Located in the very heart of Orchard / Somerset junction, Ochre Italian restaurant is a place to look out for. Classic Italian setting with white table cloths, elegant decor and good service, this place brings out the goodness in fine Italian dining.
My Duck Risotto arrived next. Being a risotto lover because I love arborio rice (the longish rice used to cook risottos), I absolutely enjoyed this dish. The gravy was creamy and flowed very smoothly with the rice. The duck meat was tender and absolutely tasty. The entire combination was just a treat for my tastebuds.
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The meal we enjoyed brought me back in time to the late 80s when I had a fabulous meal in Turin, - NE Italy, in a chateau with a valley in front of me. The meal started at 9am, and ended at 1am as the Italians dine late. Instead of a mountain, the Ion was behind me, and the valley was Orchard Rd, so sad.
Ambience: It's a lovely restaurant, set on the top floor of Orchard Central, pity the view outside isn't that fantastic but the small garden outside is enchanting. Comfortable interiors, well spaced out and cool. Lovely place settings and glassware.
Food: For starters, we had bread sticks an freshly made bread. The bread sticks, as I was told by my Italian hosts when I was in Turin, are for satiating the gastric juices before the meal begins. These bread sticks did it's job. A large packet of home made burrata - mozzarella cheese in a purse bag appeared on a base of Italian proscuito ham. Lovely combination. We used to only get Australian and local proscuito but things opened up lately and we can get Italian and Spanish cured ham. Very tasty.
Next came the pizzas - well browned crust with loads of cheese, meat and funghi - great tasting. Truffle oil drizzled on it gave it that unique smell and flavour. I was puzzled by what appeared next, it looked like something from the barn yard, but it was rissoto cooked in Barolo (a good Italian wine) and oxtail stock, it had a strange purplish tint and was unique in flavour. I thought it was squid ink rissoto at first, but it turned out to be a unique wine and oil flavoured rice. Special.
Lobster pasta was served up with the rissoto, and then we had a veal knee joint - osso-bucco, braised veal knee joint. The menu said Canadian lobster but having stayed there for 3 yrs, these lobsters were local crayfish, not the bi-pincered lobsters of Maine n Nova Scotia. I found the osso bucco a bit tough referencing it to my osso bucco in Zurich which was soft and flavourful. The chef then cut open a paper "parcel" of seafood. I expected a lovely smell from it but could smell the lack of freshness in the fish - confirmed that it was the white fish that was off. What a pity, perhaps it was that I had expected a cloud of fresh prawn / fish smell instead of the stale fish smell. Confirmed it on eating the serving. What a pity, such an opportunity wasted.
Desserts, Tiramisu, Chocolate cake, hazelnut log cake with ice cream. All desserts were among the best I've eaten here, and even in Turin.
Value: Treated to dinner but their weekend buffet is $48 + (GST only, no svc). which gives you a chance to sample all the desserts and antipasti except that you need to chose 1 main course. Try it, it's good value.
Service: Polite, unobstrusive and helpful.
They say that lightning never strikes twice.
Well, they are certainly wrong.
Twice in August did I traipse towards OChre and here's my exposition on it.
Wk 1, Visit #1
The Other Half had planned a surprise dinner at OChre and naturally, I was delighted as I'd envisioned epicurean dreams.
A lady with a stout man of foreign descent was pleasantly greeted by a female staff at OChre before they were ushered in. Guess who was left standing in the cold (not literally) thereafter?
Eventually, we were seated. A wine menu was presented but we were not in the mood for alcohol. The glasses were cleared by the same lady and the table was bare. Normalcy reigned thus far. Or so, I thought.
A lull purred, and occasionally winds of imagination glazed by.
I smiled expectantly.
It gave way to a plateau.
Then, a crinkle.
Fifteen minutes went by before we realised that the food menu was not going to magically present itself between us and the stark white table. Thus, a request was made for it.
We shared Cold Cuts as an appetiser, while I had beef and The Other Half was happy with his seafood pasta. ( I apologise, for the actual names of the dishes elude my memory.) Lava Cake was to be my dessert.
The serving of Cold Cuts was delectable and I have no complaints about it. It was probably the only item that tickled my fancy at OChre.
Twenty minutes or so passed before the main courses were served. This time frame was acceptable.
Upon tasting the beef, I was aghast. Accustomed to drapes of beef in medium well, the current slab seated on my palate was overcooked on the exterior and practically rare at its core. Still, I swallowed my chagrin along with the remnant beef.
Erstwhile, a good half an hour or so ticked by after our plates were cleared.
I waited for the Lava Cake to make its grand entrance.
It never did.
The Other Half beckoned a waiter over and presented a polite enquiry with regard to my lava cake.
Another twenty minutes trickled, with each second perforating bemusement.
Finally, we decided to cancel the order on the lava cake and asked for the bill.
A pleasant bespectacled male waiter with a lanky frame apologized profusely for the oversight and promised a serving of tea and coffee as compensation.
The aforementioned tea and coffee landed on our table, along with our bill, in no less than 20 minutes. I found that a tad amusing. However, I must commend this lad and he is not to be blamed for this dismal delay as we bore witness to his blitz around the restaurant - from the cashier to the kitchen to the tables.
The stark irony was that only a few tables were occupied and the restaurant was competently equipped with sufficient staff. This particular lad seemed to be the sole figure who was working for his dough. (The kitchen staff are excused for they are not expected to wait on tables.) Kudos to you, Mister! =)
So there you have it. The maiden voyage to gastronomical seas did not quite transpire as expected.
Our seats were warmed at 6.30 pm and charred with brutal reality as we trudged out after 9pm -- for Cold Cuts, Beef, Pasta and 2 cups of hurriedly-gulped tea. Disgruntled, I was sure that I would not return to OChre.
Boy, was I wrong ....
Wk 2, Visit #2
Unknown to yours truly, The Other Half had a pre-arranged dinner at OChre, thanks to certain perks.
Along with two colleagues and my friend, our group was seated in OChre at about 7pm.
"Perhaps the second visit would negate and nullify the aspects of my first trip," I'd mused rather enthusiastically.
I placed the exact order from the previous week - Cold Cuts, Beef and Lava Cake while the rest had their sets and main courses. Despite the prior experience, I was astute in my choice. Fastidious, if you will. I'd wanted to prove myself wrong. I'd wanted OChre to be fabulous.
My friend had a glass of wine, which was beyond the complimentary parameters, but we accepted it as a reasonable condition. No question about that.
Yet again, Time paid tribute to the ever-elusive Lava Cake and it was nowhere to be seen nor found. Only this time, we didn't bother to request for it. Once bitten, twice shy, I guess.
By now, I was sure that the Lava Cake was a mystical (and mythical) fantasy -- legendary but non-existent and its lure lay in the fact that one simply could not have her cake and eat it.
Critically aware of the duration of our previous dinner, it bore no surprise that our group left after 10pm - need I mention, without said Lava Cake.
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So there you have it - my discourse, albeit verbose, on OChre.
Firm advocates would point out that the duration of both dinners is justified for fine dining, "as in Europe".
Well, perhaps it was sheer coincidence that I had just returned from Italy / Switzerland / Paris in July and dare I say that nowhere in these countries did I experience such an agonizing wait for dinner at the various fine restaurants. Certainly not for a 3-course meal.
On local shores, I have had a meal that lasted beyond 3 hours. It was at Forlino and the spread was that of 7 courses. Hence, the fleeing of hours was expected.
A pity, really, for OChre does appear to be ambient but the resultant is that of ambivalence.
Staff training and time management are its key drawbacks.
As for that diligent male staff, he's the lone gem amongst the staff. Good job, Mister! =)
And pray, if anyone should have the sheer fortune of actually tasting the aforementioned Lava Cake, you're certainly in luck!
The ambience and decor does nthe relate to the whole experience. Evening started with drinks and the waitress did not understand what a virgin mojito was. We proceeded to start dinner ordered pastas and a pizza and the food arrived in a disorderly fashion. startEd with a salad and it was just a couple without lettuce leaves and a hard boiled egg cut in half, some bits of croutons, 1 cherry tomato and some dried ham. They continues to during on the pastas and we ordered 3 different pastas to try and each one was a absolute bland experience. Poor pasta poor seafood poor overall. Only thing that was acceptable was the pizza, we had the mushroom pizza and tho it wasn't the best pizza out there , but it was the only thing on the table that was finished.
It was an enjoyable dinner. We were told that the place quite crowded so we booked it before. Fortunately, when we were there, there is only my boyfriend and another group of family.
We choosed a 3 course meal and decided to order another pan of pizza.
The price is quite expensive but it's worthy for the food and ambience.
Must tries: Banana brulee and Angel Hair Cappelinie I also recommend this place for:
After Work, Anniversary, Business Dining, Corporate Events, Dinner, Fine Dining, Lunch, Romance/First Dates, Family Dinner
I spent $100 per person.
Must tries: Bacon Pumpkin Soup
I also recommend this place for:
After Work, Anniversary, Birthdays, Business Dining, Children/Family, Dinner, Fine Dining, Graduation, High Tea, Night Out, Private Dining, Quiet, Romance/First Dates