The Mitchell Lin Guide: Garibaldi

A re-review of that old-school fancy Italian place
by JUNK
Mitchell LinSeptember 21, 2018
Looking for a second opinion on that Michelin-starred restaurant people won’t stop talking about? Introducing the Mitchell Lin Guide, where JUNK re-reviews Singapore’s Michelin-rated dining establishments. 100% local. 100% honest.

Restaurant

Garibaldi

 Cuisine

Italian

What Mitchell Lin says...

“This is the Mona Lisa of Italian restaurants – for over a decade she’s been smiling at Singapore. Unimpressed. Unfailing. Undeterred. Maybe that’s why we keep coming back.”

Best for…

Tried and tested (and sometimes tired) Italian cuisine.

Worst for…

“Been there done that” food snobs.

The Food

Dinner started with a Carbonara Tart, which turned out to be one of those typical one-bite things that are tasty, but rather forgettable. The shell was more crispy than flaky, resulting in a mouthful that felt more like a biscuit than a tart. Were our bouches amused? Not entirely.

The bread course followed, but was overshadowed by the arrival of some mystery Cheese Sticks in the most unattractive cup. Despite the unpromising presentation, the cheese sticks were absolutely delicious – crispy, fresh, and with just the right hint of a mild savory (possibly aged) cheddar. All five sticks were promptly polished off in under 10 minutes.

Appetisers

Our primo platti was the Cold Angel Hair with Sicilian Prawn Tartare & Fresh Carnelian Caviar from the Creative Menu. Garibaldi’s proximity to the nearby Gunther’s – another G-name, high-end European restaurant that features a signature angel hair pasta on its menu – might have you gleefully anticipating another plate of chilled, delicate angel hair goodness at your table. Alas. Wrong. The pasta was clumpy and not exactly cold, only cool, at best. The prawns were sweet, but did little to pull the dish together, as did the caviar. In fairness, it’s not that bad. But it’s not great (when you compare it to Gunther’s).

Mains

For secondis, we had the Fish & Seafood Stew Tuscan Style from the Signature Menu, a rustic, tomato-based stew with large scallops, prawns and a fillet of fish sitting on a bed of olives and cherry tomatoes. For Disney fans, the entrance of this dish might remind you of that pivotal moment in Ratatouille, where an unrelenting food critic is served a deceptively simple, but transformative, country-style vegetable stew. Our first spoonful of this bowl made us sag a little in our leather-backed dining chairs, and the rainy weather outside made every subsequent slurp that much more rewarding. This dish felt surprisingly home-made, without any rush to infer “modern” or “reinvented” Italian cuisine.

We also sampled the Penne All’Arrabbiata from the a la carte menu, a dish that is about as Italian as they come – tube-shaped pasta coated with a tomato sauce, with spice and garlic added for kick. For us, this unpretentious plate summed up Garibaldi’s values loud and clear: it’s all about satisfying dishes with absolutely nothing Insta-worthy about them. The flavours are so classic that nothing in particular strikes you about the pasta whilst eating… but you would think about eating it again. As one would comfort food.

Dessert

The manager of the restaurant was quick to offer the Tiramisu as his dessert of choice. What else, right? He was even quicker to have it delivered (under two minutes), which was slightly worrying. But luckily, one bite was sufficient to ease our suspicions – the cream was fresh, the berries sweet, the Amaretto strong, with no incidents of choking on the cocoa powder.

The Extras

Ambience

The decor says “outdated European” and therefore seems quite authentically Italian. Massage-parlor sheer curtains, worn office carpets, a spattering of old wine bottles, and walls lined with many accolades hoarded over the years make for a shabby, albeit comfortable, feel. Exactly how we imagined 80% of restaurants in Milan.

Overheard

“This beef is quite tough…”
“Do you think they refill these cheese sticks?”

Service

The dining room was smartly laid out such that the service corridor is in clear view of the tables, so you would never need to try too hard to get service. Plenty of tossing going on, though – tossing of the brick-heavy menus. Tossing of the bread. Tossing of the actual dishes onto the table. Tossing of the bill folder. If not for the flash of a warm smile, it might have come across as a bit rude. With every course, there was little or no dialogue describing the meal. Just a toss of said dish on the table, and at most a murmur of “Spaghetti” or “Tiramisu” under the waiter’s heavy breath. If you’re the kind of diner who is sick of the simpering, pretentious monologues that accompany most fine dining experiences, this casual, cavalier attitude can be quite refreshing.

Price

$$$$$

There are two dinner tasting menus starting at $130++ and one lunch tasting menu at $39++. Unlike most other restaurants, you’re allowed to pick items on the tasting menus and mix them with mainstays on the a la carte menu. (The waiter might frown slightly, but it’s tolerated.) Expect to pay more if you’re a big oenophile because the wine list is more acclaimed (and Italian) than the restaurant itself, with several well-selected Coravin-ed glasses of red for your drinking pleasure. We were perfectly happy with the two Barolos we tried.

 

Despite the crushed ice, the pasta was merely cool, not cold. Unfortunate.

This tuna and burrata starter was forgettable. But the trypophobia-inducing placemat gave us nightmares after.

Not a dramatic ossobucco or veal chop, but satisfying enough, especially on a rainy day.

The ultimate comfort food – penne all'arrabbiata.

Like most Italian food, tiramisu is so common it's become underwhelming in theory. But it's really quite nice in practice.

 
 

Photos taken with the Huawei P20 Pro.


 
 

Read the rest of the Mitchell Lin Guide here.

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