Tablescape at Grand Park City Hall recently welcomed a new chef, Armando Aristarco, who counts several years of experience working for fine hotels. I previously encountered him a couple of times while dining in LaBrezza. As I took to my seat in Tablescape, Chef Armando himself came out to say hi to diners. After I told him I tasted his cooking previously in LaBrezza, he was quick to point out that upon taking helm of the Grand Park City Hall restaurant, he has expanded his culinary offerings to continental fare. Indeed, Tablescape mixes both an old world charm with contemporary European cuisine. It is old-world because of the classical look of the place – think black and white and accented by a bit of beige in terms of the furnishings. Even the way certain dishes are presented reminds me of restaurants of yore. Tablescape has a bread cart filled with various selections of freshly baked buns and even has a dessert trolley topped with various sweet endings. Inded, this venue doesn’t delve too far from the grand proposition that the hotel housing it professes to deliver.
One thing that I remember about Chef Armando from my past encounters with his cuisine is that he likes to bring fresh takes to seemingly ordinary dishes. Take the Egg (S$28) for instance. This staple is given a new facet with Parmesan fondue, two textures of asparagus and a topping of summer truffles. The result is an added complexity to the dish. You have the smooth finish of an egg with the creaminess of the fondue plus the unmistakable truffle fragrance.
Another highlight among the starters was the multi-layered Beef (S$20). Here, you have thinly sliced Black Angus striploin seasoned with salt and pepper and seared in tataki style. While I would have been perfectly happy if it ended there, the beef is also dressed in classic Pommery mustard and raspberry vinaigrette which gives it a sweet and savory note.
Each dish is named with just one word and a quick read at the menu shows you exactly what the dish is about. But for me, one exception was the Chicken (S$28) where I would have to say it was the crunchy baby romaine that stole the scene with its cardini dressing, Parmigiano Reggiano shaving and bacon bits rather than the generous serving of poultry that serves as the basis for this main.
Another favorite is the Iberico Pork Chop (S$42) which may at first intimidate due to the humongous piece of bone jutting out from the plate. Interestingly, the marinating process for the pork involved stuffing the meat in a vacuum sealed bag before it is opened and grilled for 6 minutes. That particular duration must have been the result of several tests because the pork turned out to be impressively tender.
Owing to the origins of the head chef, you can’t go wrong with ordering pasta here. Even the house pasta, the Fettucine (S$38) which Chef Armando modestly dismisses as something one can do simply, is addicting. Everyone in the table agreed despite having had their fill of several mains and starters before that.
With a dessert trolley greeting you the moment you enter the restaurant, it is probably hard to pass up some sweets in Tablescape. At the time of my visit, they were offering the Champagne Jelly and Coconut Raspberry Mousse. The selection changes on a daily basis. I would imagine the desserts here would go well with coffee. Tablescape sources its coffee from Tiong Hoe.
Besides what’s available in the dessert trolley, there are also some which are made-to-order. The Souffle (S$16) mesmerizes as the rich chocolate makes its way to melt the fluffy, bouncy egg-based dish.
All in all, Tablescape serves as a great venue for intimate dates or gatherings with friends. Given the cuisine and setting, the food is priced slightly lower than other venues of similar class, especially if you decide to go for one of the set meals. I would come back when the next craving for European cuisine strikes.
Grand Park City Hall
10 Coleman Street
+65 6432 5618
Open daily for lunch (12PM to 2:30PM), for dinner (6PM to 10:30PM)