The wine world in Singapore might be a niche community with most varied choices being left to wine specialists shops and fine dining restaurants.  But The Tastings Room at Marina Square is set to make things a little different by offering an excellent variety of wines with over 50 types also available by the glass, and pairing that with a spread of French/Italian cuisine crafted by Executive Chef Elvin Chew, with many at reasonable prices.

Wine pairing choices on the menu are finely printed out, and be it a Sparkling, Red or White to go along with that Confit of French Duck Leg, there is a recommended choice to choose from. And if the inner sommelier lives within you, there are no rules over what accompaniment must go with which dish. In all its independence, this is The Tastings Room, where the wine polishes the cuisine with a glistening shine.

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As a starter for the day, the table was first served the Heirloom Tomato Salad ($12.90). Heirloom tomatoes make centre stage presence with chunks of buffalo cheese, herb infused croutons, shallot and chopped basil dressed with a white balsamic dressing. Its fine presentation sets the level and the dressing brings out the sweetness of the tomatoes by contrasting it strongly with the tart acidic flavours of the balsamic. Refreshing, though a little wet, its a quaint start especially under the hot weather.

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Then there was the Roasted Pumpkin Soup ($6.90) topped with grilled prawn, cheese toast and rosemary espuma foam. Flavours were sweet and scented fragrantly with the light touch of rosemary. But a stronger savoury flavour would be in order for me, and the cheese toast just didn’t go well.

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For a better choice, I would give the Puree of Mushroom Soup ($6.90) the thumbs up. Shitake and Button mushrooms are blended to fine gritty pieces and topped with sauteed mushrooms, a touch of truffle oil and garlic foam. Deep meaty flavours make up each sip, and there is a nice bite to go along as well. The truffle oil scent couldn’t be noticed, but I reckoned the mushroom flavours overpowered the delicate earthy scent itself. Still, when taken hot, its a very smooth and comforting way to dig into the meal.

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Then its time for the Confit of French Duck Leg ($22.90) paired with a small glass of Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir 2009/93 pts ($7.60). The duck leg itself was a tad dry and crispy, but with its flavours intense and a little salty. The serving of mash potato and grilled pear lightens the flavours and the tangy orange sauce sweetens the deep lasting taste with citrus and sweetness. Further pairing the dish with the serving of Ata Rangi Crimson Pinot Noir, the intensity of the dish is removed. I found the Pinot Noir to be smooth and slightly buttery in texture with a calming intensity that describes elegance in a cup. Slightly sweet with a floral charm that is easy on the back of the palate, this was one red wine that is very different from the more common red, robust and slightly strong bitter sweet variant.

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Personally, I would still choose the Saffron Seafood Risotto ($18.90) and to pair that with a serving of Palliser Estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc 2010 ($6.90). A mixture of fresh prawns and clams make up the seafood base that seeps in as flavours for the rissoto. Chunks of fresh tomato lighten the heaviness with a slight sweetness and thirst quenching bite. Cheese further bind the rice together and the flakes make a fanciful topping. Still, I felt the flavours a little light and a stronger nutty savoury taste would hit the spot for me. The base was a little oily though. The choice of Palliser Estate Martinborough Sauvignon Blanc is meant to lighten the overall flavours, such that after the first few spoons of the rissoto, a new experience can begin again after a sip of the wine. Crisp and clear, with a more apparent sweetness that rests nicely on the tongue, the wine is unmistakably light, and is one that can be easily appreciated by many.

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The hand held device that seals in the freshness of the wine after a bottle is opened. Ah so that’s how its done.

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Desserts were started off with a serving of Warm Banana Cake ($8.50) which also comes along with a New Zealand Kapiti ice cream flavour of choice. This time round, the portion of ice cream was of Lemongrass and Ginger. The banana cake was spongy, with a mild fragrance of banana. Served warm, the comforting flavours are memorable for the first few moments. To further impress, there is a side of caramelized banana which is decadent with the Lemongrass and Ginger ice cream whose flavours itself was a mix of fresh grass and tender spice.

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If to choose, I loved the Strawberry Trifle ($7.90) which had layers of marinated strawberry within layers of fresh mascarpone cheese and almond cookies. It reminded me of the deconstructed strawberry shortcake from 1-Rochester, but this creation is a little heavier and bulky with focus being drawn towards the mascarpone cheese and then cut back with the tartness from the strawberry. Bits of cookie remind of a layered cake, though if one were to have the entire serving, its easy to get full, and a little tired from it because of its heaviness.

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The Chocolate D24 Durian Cake ($8.90) is just as the name suggests, layered D24 Cake with Chocolate sauce glazing the top. Sweet flavours, not too strong in its durian scent yet with the chocolate a delicious sticky. Otherwise, its a mild introduction into the world of durians.

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The sampling of De Bortoli Vat 5 Botrytis Semillon 2007 ($10.60) was a nice way to end the entire dining experience. Honey like sweetness in a clear chilling manner, the flavours were not too strong but just a delicate experience. I’ve heard that this is the little brother to the Noble One variant. If I were only living in Australia, this wine is very affordable there. I just love its sweetness.

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Chilled Lemon Ginger Tea which reminds me of the Thai Lemongrass drink just that now its spiced up with ginger.

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Tim (Director, The Tastings Room), Kenny, and Me

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Executive Chef Elvin Chew with Me

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The ballfull ambience

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The Tastings Room is more than just a place to enjoy excellent wine and good food and reasonable prices, it is also a place where an enjoyable brunch affair can be held. And for now there is a semi-buffet of three wine with a serving of pizza/pasta/sandwich at $49 for brunch. Still be it for lunch or dinner, the dishes are good with some hits and misses, and for those with the appropriate pairing, the shine on it can be seen. Even if the idea of wine pairing might be a little new, one can simply take this visit as an educational experience into the forays of the alcoholic grape world.

Many thanks to Tim, The Tastings Room, for the invitation.

Please note that wine prices listed above are for small servings in a glass.

The Tastings Room
6 Raffles Boulevard
Marina Square
#01-08
Singapore 039594
Website : www.tastings.sg
Facebook : http://www.facebook.com/TheTastingsRoom

Reservations : 6338 1829