Sometimes, there are certain meals that make an impression. One of them happened at L'autre Buca, where the food was solid and the prices were reasonable. However, we never got to do a return visit as it closed down shortly afterwards and was replaced by Adesso Bistro (which is also pretty good). But the original La Buca still stands on MacDonald Street, nestled in a predominantly residential area. Viv and I finally decided it was time we visited the place (after many near-attempts).
As much as we were game to try the Chef's Tasting, we decided to do a la carte instead. We started with the Fried Zucchini Flowers filled with ricotta. These were lightly crispy with a well-seasoned filling that was a bit salty. However, the tangy tomato fonduta (which was more like a stripped-down Puttanesca) helped balance it off. As much as I enjoyed this dish, I would've liked to see less batter. Next, we had the appetizer size of the Lobster, Scallop & Wild Shrimp Risotto with fresh corn and fava beans. Oh man, this was money. The arborio rice was fully cooked, yet firm while caressed by a creamy, saffron-infused concoction. Furthermore, the essence of the seafood amped the flavours up another level. And about that seafood, it was plentiful and on point. The corn added a nice sweetness and the fava beans provided an extra contrast.
For our mains, I went for the Grilled Rack of Lamb with pesto crushed fingerlings, fried olives, spicy herb and garlic vinaigrette. The plump portions of lamb were prepared a nice medium-rare being moist, tender and juicy. There was a caramelized char on the outside which helped heightened the flavours. I could really get the plethora of rosemary, mint and black pepper as well as the red wine from the vinaigrette. The pesto, in particular the basil, really came through in the potatoes. For Viv, she had the Veal Shortribs with lobster & spring onion mashed potato, spinach and heirloom carrots. Due to the lean nature of the veal, the meat was a bit stringy, yet still not chewy. The red wine really came through as well as the natural meat flavour. The mash underneath was buttery and smooth, but lack much lobster impact.
Moving onto dessert, I opted for the Deconstructed Cheesecake. With graham cracker dust atop berry gelatin amid clumps of tart cheesecake, this was not bad. As much as the thick portions of cheesecake were a bit sour, it was easily balanced off by the sweet jelly and strawberries. Viv decided on the Blueberry Pannacotta which was creamy and not too firm. It was purposefully sweet with a nice vanilla hit. The blueberries on top added some fruity sweetness, but I thought some lemon would've brightened things up (like a lemon-blueberry pannacotta). Even though the prices are on the higher side at La Buca, the value is there when you consider the portion size and food quality. We enjoyed our meal and didn't mind the pricing at all.
- Large portions
- Solid eats
- Attentive service
- Tasty, but more rustic than refined
- Tight seating