo, and its successors, Al Borgo and Borgata. Today, it is time for me to blog about the restaurant that took over Borgo’s premises – L’Ancora.
In terms of the interior design and decor, much of the old Borgo still remains except for the grill that Mimmo used to be helm, is now an air conditioned, walk-in dry cheese room and store. The same tables and chairs that once lined Borgo, today line L’Ancora; the bar counter, too, looks exactly as it were.
My sister and her family are regulars to this Italian joint and has, many a time, spoke of their excellent pastas. Today, I was on a mission, a mission to understand the reasons behind her many return trips.
Regular readers who have read this brief introduction before, please bare with me while I regurgitate it again:
Borgo used to be one of my old haunts when it was at its previous Bukit Timah location. However, amidst a rising rent situation, Borgo was forced to vacate and has since been replaced by Trattoria L’Ancora. L’Ancora is owned by Roy and whose chef is Chef Shaminda, previously from La Nonna, Namly Place.
Before I delve into the food review proper, allow me the opportunity to give you a brief background of Borgo. Borgo used to be helmed by 2 chefs, Grill Chef Mimmo and Pasta Chef Andre, alongside Ganesh the Manager. Chef Andre along with Ganesh decided to set up a restaurant, Borgata at Clarke Quay, in partnership with LifeBrandz. Chef Mimmo, on the other hand, chose to set up his restaurant, Al Borgo, at a cozy corner of Bukit Timah Road, closer to Newton Circus.
– Review of Al Borgo, Last Reviewed January 2010, http://www.hungryepicurean.com/2010/01/al-borgo/
To start off the meal, we had a special of the day, which was the Bacon-wrapped Prawns. Meant as a main course, both my dining partner and myself were somewhat hesistant to order this dish, as appetizing as it may have sounded. You see, our main intention of walking into L’Ancora was to have a bite of its delicious pastas that Chef Shaminda is good at. Hence, we asked Sri-Lanka born Chef Shaminda for the possibility if he could serve this as an appetizer, instead of a main course. He kindly agreed.
Wrapping fresh and juicy prawns in a thin layer of bacon is an awesome idea! Much like how they do it with beef and, in some places, cod fish. I did not really take to the cream sauce that accompanied the prawns though.
I have to say that, it was definitely a good decision to have this as an appetizer instead of a main, as it would have been rather boring as a main – flavour profile was rather one dimensional.
My dining partner ordered a Tagliatelle – Lobster with handmade flat Squid ink pasta in fresh cut cheery tomato sauce. Unfortunately, we were informed that the restaurant was out of Lobster meat and offered to replace it with Crabmeat instead.
Before you start wondering whatever happened to the flat Squid ink pasta? I gave the restaurant the benefit of the doubt and assumed that it was of Chef Shaminda’s opinion that serving the flat pasta was more suitable and not that the kitchen had got the order wrong and sent out normal pasta instead of the squid ink tagliatelle pasta.
Thankfully, the pasta dish brought smiles to my dining partner’s pretty face, which was a good sign. The homemade pasta was cooked al-dente, and the sauce was a delight to savour. The plate returned back to the kitchen void of any remaining pasta.
I looked up at the Specials board on the wall and saw Squid Ink Pasta with Baby Octopus. Immediately my eyes opened up with happiness. Alright, that was an exaggeration – I saw a risotto dish as well that piqued my curiosity.
I love my Squid Ink – It really is one of nature’s best gift to mankind. Thankfully, I am neither of the female sex nor was I on my first date AND my dining partner is not someone who gets aroused when I realize that “there’s a black smudge off the corner of my mouth”. See http://www.ladyironchef.com/2010/05/20/first-date-dinner-tips/ #3 and you will get my drift.
The pasta was cooked al-dente and the squid ink adds this very distinct flavour that makes any pasta dish literally come alive. When I was first offered a squid ink dish a few years ago, I was thinking what is that black sauce? I tried it then, and have never looked back since.
It is hard for me to think of a phrase that accurately describes the taste of squid ink besides, adding fifth flavour – umami. But it is so distinct that, you can pinpoint it in a blind tasting session.
Unfortunately, the picture does not do justice to the baby octopus but trust me, L’Ancora was very generous with these firm, slightly chewy, yet tender gifts from the sea.
While both of us were contemplating which dessert to have, 2 plates of Tiramisu were sent to our table, with compliments from the owner, Roy.
So dessert was decided for us. The dessert was the perfect sweet ending to the meal. It was neither outstanding nor was it disappointing; but I was glad to have it as a post-dinner treat.
After the Tiramisu, we wanted to try more of L’Ancora’s desserts.
Initially, there was a small confusion between the kitchen and the wait staff. We were told that the Panna Cotta was out of stock, but when we told Chef Shaminda, who had come out to see how was the meal, he looked puzzled and told us that there was still Panna Cotta available.
The Panna Cotta was decent, only a little too soft for my liking though.
My dining partner wanted to try the Gelato but disappointment was all that she got. It tasted too artificial for her liking and I agreed completely with that comment.
789 Bukit Timah Road
Tel: +65 6467 3778