The Waterfall Cafe is the poolside restaurant of Shangri-La Hotel. Frequently overshadowed by sister restaurant The Line, a monstrous buffet available throughout the day, the breezy little spot is fast discarding its image as an in-house-guest-only destination, and coming into its own.
The menu's been revamped, post the installation of Neapolitan chef Marco, into quintessential Southern Italian fare. So think extra virgin olive oil in preference to butter, seafood instead of meats, and tomato-based sauces in lieu of creamy ones.
I first dined complimentary of my favourite HungryGoWhere people, and as per invited tasting S.O.P., returned incognito for a revisit on my own dime. Both meals were excellent; hearty and soulful yet refined. Although the restaurant was a full-house at the revisit, service was surprisingly efficient and gracious.
The Insalata di granchio Arance e Finocchi (menu price $22), an orange-fennel accented mesclun salad with crab, black olives, cherry tomatoes, and Tropea onions, started off the tasting on a refreshing note. I'm not a huge fan of chilled seafood, so I skipped ordering this at the revisit.
At the tasting, I was surprised to find the Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Ragu di Crostacei, homemade chitarra pasta laced with shrimp and tossed with garlic, chilli, and extra virgin olive oil, and lemon, so saucy. But the sauce was delicious, notwithstanding the copious lashings of parsley, and we wiped every last remnant clean off.
At the revisit, we held the parsley off the Spaghetti alla Chitarra con Ragu di Crostacei ($29), which only served to highlight the nuanced sweetness and subtle spice of the tomato-centric sauce. Swimmingly fresh prawns, and perfectly al dente pasta.
The Spigola all'Acqua Pazza, a Neapolitan-style seabass served with cherry tomatoes, olives, and capers, in a white wine sauce, was delicate and well-balanced. My favourite dish at the tasting for its clean and clear flavours.
At the revisit, the Spigola all'Acqua Pazza ($36) was just as exquisite as I remembered. I only wished they'd drown this in more of that white wined broth, it was that outstanding.
The weak link at the tasting, the Agello Arrosto con Timo e Patate, of roasted lamb rack flavoured with thyme and served with new potatoes and sauteed vegetables, was a little too full-bodied for my liking. That said, the rest of the bloggers seemed to like it.
At the revisit, the Hubs also liked the Agello Arrosto con Timo e Patate ($36), for precisely the reason I eschewed it. He thought it was lusciously cooked, and robust in flavour. I left the lamb to him and stuck to the red wined jus and sides.
The Sharing Dessert, from left to right: Biancomangiare, Profiteroles, Ricotta cheesecake, Tiramisu, was great for the indecisive; it gives you a sampling taste of their signature sweets. I liked all, save for the profiteroles, I thought the lemon was grimacingly sour. It was still finished though; clearly the other bloggers liked sour.
At the revisit, we discovered that the Sharing Dessert ($32) was portioned just nice enough for the 2 of us to finish. Without popping out of our pants. (we still had to loosen our top buttons though...)
My favourite, the Tiramisu, layered with savoiardi ladyfinger, mascarpone, coffee, and cocoa powder, was sumptuous and heady, but managed a feather light texture.
The Ricotta cheesecake, a classic style from from Puglia, was beautifully polished.
The Lemon-cream Profiteroles, glazed with warm chocolate fudge and shimmery gold dust, was less sour than at the tasting, so it was a lot more even.
The Biancomangiare, an orange blossom water-scented almond pudding much like panna cotta, was wonderful in that wobbly custardy texture, boasted a fragrant floral accent.
The complimentary Bread at the tasting was scrumptious, especially with that piquant rich salsa.
At the revisit, we had an expanded bread basket, the cheese bread with sesame-d planks. We loved that salsa so much we got seconds of this.
Thanks to HGW for the invitation, and the Shangri-La peeps for being such welcoming hosts.
The Waterfall Cafe
22 Orange Grove Road
Shangri -La Hotel
Tel: 6213 4138 / 6213 4398
Open daily from 12noon to 3pm for lunch; 6pm to 10.30pm for dinner