Casa Verde in the evenings is quite different from how it is at breakfast/lunch. The shutters come down at the open counter so there’s a cosier look and feel, and soft lighting rather than harsh daylight also make it look a lot more like a legitimate restaurant rather than the almost fast food joint appearance during the day.
As we mentioned previously, Casa Verde is a collaboration with Buko Nero’s Chef Oscar. However, let’s just get one thing straight – this is not Buko Nero. Chef Oscar roped in a childhood friend to be the chef here, and he apparently consults on the dinner menu that changes either fortnightly or monthly. But apart from the selection of crostinis that are inspired by the ones served at Buko Nero, that’s the extent of the similarity. If you just bear that mind, then you’ll keep your expectations in check and won’t be disappointed.
There are two separate crostini platters – one hot and one cold. Each platter costs $16 for 6 crostinis – 2 of each kind. The hot crostinis are:
- Braised pork belly and rosemary
- Seared sea scallops and crispy parma ham
- Porcini mushrooms and fontina cheese with truffle oil
And the cold ones are:
- Gorgonzola cheese and strawberry with balsamico glaze
- Beef and hardboiled egg salad
- Crab meat, basil and caramelised red onion
We tried both platters. Among the cold ones, I actually like the gorgonzola and strawberry one best. The crab meat one was a bit generic, and you couldn’t taste much meat in the beef one. The beef was minced rather than a whole slice of meat.
The porcini one ROCKED. Best amongst the hot ones, and also the best crostini of the night. The scallop and parma ham wasn’t too bad either. The pork belly paled in comparison because it was tomato based and just tasted like a bolognaise/ragu.
The menu proper is a tad confusing, so bear with us. There are 4 sections – Antipasti (A), Primi (P), Secondi (S) and Dolci (D). Each section has 3 choices, and you can mix and match depending on how hungry you are. The full A, P, S & D costs $58. My A, P & D was $38 and A’s A & S was $37. You can order each item as a la carte as well, in case for some reason the combi that you want isn’t available (e.g. 2 A & 1 S).
My A was a pumpkin soup with crab meat, and A’s was the Insalata Caprese – tomato and mozzarella salad. After the pretty decent crostinis, these were both somewhat of a letdown. The soup was a bit too sweet, without very much depth of flavour, and A’s Caprese was a very ordinary version of the dish.
My choice for the P was home-made tagliatelle with prawns and cherry tomatoes, forgetting that I also had the tagliatelle when we were here for lunch, albeit as a bolognaise. Again, the pasta wasn’t too bad, it just wasn’t outstanding. It tasted faintly of local fried prawn noodles, probably because of the prawn stock and cut chillis. A didn't really like it cos he said it tasted “too Asian”.
A chose the osso bucco with mashed potatoes as his S, forgetting that he generally doesn’t like the taste or texture of osso bucco… Still, the meat was nice and tender, and I like that they gave a section of the bone with some bone marrow for you to dig out and indulge.
I’m not a huge dessert fan, but dessert actually turned out to be the best part of the meal. We shared the ricotta cheese and white chocolate cake. It sounds a bit dubious but turned out much better than expected. The cake was light, and not overpoweringly cheesey or too sweet. I’m glad we ended the meal on a high note.
The ambience is really casual, and I guess I wouldn’t mind coming back every so often to try a new menu, but a repeat visit certainly isn’t at the top of my list. Note to self (and all other lizard-phobes out there): Make sure you go #1, #2 etc before coming here. The restaurant doesn't have an on-site restroom. You have to use the Botanic Gardens one, which is partially open-air, and at night there are fat lizards in practically every single toilet stall. Needless to say I held it till we got home…
It’s okay but nothing fantastic. I don’t think it’s really worth it though. I’ll wait till I try the pizza made by the Italian chef before I make my final call.
1 Cluny Road
Singapore Botanic Gardens Visitor Centre