Known for its hearty American-style brunches and quaint dining experience, Spruce at Phoenix Park has recently undergone a transformation under the purview of Italian Chef Maura Sotto, who has previously earned a Michelin Star for his Restaurant ‘Rocca Bruna’ in Italy, to create an Authentic Italian menu, stripping down the food into Italian classics and comfort food.
The reason behind the new menu? Founder of Spruce, Danny Pang remarks “Being in the middle of a heritage enclave like Phoenix Park has undoubtedly influenced the direction of our kitchen; as we developed the nuances of the Spruce restaurants, we also wanted the food at Spruce at Phoenix Park to reflect the grace and elegance of our surroundings.” The concept of the Italian dishes are to create unfussy dishes to allow the quality of the fresh ingredients to take centre-stage.
Onto the starters, I was first given the Calamari to taste. Being a fan of calamari, I had high expectations for the dish. However, I was slightly disappointed as the calamari wasn’t very crispy, in addition to being quite chewy. Had the dish been more tender and had a crispier batter, the dish would have been good.
Another Italian classic, Beef Carpaccio is another Italian favourite of mine. The beef was tender and worked well with the asparagus. However, when the beef was accompanied by the sauce, the flavours of the dish were slightly overbearing and put me off the dish.
Polpette al Pomodoro ($14), or meatballs, which are not pictured above, proved to be my favourite starter. The meat was tender and melted in my mouth when I took my first bite, begging me to take more bites. In addition, the tomato sauce worked well with the meatballs as it wasn’t too heavy or light, just right in the middle.
Everything about this dish reminded me of the fresh colours of Italy, and it was my favourite pasta. The sauce was light and it had the perfect combination of crisp flavours, set off against the creamy burrata. I’d definitely recommend trying this dish.
The mains were the highlight of all the dishes, my favourite being the Brasato di Manzo, an ultra tender showstopper of 48-hour slow-cooked beef short ribs served with polenta, sauteed spinach and mushroom, a port wine reduction, and topped with a poached quail egg. The meat was succulent and had very good flavouring, and the sauce accompanied with it worked well without overpowering the flavours of the meat.
The other main was Tonno alle Erbe ($28), a pan-seared yellowfin tuna served with broccoli flan and red onion. Yet again another winner dish, the tuna was seasoned extremely well and the sweetness of the flan helped cleanse my taste buds, creating a very fresh taste once again.
Out of all the dishes, I was most excited for the pistachio sponge cake, which was very similair to tiramisu. Having a massive sweet tooth, tiramisu is my all-time favourite dessert and it was exciting to see a similar dish as an addition to the new menu. It was disappointing when the cake was dry, as the rich flavours couldn’t be absorbed. However, this dilemma was quickly solved by pouring coffee into the cake, which I suggest doing before eating the dish to soak up the flavours. With the coffee, the sponge cake tasted a lot better.
Initially, the presentation of the panna cotta was visually appealing and looked delicious. When the panna cotta was cut open, a sweet raspberry coolis was discovered at the center – similar to a lava cake – which I thought was a nice touch. Although others suggested that the dessert was a bit too dense, I enjoyed the dense texture and this was my favourite dessert.
Overall, Spruce has done a good job transitioning their usual American food into classic, fresh Italian dishes. The concept is well done and I’ll definitely go back for some of the dishes.
This was an invited media tasting.
Spruce at Phoenix Park
320 Tanglin Road
Tel: +65 6836 5528