One Rochester Group has refurnished and transformed “Roast Restaurant” to Una. There are two concepts housed in this beautiful colonial building. The first floor, UNA dining (pictured above), is an elegant space with a lush garden, suitable for families, weddings, and dates. For large groups and friends, the second floor, UNA Tapas Bar (below), has a separate tapas menu, and an air-conditioned balcony that can be booked for events of about 25 people.
Helming the kitchen is Chef Jean-Philippe Patruno whose experience includes a 12-year stint at 3 Michelin-starred Chez Nico; head chef at Quo Vadis, which Gordon Ramsey named the best restaurant in London; and Singapore’s Bomba. To celebrate his mixed heritage–he was brought up in Marseille by his Spanish mother and Italian father–he presents Spanish, French and Italian cuisine under una roof. “Una,” of course, means “one.” Get it? Una Rochester Group?
Although UNA Dining has a classic 3-course menu–starters, mains, and desserts–you can upsize the starters to mains, or downsize the mains to starters. For starters, the scallops a la Plancha, veal cheeks, Iberico ham crisp ($28/$38) was fantastic: the veal soft as a dream; and the Scottish scallops, to be eaten with the ham, was bouncy to the ham’s crunch, sweet to the ham’s saltiness.
Not everyone can appreciate slow-cooked octopus ($21/$31) because octopus by itself is mild and bland. But as we chewed, we acquired an appreciation for its intense smokiness.
For the mains, my friend’s favorite was monkfish ($33/$43) because, he said, “the texture was amazing, chewy and pillowy.” It came in lobster jus, a milder form of lobster bisque, and crispy Courgette flower. I had never eaten Courgette flower before. It tasted like okra without the sliminess. It was deep-fried in a tempura batter, and the bud had delicious stuffing. This flower alone could be the highlight of the restaurant. I want to return and eat 10 stalks.
My favorite was 24-hour slow-cooked Iberico pork belly ($32/$42) with chorizo oil. This was not for everyone, ie, not for what my mom calls the bo-gay (teethless). It was crispy, but not extremely crispy; it was soft and hard at parts but I relished its bite. And the subtly sweet sauce was umami I could drink it as a soup. The smoked chorizo mash was amazing. The milk was first smoked before making into a cream to mix with the silky mash.
Since we had small portions of the mains, we had stomach enough for a third main, ox cheeks, smoked mash, snails persillade ($33/$43), which was comparable to Bistro Du Vin‘s version, the best in Singapore. However, as we had tasted something similar for starters (the scallops & veal cheeks), we thought the starter’s veal cheeks were softer and tastier, and there was variety in the starter. If you want beef cheeks, it makes more sense to upsize the starter to a main, and skip this main.
Between the bitter chocolate ($16/$20) and Pedro Ximenez panna cotta ($14/$18, shown above), go for the latter. The bitter chocolate came across as monotonous. Although plain looking, the panna cotta had different layers of taste and textures: the smoothness of sherry-flavored dessert with a layer of apricot compote was topped with crunchy, slightly salty popcorn bits.
Admittedly the price is on the high side, but the ambience and the quality of food may justify for it.
1 Rochester Park, Singapore 139212
T: 6773 0070
UNA Dining: 6-11pm
UNA Tapas: 6pm-1am
Rating: 3.156/5 stars
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.