Davide Olandi, chef-owner of Michelin-starred D’O Restaurant in Milan, Italy, has opened Foo’d by Davide Oldani at Victoria Concert Hall. Ambitiously, Oldani opens Foo’d in Singapore and in Manila at the same time. A 3-course lunch menu starts at S$45++, 4 courses at $52++. Dinner goes for $138++ for 5 courses, and $168++ for 7. No a la carte.
Oldani coined up the “cucina pop” philosophy, which states that his cooking aims to combine tradition with innovation, making the food accessible to people. There are 10 rules to the philosophy, including balance of contrasts; design; fair prices; understanding guests’ needs, etc. (Actually, isn’t ‘cucina pop’ just ethical business sensibility?)
I highlighted the word “design” in the previous paragraph because the design at Foo’d isn’t great. The 3-in-1 utensil (knife, fork, spoon) Foo’d gave us did not work at all; it is a great design flaw. We had to use it for appetizers but we couldn’t scoop up anything; we requested for an extra fork each. The soup kept dripping from the utensil, and we requested for a proper spoon.
The unwieldy couch I sat on was very comfortable, but it required two servers to pull it out for me every time I wanted to enter or leave the couch. What design?
Ok, to be fair, the macro-design is very grand. High ceiling, Corinthian colonnade, wide space between tables, clothed tables. It’s great for dates. But most of the restaurant’s grandeur is borrowed from the ornate Victoria Concert Hall. And it is cheesy that they are playing a male Italian operatic singer, singing in Italian, popular divas’ pop songs like Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You” and Mariah Carey’s “Hero.”
We had the 4-course set lunch. There weren’t many options but I liked it that they have vegetarian option for each course. For the appetizers, the baccala mantecato is shredded cod, a staple for Venetian cicheto. It is overly salty for me but the salt doesn’t cover the fishiness.
I prefer the iced lardo on polenta, which is sweet and salty, soft and crispy, each flavor and texture offsetting the other, creating a balance.
Australian Lobster Soup
Mushroom Soup With Truffle
For the mains, I am sure the risotto could be “designed” or plated better. Now it looks like a Chinese ingot that you burn to the dead. The risotto has a nicely sour milk bun flavor, and it is topped with black-and-white sesame seeds–how inauspicious is this dish??!–coffee powder, blueberries, bottarga.
I do like its sour acrid taste, broken by the tanginess of blueberries and saltiness of the bottarga. But as Asian, I’d like to see chunks of meat in a carb. It feels impoverished to eat rice alone. Ah, lost in translation.
The 72-degrees French roast chicken comes with carrot sauce and sourdough. Strange that they don’t serve complimentary bread—all fine-dining restaurants should. The chicken is ok.
Couldn’t appreciate the zuccotto, a vegetarian dessert, which has a fustiness that I didn’t like.
The other dessert, lemoncurd spiked with meringue and lettuce ice cream, may be the most exciting dish in this otherwise dull meal. Of course, it is the lettuce ice cream that is exciting. After the sweetness and creaminess subside, there is a lingering taste of lettuce on the tongue. But I wonder if this would work better as a lettuce granita.
The best things about the meal are the ambience and the service. For a new restaurant, the servers are quite well trained. The food is pleasantly average; no highs, no lows, nothing exciting, nothing disappointing, nothing ventured and nothing. I won’t blame you if you fall asleep, facedown in your soup. But hey, the last time I reviewed a restaurant, saying it was a delicious snoozefest, it received a Michelin star. So what do I know?
We paid about $122 for 2 persons. Affordable, they say.
FOO’D by Davide Oldani
11 Empress Place, #01-01 Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall Singapore 179558
T: +65 6385 5588
M-Sat 12-3pm, 6pm-12am, Closed Sun
Overall rating: 3.625/5
Written by A. Nathanael Ho.