Aura Restaurant

August 16, 2016 Ivan Teh - RunningMan 0 Comments

Aura Restaurant
1 Saint Andrew's Road
#05-03 & #06-02 National Gallery Singapore


Opening Hours:
Daily: 12pm - 2:30pm (Lunch), 6:30pm - 10:30pm (Dinner)



http://www.aura.sg/


Aura Restaurant Bar
Aura Restaurant Bar



Modern Italian Fine Dining, Hit-Or-Miss

(Ratings: On a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 = Worst and 10 = Best)
Overall: 7
Ambience & Setting: 9
Food & Beverage: 7
Service: 7
Value for Money: 5
Budget about SGD $70 / $110 per person.


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Opening its doors along with the rest of the National Gallery Singapore in November 2015, Aura Restaurant is a classy, elegant, Italian fine dining destination, founded by renowned restaurateur Beppe De Vito. Spread across 2 floors, with both a restaurant and sky lounge, and offering contemporary modern Italian dishes, Aura Restaurant is promising. That said, Aura Restaurant is also dogged by inconsistent standards of service, and coupled with its expensive fine dining price tag, dining here is hit-or-miss, a risky choice.

Aura Restaurant Signage
Aura Restaurant Signage


Aura Restaurant Exterior


Aura Restaurant Interior



Ambience at Aura Restaurant is the best thing about dining here. The elegant, luxurious, sophisticated feel of the restaurant was carefully designed, and feels opulent with commissioned art decor and curated plush furnishings, in shades of bronze, amber, grey, and teal. Warmly lit, thoughtful corners create intimate spaces, while ample natural lighting during the day brightens the place. The blend of old-world elegance against sleek modernity can be seen in the symmetrical layout, custom-made smoked mirrors, rustic copper lamps, solid marble panels, and unique custom chairs, including the 'Uragano' by De Padova, an artistic wicker chair by industrial designer Vico Magistretti.

In the sky lounge, a stunning panoramic view of the business district, Padang, and the Marina Bay skyline beckons. On the other side, light reflects off the pond on the rooftop garden of the National Gallery Singapore, and along with the signature architecture and ample greenery, lend a sense of calm. The only minor complaint; ambient noise tends to fill the place, and with a full crowd, makes quiet conversation near impossible.

Aura Restaurant Entrance


Seating Outdoors


Seating Indoors



Service at Aura Restaurant, during my visit, was good but not outstanding. Slight issue at the start, when staff were curt to us instead of extending proper greetings upon entry. While seated and waiting for the rest of our party, staff exercised good patience and did not disturb us. Our server demonstrated excellent menu knowledge and was able to advise on dishes, but there is a tendency for them to push the expensive items on the menu. There is a short wait for order fulfillment, and staff demonstrated impeccable presentation while serving, good style and finesse without being intrusive.

Their wine recommendations were well received, though you'll need to specify clear boundaries (varietal, region, price, etc.) because of the extensive list. Wine glasses were automatically topped up by staff throughout the meal, but not the water glass, which appears bias to me. Also, I appreciate the assistance rendered by staff to help take group photographs.

Table Setting


Decor Flowers


Lamps


Stool



Food at Aura Restaurant is contemporary, modern Italian cuisine, with their speciality being the handmade pasta. The menu is compact and limited, though they often have several off-menu "specials" available. Generally, I find dishes here to be executed to a decent standard, not the best quality Italian dishes / pasta I've had, but still tasty, with bold, complex flavours. Texture of most dishes however, is average at best, we didn't have any al-dente pasta noodles, most of which were slightly soft for my liking. Could be better. Portions are nicely sized for individuals, though communal sharing is also possible.

I like that Aura Restaurant does not create small petite plates, so meals here are very filling. In terms of pricing, most dishes on the menu are affordable, cheap even, for fine dining. The expensive items are the off-menu dishes, and the range of drinks / beverages, especially the wines, some of which are exorbitant. Be completely aware when ordering. Budget about SGD $70 per person for a meal without drinks, or about SGD $110 per person for a meal with drinks.

Aura Restaurant Menu


Aura Restaurant Menu



The Focaccia Bread (SGD $Complimentary) is so fluffy and fragrant, though not as soft as I'd like. Quite good, and the little specks of black olives it's studded with lend an earthy flavour. Dunk it into the balsamic vinegar and olive oil dipping sauce for an aromatic dressing.

Focaccia Bread (SGD $Complimentary)


Focaccia Bread



The Scallops Crudo With Truffle And Smoked Quail Eggs (SGD $28) is a fine example of how a simple dish can be so much better with premium ingredients. Semi-seared half scallops, tender and bouncy with a delicate sweetness, sit around a pretty salad of edible flowers, crunchy frisee, and creamy avocado puree. Finished with briny salmon roe which bursts with juicy flavour, while the excellent smoked quail eggs, fragrant and smoky savoury salty in taste, are good enough to eat on their own. Loved every bite of this. Highly recommended!

Scallops Crudo With Truffle And Smoked Quail Eggs (SGD $28)


Scallops Crudo With Truffle And Smoked Quail Eggs



Utterly disappointed with the Burrata Cheese With Cherry Tomatoes And Black Olives (SGD $26), which was served over a salad of fresh wild rocket leaves / argula, crunchy frisee, juicy cherry tomatoes, and earthy black olives. The burrata cheese was not creamy but stringy, semi dry, and tasted bland. Terrible, but the worst is knowing this was much better on a prior visit. I ate this and was ashamed on their behalf. Highly inconsistent quality. Skip this.

Burrata Cheese With Cherry Tomatoes And Black Olives (SGD $26)


Burrata Cheese With Cherry Tomatoes And Black Olives



The best appetizer for me was the Grilled Octopus With Crispy Egg And Corn (SGD $28). The fresh octopus was nicely tender, with a bold, smoky savoury sweet flavour. The creamy mashed potato and corn puree is rich and smooth, and the sharp, tart marinated grapefruit lends a juicy burst of flavour. Finished with crunchy frisee and fragrant grilled corn kernels, which have a delicious smoky aroma. The unique highlight; a soft-boiled egg, lightly coated in batter, and deep-fried. You get a satisfiying crunch, followed by the luscious golden flow of the yolk. Highly recommended!

Grilled Octopus With Crispy Egg And Corn (SGD $28)


Grilled Octopus With Crispy Egg And Corn



While I cannot fault the good quality ingredients in the Parma Ham With Musk Melon (SGD $26), including the thinly sliced savoury salty parma ham, fresh wild rocket leaves / arugula, thinly sliced muskmelon / melon / honeydew melon, and crunchy frisee, the balance in the ratio is totally off. The melon was like an adornment, adding little to the overall dish, while the rest of the ingredients seemed disparate and disjointed. Desperately cries for something, like a sauce, to pull everything together. I ended up eating the ham with the bread instead. Underwhelming dish, not worth ordering as is. Skip this.

Parma Ham With Musk Melon (SGD $26)


Parma Ham With Musk Melon



The only non-pasta main dish we tried was the Smoked Duck With Foie Gras And Young Spinach (SGD $38). Exactly as advertised, and as good as you'd imagine, if you like foie gras and duck. With a tender, moist texture free of any gamey taste, the duck delights with its smoky aroma and light savoury salty flavour. Crunchy frisee sit atop the thick slab of foie gras, which is rich and creamy, very clean, very decadent. So good!

Smoked Duck With Foie Gras And Young Spinach (SGD $38)


Smoked Duck With Foie Gras And Young Spinach



Tried nearly all the pastas on the menu here. The signature speciality of Aura Restaurant, and what makes them classic Italian, are these pasta dishes. Each is distinct in its own way, well thought out and executed, with flavours that differ vastly from one another. Save for 1 minor hiccup, I enjoyed their pasta dishes.

The hearty and filling Pappardelle With Oxtail And Mushrooms (SGD $26) features broad, flat pappardelle pasta noodles, in a savoury ragu of shredded braised beef oxtail. Finished with tender earthy shiitake mushroom slices, the meaty ragu is thick and rich, with the tender beef shreds coating the noodles in a slippery sheen. Well executed too, with a texture just borderline al-dente, that has a slight bite to it. Best shared, or solely for a large eater. Good!

Pappardelle With Oxtail And Mushrooms (SGD $26)


Pappardelle With Oxtail And Mushrooms



The underwhelming Burrata Cheese Ravioli With Amatriciana (SGD $26) was let down by the poorer overall quality of the burrata cheese. At least the little squares of ravioli pasta dumplings were well folded and cooked, able to hold their contents well, yet still yielding easily when cut. The amatriciana sauce is hearty and flavourful, with fresh sweet tomatoes, salty savoury guanciale / cured pork cheek, and grated pecorino romano cheese. Could be so much better if the quality was consistent.

Burrata Cheese Ravioli With Amatriciana (SGD $26)


Burrata Cheese Ravioli With Amatriciana



Visually, the Whole Wheat Tagliatelle With Duck & Foie Gras (SGD $32) looks drowned in a meat gravy, messy and unsightly. The long, flat tagliatelle pasta noodles were a little too soft for my liking, but the duck meat ragu is properly savoury salty, with a slight gamey taste, and actually delicious. Bold, strong flavours here, complemented by the rich, fatty chunks of foie gras. These bits have some which are crisp, some which are smooth. Rather enjoyed this. Good!

Whole Wheat Tagliatelle With Duck & Foie Gras (SGD $32)


Whole Wheat Tagliatelle With Duck & Foie Gras



The Spaghetti With Crab And Porcini (SGD $28) is pure, rustic comfort food. Familiar flavours feature in this classic dish, from the thin, cylindrical spaghetti pasta noodles, to the tender earthy meaty porcini mushroom slices, and the thick, rich, sweet savoury tomato sauce with chunks of fresh deshelled crab meat. Good enough on its own, though the pasta bordered on being slightly soft. The starting basis of those unique Singaporean chili crab pasta spin-offs. Worth ordering!

Spaghetti With Crab And Porcini (SGD $28)


Spaghetti With Crab And Porcini



The most unique, exotic tasting pasta dish was the Tagliolini With Scampi And Avruga Caviar (SGD $38). Loved the slightly firm without being hard texture of the medium-sized, cylindrical tagliolini pasta noodles, coated in a gorgeous, savoury sweet seafood stock sauce. The scampi / langoustine meat is fresh and sweet with a nice bouncy texture, while the caviar substitute is properly acidic and briny. What I liked though, was the slight chili heat in this pasta dish, teasing the palate without the lingering burn. Highly recommended!

Tagliolini With Scampi And Avruga Caviar (SGD $38)


Tagliolini With Scampi And Avruga Caviar


Tagliolini With Scampi And Avruga Caviar


Tagliolini With Scampi And Avruga Caviar



The Fettuccine With Razor Clams (SGD $38) is an off-menu special pasta dish. It features wide, flat fettuccine pasta noodles, slightly softer than I'd like, in a fragrant, earthy grassy herb pesto sauce. The deshelled razor clams are plump and meaty, with a nice chew to texture, and a lovely sweetness in taste. Rather unsightly in presentation though, looks messy and unfinished. But it's tasty, and rather uncommon in Singapore. Worth ordering!

Fettuccine With Razor Clams (SGD $38)


Fettuccine With Razor Clams



Touted as the star dish of Aura Restaurant, the off-menu special pasta dish of Sea Urchin Tonnarelli (SGD $50) was the sweetest dish among everything we tried. Featuring the unusual square-edged tonnarelli pasta noodles, done just under al-dente, in a rich, creamy sauce that has an intense sweetness. Wish the pasta was slightly more firm. The garnish of sea urchin has that distinctive briny salty sweet taste of the ocean, with a partly grainy, partly smooth, custard-like texture. Completely tasty and decadent. Good!

Sea Urchin Tonnarelli (SGD $50)


Sea Urchin Tonnarelli



Mildy disappointed with the Tiramisu (SGD $15), which differs somewhat from the classic Italian dessert. The texture is nice, being smooth, rich, and creamy, but lacking the mouthfeel of airy sponge fingers to complement. The taste is properly sweet with a hint of milk and cream, but lacks the bold flavour of roasted coffee beans. I like the little garnish of chocolate balls, which intensifies the chocolate flavour. Overall, it's a decent dessert, bordering on underwhelming. I would not order this again.

Tiramisu (SGD $15)


Tiramisu



The Bailey's & Hazelnut Feuillantine (SGD $15) was pretty good, with its crunchy hazelnut base, smooth creamy texture, and well-balanced sweet nutty flavours of chocolate and hazelnut. The chocolate cream garnish is nicely light and smooth, while the gold leaf wrapped hazelnuts lend a touch of glamour to the plate. I would have liked the flavour of bailey's to be more intense though, although it's decent enough as is. Worth ordering!

Bailey's & Hazelnut Feuillantine (SGD $15)


Bailey's & Hazelnut Feuillantine



The Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2014 (SGD $170 Per Bottle) is a red wine made from a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon to 40% Merlot, from the Tuscany region of Italy. Aged in oak barrels for 15 months, this elegant wine has inviting aromas of dark red cherries, oak, dried tobacco, and notes of spices. On the palate, it's medium-bodied, well balanced, supported by fine, silky tannins and fresh acidity, leading into a lingering finish. Tastes of wild blackberries, plums, and dark chocolate. Well loved by our table, especially the ladies.

Tenuta San Guido, Guidalberto, 2014 (SGD $170 Per Bottle)



The Egon Muller, Kanta, 2012 (SGD $120 Per Bottle) is a white wine made from riesling, from the Adelaide region of Australia. Named for the Sanskrit word meaning beloved and beautiful, this crisp wine has refreshing aromas of lemon, grapefruit, and notes of herbs. On the palate, it's light-bodied, tight, crisp, with a dry edge and a bright lively acidity, leading into a mineral finish. Tastes of ripe apples, lime zest, and floral fields. Not as sweet as expected, but still rather pleasing.

Egon Muller, Kanta, 2012 (SGD $120 Per Bottle)



The visit to Aura Restaurant was a celebration, to meet-up with a colleague whom we've only coordinated events with via email and messaging, and to wish her well in her new career. Finally see the real person after 3 years, not just a name on a screen. Great fun catching up with everyone, as always!

Wine


Wine


Wine


Us



Overall, I had a decent experience at Aura Restaurant. It's a place I would return again for the atmosphere and pasta, maybe the drinks and other food, if they hopefully improve upon the service. The high price tag of fine dining means Aura Restaurant is out for everyday dining, but it still remains among the more affordable options for special occasions.


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Reserve a table now @ Aura Restaurant









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