Prego – 80 Bras Basah Road, Level 1 Fairmont Singapore
The buffet is a boon for the indecisive individual and it is not unusual for me to find myself unable to whittle my cravings down to the single thing I desire the most. That said, dime-a-dozen, garden-variety buffets don't cut it with their spreads of average fare.
Now, Prego is anything but average with its Olympic-length dessert table and ever-changing yet consistently impressive Occidental offerings. Sure, it's a little pricey at about $70++ a head for Sunday Brunch ($90++ for the Champagne Brunch option) but it more than deserves its status as top choice when I can't make up my mind; I know I'll always leave happily fed.
The only constant is the amuse bouche of crusty, soft and wonderfully chewy Foccacia with a lovely herby, sweet-sour tomato dip reminiscent of gazpacho. Resist the significant urge to fill up on it and save that space to do the mains justice.
I always make a beeline for Oysters whenever I see them. The truth is in the sniffing and these creamy, medium-sized specimens are invariably fresh, smelling cleanly of saltwater and nothing else. Other cold starters include Poached Veal Carpaccio with a delicate bite, milky richness and excellent creamy aioli as well as an Octopus Confit that balanced the meaty orange octopus chunks with sharp fennel on a potato salad base. More conventional was the moist, firm, no-nonsense Frittata and lovely Beef Carpaccio with Rocket. I rounded off my appetizers with Duck and Lentil Salad in which mealy green lentils soaked up gamey duck flavour beautifully.
Now on to the hot stuff. The Gorgonzola Polenta blew my mind with its perfect robustness that stopped just short of being overpowering, exactly like the cheese used in it. Rich and creamy, it was flavour-packed, complete with nutty sweetness and that signature Gorgonzola pungency. The Roasted Vegetables were more interesting than most with lovingly blistered peppers, crunchy celery and tender zucchini.
The Lamb T-Bone in Marsala Pepper was done to a tender medium and napped in a mild, smoky-sweet pepper sauce. Both the Turkey Piccata in Porcini Cream and Beef Rolls Braised with Bacon and Spinach in Port were a tad overcooked and had subtly-flavoured sauces. In contrast, the potent seafood stock of the Seafood Soup set an excellent stage for buttery cod and crunchy shrimp while the Malloreddus Pasta with Pork Sausage, Cherry Tomatoes and Pecorino had a lovely ragù brimming with meaty weight albeit lacking Pecorino richness.
Seconds called for a visit to the carving station and its gorgeous Leg of Lamb, all soft and fragrant with rosemary. The Roast Ribeye had its touch of dryness more than remedied by a gloriously beefy and subtly sweetish gravy. A selection of oven-fresh Thin-Crust Pizzas also beckoned with the richly Umami mushroom and bell pepper partly outshone by a bewilderingly herby onion, bacon and garlic.
Now on to the mind boggling array of desserts! The Pistachio Opera dazzled with a robust pistachio flavour and a lingering note of apricot topped off with rich coffee cream. The shotglass of tart Mango Mousse was superb when counter-balanced by a creamy custard layer.
Crisp and light, the Deep Fried Cannoli was dusted with powdered sugar and laced with a lip-smackingly tart berry coulis. However, the Profiteroles were what stole the show with soft, chewy choux and rich custard filling all encased in a thin, crunchy-sticky caramel shell.
A close second was an unlabelled chocolate confection which I suspect was Panforte. A lovechild of chewy nougat and rich cookie, it was resplendent with pistachios, almonds and macadamias.
Wait, there's more! The Financiers were dangerously sweet with syrup-moistened dense semolina cake crowned with sugary meringue. The Cheese Cake was also quite sweet though redeemably rich if reserved in terms of flavour.
I adored the buttery, dense pastry of the raisin-studded Pear Tart as well as the sweet, thick berry paste of the Rote Grute.
A delicious spiced bread and gorgeous custard with visible vanilla beans warranted a second serving of the Bee Sting while the Bread and Butter Pudding proved a true classic. I finished off with a Peach Strudel that had uncharacteristically un-flaky pastry.
Would you believe me if I said I didn't get round to trying a host of other desserts like Chocolate Creme Brulee, Tiramisu and Raspberry Chocolate Cake? Maybe I'll start with dessert next time...