Gaia, located where Thumper used to be at Goodwood Park Hotel, completely wasn't on our radar and we definitely wouldn't have come if not for Restaurant Week. The menu, 5 courses for $55, looked pretty interesting, so I decided what the heck, and booked it for Tuesday night.
First course was deep fried sardines with caramelised onions. This was good until both of us got a mouthful of bones, probably from the tail of the fish.
Next course was a bit of a letdown - a pan fried ham and ricotta cheese timbale. It tasted a bit like christmas stuffing, and basically disintegrated when we tried to eat it.
The pasta course fared better, a home made tagliatelle with soft shell crab in a light tomato bisque sauce. I found it interesting that on its own, the pasta was just a tad underseasoned, but once you had it with the crab, the brininess of the crab added just the right amount of saltiness.
This time we both ordered the same main, cos the other option was a boring-sounding braised chicken leg. We had the oven-baked cod cooked in milk with grilled polenta, and this was the highlight of the meal, particularly for A. I had one slightly dry, overcooked piece of fish but the piece was excellent - really moist and flaky. The polenta had a very subtle flavour, but paired well with the fish.
Dessert was a traditional tiramisu, with half the plate covered in cocoa powder. Brought out the whimsical artist in me. Heh.
Gaia apparently serves fine dining Italian, though when we checked out the a la carte menu, the mains just consisted of various proteins, all served grilled with the same selection of sides. The pasta selection is fairly standard, but the appetisers look interesting and they have an entire page of buffalo mozzarella dishes.
Service was very good; polite and sincere even though we were one of the el cheapos there for Restaurant Week. When we asked to see the a la carte menu at the end of the evening, the waiter brought us one each, and even proceeded to take us through the menu to highlight the restaurant’s specialties.
Where was the door bitch? We waited like fools at the main door before realizing the greeting desk was in the 2nd room, beyond the bar. Hmpf.
After that first misstep however, service was excellent. The food was good too with the cod being the highlight. Although the restaurant week menu seemed very different from their regular menu. And aside from the page of mozzarella dishes, there was nothing on the regular menu that really called out to me.
We’ll probably be back to try the cheese, and because the service is good. But it’s not exactly top of my list.
Gaia Ristorante & Bar
22 Scotts Road
Goodwood Park Hotel
Lunch: Mon to Fri & Sun, noon to 2.30 pm
Dinner: Daily, 6.30 pm to 11 pm