[email protected]

September 23, 2010

Once upon a time, [email protected] was one of my favorite restaurants. But the place has faded with age; despite its refurbishment, it no longer looks as gorgeous as before, and its menu seems littered with letdowns.

Italian cooking is the current name of the game here, narrowing the focus from the restaurant's previous premise of Mediterranean with a twist.

The Pizza Genovese was a rare treat _ a crisp, cheeseless concoction with caramelized onions, anchovies, rosemary & olives. Seemed relatively healthy, without the usual mozzarella and tomato base. Plus, the mix of sweet and savory toppings turned out to be really tasty.

Duck prosciutto with toasted almonds & honey. Suitably gamy and chewy, with a rich, earthy flavor that was well complemented by the nutty and sweet accompaniments.

Alas, things went sharply downhill from there. The pan-fried King George whiting was dry and overdone to the point that even the saffron zabaglione couldn't rescue it. Ditto for the quail egg, which would have been preferable with a runny yolk instead.

The seafood linguine sounded interesting, since it came with cockles (!) alongside soft-shell crab, prawns, sugarsnap peas, verjuice & minted mascarpone. But the cockles were puny beyond reckoning, while everything else was basically bland.

Gnocchi with ragu of beef shin, broad beans, oven-dried tomatoes & gremolata. Plenty of tender beef, though blindfolded customers who chew on this might think it was simply a steak with mashed potatoes. The meat tasted one-dimensionally salty.

Seafood risotto, with yabbies, scallops, cuttlefish, lemon sole & black lip mussels. The rice was mushy and unpleasantly sourish, while the yabbies had nearly no flesh in them.

One saving grace is that there's a reasonable selection of wines by the glass that run the gamut from Australian to Chilean.

The cheapest of them cost RM30, but they definitely taste decent. Forgot to note which wines had been ordered here though.

An alfresco terrace is available for anyone who wants to puff some shisha.

Renaissance Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.