I was ending my meal with a shot of icy cold lemoncello. I like it when my drink matches my outfit. Yellow, mellow, cold and slightly wet (it was raining afterall). Yes, it was a review on a stormy Friday night in Bukit Bintang. If there’s any restaurant worth braving the insane KL traffic for, it’s Chiaroscuro. And let me tell you why.
It’s the sheep’s cheese ravioli. I’m going to dispense all ceremony and start with the dishes I love first. The ravioli my friends, the ravioli. This one is made fresh and stuffed delicately with pecorino (the hard cheese of champions in my humble opinion). Then as to not distract you, it’s then drizzled with truffle honey and crushed pepper. That’s all and it’s divine. The saltiness and slight tartness of the cheese pockets with that sweetness of honey and peppery afterbite. Mmm… I could eat this all night.
That’s what I like about Chiaroscuro. It’s simple food made delicious. It doesn’t complicate your tastebuds, it doesn’t confuse your sensibilities with something unfamiliar. It just gives you what you want in an Italian meal and then some. But wait, try the pannacotta. Now I was never a fan of pannacotta but here they make it so creamy, I wondered why I never ordered the darn thing in the first place. Again clean flavours, good ingredients- it comes soft and wobbly on the plate ringed by a sunburst of berry coulis and runny jams. It’s the tartness of the fruit sauce that elevates this dessert into a tasty revelation.
Now that we’ve dispensed with my favourites of the evening, let's get back to the very beginning. Starters here are good classics like the buffalo mozzarella stacked with eggplant parmagiana and tomatoes. It’s fresh and earthy and if you must order another starter have the beef bresaola. This is air-dried salted beef aged until it becomes the dark red of old blood. It’s even earthier and slightly musty. Makes me think of deep cool cellars of Chianti, swilling and tasting while eating hard cheese and cured meats to enhance the taste of aged grape. I decided I preferred bresaola to carpaccio as it has more body to it and is saltier with a pronounced cured taste. This comes with a light mushroom salad and lemon dressing.
Now if you are lucky, on their special menu you might come across the homemade duck foie gras and pork terrine which according to my friend is so delicious, non-pork eaters might want to consider defecting for an evening. This is a soft and tender foie gras that simply melts on your tongue leaving a rich, indulgent aftertaste. Forget the bread, you can just cut this with a fork and eat it like a pudding.
The other pasta dish we had was squid ink. This comes heaped on a plate, the darkest of grays and has a bit of a Malaysian soul. It is spicy with heat from the ribbons of red chillies and crunch from chopped asparagus.
Mains come in shape of a tuna steak, herb crusted with a balsamic reduction. This is meaty, yet not overly so. I find some tuna steaks too much of a chore, most of them dry and overcooked resulting in a lot of arduous chewing. Tuna steaks in my opinion should still retain redness in the middle almost a touch higher than sashimi to give you texture between the cooked crust and the juicy interior. Here, it was done right and had I not been overfed with the generous starters and pastas, I might well have gobbled up the whole dish in minutes.
Breaded pork chops completed the mains. It is crisp and succulent and smells amazing on the plate. The other dessert that graced our table was the Chiaroscuro tiramisu. This comes jauntily upright, a very unladylike finger of crisp biscuit surrounding the mascarpone and coffee treat. According to Carol, the manager- this cheeky phallic confection makes most girls giggle (I daresay it might be the over access of wine by this time or that wicked lemoncello). Nevertheless, the tiramisu is a noteworthy dusky beauty, it just pales a little beside the alabaster perfection of the pannacotta.
And thus ends our meal. There are other good things on the menu like the amazing stack of cold cuts on a plank of wood the next table was having and their very confident selection of wood-fired pizzas (probably another meal, on a another day and trust me there will be another meal here). Late in our dinner, a table of Italians came in, trilling noisy words of greeting. It was the wrong side of eleven and still they were served. This is a good thing in my book, that the kitchen is accommodating which means you don’t have to rush your meal. The rain has trickled to a stop and a gorgeous wind is slipping into the open concept restaurant. I am content, slightly overfed and heady with good food and drink.
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