Iron Fist recently went to Il Verde for a birthday celebration and since going he hasn't been able to stop talking to me about their food, especially the cheese wheel, which they serve every Tuesday and Thursday. With that in mind, I went with two girlfriends last Thursday to celebrate the imminent arrival of Friday. Given the popularity of the cheese wheel, we made a point to book in advance, which turned out to be a good choice, as the place was completely booked out and turned down several walk in groups that evening.
Seating was split between indoors an covered but outdoors. Unfortunately we were allocated outdoors seating, but thankfully it wasn't too hot. I liked the menu which consisted of quite a few traditional Italian options with a modern twist. Two of us opted for the set menu that night, whilst our other companion ordered a la carte. The popularity of the restaurant that evening also made it very difficult to get the attention of staff. At times like these, I really miss the efficiency of buzzers at each table in Korean restaurants.
The set came with two drinks each, a refreshing apple-y welcome drink, and then a standard red or white after. We both really enjoyed the cool crisp welcome drink that was quite sweet to the taste. I also opted for white rather than Iron Fist's standard red, and found it to also be quite sweet and cool, but went down nicely.
Our companion's entree was the fried calamari. Whilst it came with the batter starting to fall off the calamari, it was in substance quite tender and flavoursome. The added salad and garnish gave it some balance, and the aioli kept it reasonably moist.
Our entrees consisted of flat garlic bread and polenta chips. These paled considerably compared to the calamari. Both the polenta and bread were extremely dry hard, with each bite the hard crustiness cut into my mouth. Whilst the shaved Parmesan gave it quite a bit of taste and bite, I do think that the dish could have improved greatly with some dipping sauces or even some melted cheese (to go with the cheese theme of the set).
As for mains, my companion who didn't order the set went for a serve of Insalata di Bresaola, consisting of air dried beef slices with zucchini, rocket, Parmesan and tomatoes. As expected, it was indeed very fresh and tasty. I had some of the beef and salad, and found it struck a good balance between the crisp rocket and salty beef slices. Definitely a lighter option than what we had.
Before long, the chefs came to our table with their little trolley to make our mains before our eyes.
During the whole cooking process, the chefs explained to us that they sourced their cheese wheel from Italy, and the dish was actually made with four cheeses. I loved watching the whole process.
The final product came topped with bacon as well as truffle oil. Having previously experienced the cheese wheel pasta at eat street, we were a little concerned that it would have been too heavy and overwhelming to eat alone, it proved to be light enough for us. The pasta was a little bit softer than the standard al dente, which I appreciated, and the cheese sauce was really rich and creamy. I loved the crunchy bacon and wish that there was more, and the truffle oil really added a fragrant scent to it. I found it to be a very rich and creamy comfort food type of dish, which could have been improved with a bit more stronger tasting cheese.
To round off our set meal, dessert came quite soon after our mains.
This was the panna cotta, served with chocolate syrup. I expected it to be a little overwhelming considering we had such a cheese heavy pasta, but it proved to be relatively refreshing, chilled with a smoothness to it that was almost like pudding. The chocolate wasn't too sweet, and had a rather strong cocoa fragrance to it.
My other companion had the Tiramisu, a classic Italian dessert, but with an added twist of orange zest. This added some unusual citrus tones to the otherwise creamy and nutty dessert. I tried some and found the mascapone concoction to be quite delicious but the dessert was need of a stronger coffee element.