Round 2: another attempt to discover a potentially great new find of 2010. We decided on Roast at One Rochester, the restaurant’s latest attempt at reinvention by introducing the concept of communal dining. The intention is to go with a group of people, and order sharing portions of their dishes so you get to bond over the food and try more dishes at the same time. M did find it a bit ironic, given that the concept of communal dining has been par for the course for Asian dining for centuries...
Anyway, how it works is – for a flat sum of $65 per person, you get a Nibbles platter to start with. Then depending on the size of your group, 2 to 3 persons can select 2 mains from a list of 6, and 4 or more can select 4 mains. Then the dessert platter is another large platter for sharing.
The evening started pretty well. The Nibbles platter is fairly decently sized (the photo is a portion for 2 persons – we had 2 of those for our party of 4). There are crudités with sour cream and olive tapenade dips, a game terrine with cornichons, foie gras parfait, prosciutto and new potato skins with sour cream and ikura. Generally, there wasn’t anything in the platter I didn’t like, but I was particularly fond of the olive tapenade and the foie gras parfait.
Our mains took a very long time to arrive, and coupled with the heat of being outdoors, our mood started to diminish. When they finally came, they were alright but weren’t particularly inspiring. The grilled cod fillet was decent, but we’ve had better fish elsewhere. I had high hopes for the seared king scallops with smoked sea urchin risotto, but while this was better than the fish, it didn’t blow me away either. There were only 3 scallops for 4 people, and the risotto was a bit too al dente and I couldn’t detect much sea urchin flavour either.
The 2 meat dishes we ordered were the baby chicken wrapped in prosciutto with a pine nut, raisin and truffle stuffing, and braised beef short rib with mashed potatoes. I normally steer clear of ordering ‘boring’ chicken when dining out, but I must say that the chicken was, in my opinion, the best main of the evening. The chicken was tender and very flavourful. The beef had some potential but while it was fork-tender, the actual flavour was quite ordinary and texture-wise it was a bit stringy too.
The Grand Assiette dessert platter had 5 items – pavlova with mango sauce, espresso crème brulee, a panna cotta scented with either longan or lychee, a chocolate and raspberry cake, and lime soufflé. I liked the crème brulee and the panna cotta; I could barely eat a few mouthfuls of the rest. The pavlova was a bit meh, the raspberry was way too tart for the chocolate cake, and the lime soufflé took tart/sour to a whole new level. It was a good palate cleanser but I could only manage a few spoonfuls.
I think the ambience also contributed (or rather didn’t) to our dining experience as a whole. We’re not used to al fresco dining so we couldn’t really enjoy our dinner since we were sweltering. Plus the lighting was very dim so we couldn’t see what we were eating at all. Not the most convenient when you’re trying to navigate pieces of roast baby chicken, bones and all.
The Nibbles platter was the best dish of the night. I wouldn’t mind coming back, but I’m definitely not in a hurry.
The good – olive tapenade dip and herb crumb stuffed olives in the nibbles platter.
The bad – They were fully booked with large tables and a wedding. So service was painfully slow.
The ugly – It’s FARKING hot. I hate outdoor dining. Just because of that, I probably won’t be back.
Roast at One Rochester
1 Rochester Park
Opening hours: 6 pm to 1 am