January 20, 2011

Christmas Eve Lunch @ Aurora

For Christmas, I really wanted to go somewhere special. Most people opt for big, fabulous buffets for the occasion. Unfortunately, I really hate buffets (generally because I think the quality of the food suffers from being offered at such quantity), so I decided to go to a nice hotel (The Altira) for a prix fixe lunch instead. The above picture is the festively decorated elevator room that brings you to the hotel restaurants.
The decor really is quite impeccable.
Inside the restaurant, the space is bright and elegant with large windows that allow plenty of sunlight to soak the room. In fact, my mom complained that it was a little too bright.
I guess lunch on Christmas Eve doesn't feel as festive as dinner, but lunch is much cheaper than dinner!
I was immediately very impressed by the beautiful bread basket! I am a huge fan of bread, so I was extremely excited to sample so many different types. I tried to limit myself to eating only a quarter of each variation to save room for the rest of the meal. Truthfully, most of them were pretty bland and not warm enough, but they were very nicely presented..
Ever since our trip to Europe, we've fallen in love with squid ink pasta. So it was an easy choice for us when we saw squid ink spaghettini with lobster broth and ocean prawn on the menu. The pasta was quite good, particularly after our server dressed it up with some freshly grounded pepper to mask any unpleasant seafood flavour. However, I found the sauce to be a touch too salty.
 The other first course we chose was the carnaroli risotto with baby spinach, crustaceans and zucchini. Again, this was overly salty, but I did appreciate the rich seafood flavour in the sauce. The risotto was also quite nicely cooked.
This is the Wagyu Beef Cheek; celeriac and parsnip puree, broccoli and shiraz red wine sauce. Although in appearance, it resembles a cut of steak. In reality, the beef was braised and melt-in-your-mouth tender. The sauce was delectable and complemented the meat well.
We also enjoyed the pistachio crusted Japanese cod fillet, with vegetable casserole and pumpkin puree. I don't really like cod unless it's cooked really well, and luckily it was in this dish. I also particularly liked the pistachio crusting that added texture to the fish.
Vanilla panna cotta, strawberry marinated in lavender syrup and caramel ice cream. I didn't really care for the panna cotta, but what stood out was the caramel ice cream. It was creamy, rich and delicious. My mom, who is a big caramel fan, really loved the ice cream.
Meanwhile, I had the hot chocolate fondant with caramelized banana and Italian pistachio for dessert. It was a pretty good, but not outstanding dessert, and the cake's center was runny enough to satisfy me. The accompanying vanilla ice cream really paled in comparison to the caramel ice cream from my mom's dessert, however. All in all, it was a nice, rich dessert to end a delicious meal.
Pizza was one of the options on the menu, and you would see the chefs prepare it fresh right in front of the open kitchen.
We had quite a wonderful time here, and for fine dining, this place is quite reasonably priced.
奧羅拉 Aurora

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