There’s a quaint Italian Bar down Shenton Way. Located at the AXA Tower on the first floor (close to Harry’s Bar), the Tavensale Italian Bar serves pasta and Italian wine, but also Japanese rice dishes, sake and its beer of choice, Sapporo. I ventured into it one evening and ordered the recommended cream croquettes ($7, above) and the cream based bacon and mushroom pasta. The croquettes were absolutely lovely – the breadcrumb skin super crispy and the insides a creamy mash of potatoes and cheese. Great starter.
The pasta was a huge portion and I kinda regret ordering it ‘cos I knew it would be extremely filling. It tasted good though, generous portion topped by crunchy button mushrooms, salty slices of bacon, and a big helping of Japanese seaweed.
Wanting to try more of the menu items, I brought 3 of my colleagues down last Friday to check out their lunch items. Oddly, for a place situated in the business district, the “Bar” didn’t opt to have fast lunch sets. But then again, they provide complimentary Japanese “Chinese” tea, a tasty vegetables-with-egg broth, and a refreshing raw cabbage salad with a nice “secret sauce” sprinkled with sesame dressing, with every main course ordered. Not exactly a bad deal as most of the pasta and rich dishes start from $11.
We ordered as starters the croquettes (still highly recommended) and fried chicken wings which were a tad saltish and not marinated. The chicken piece in the Chicken Curry Rice (above) was much better as it is nicely fried-till-golden brown and the curry is just what Japanese curry should be, thick and sweet.
We also tried a soup-based bacon and clam pasta (above) which was interesting. The noodles were thick, clams fresh, bacon tasty but what made it special was the soup which has a strong fish powder flavour and the restaurant’s “special sauce” according to the manager. We added a Pork Katsu Don for good measure – since it was so Japanese influenced – and it was decent enough though not fantastic.
To go with the lavish meal, we actually wanted to try the sake but thought the prices were a bit priced ($18 per glass, above $60 per bottle) so we settled for the white house wine at just $28 a bottle. An Italian brand – name of which of which I can’t remember – it was refreshing, a bit fruity, and well worth the money. Oh, if you “Like” Tavensale’s Facebook Page on the spot, you will get a 10% discount. Hence with 5 dishes and one bottle of wine all in, it came up to just about $82 – just $20 each. That’s so much cheaper than a lunch at Sushi Tei!
Pity Tavensale is in a CBD area which is a ghost town after work hours and even worse at weekends. But if you are looking for a place with good grub and grog and quiet enough for a meeting or discussion, check it out as it’s conveniently located just outside one of the Tanjong Pagar MRT station’s exits, opposite International Plaza.