Love the Favola logo with the various pasta shapes that you can even find on the lift doors
1. Favola all over. 2. divine bread. 3. heavenly potato truffle dip
One of the most important things I learnt from last year is people absolutely love gifts. After meeting my Amedei chocolates winner & fellow foodie, Eliana Lee to pass her prize, I've found that feel-good factor a little addictive that I've got another little surprise for all of you at the bottom of the post. Hope you will like it - just call it a tiny payback for all those Nuffnang RM that you help me earn from those clicks. It's only a tip of the iceberg versus the top bloggers earnings, but it is just enough to fund a few gifts here and there for my loyal readers.
1. red Murano chandeliers add some dolce vita. 2. panzerotti - resembles our curry puff on the outside but it is Italian to it's core. 3. sardines from the appetizer plate
Back to this review - the much anticipated replacement dining establishment at Le Meridien Hotel for the magnificent Middle Eastern Al-Nafourah. I must admit, I was a little skeptical when I heard it was an Italian eatery coming our way - thinking to myself, "do we really need another Italian place opening up here when so many are sprouting up everywhere?" Nevertheless, judging from the people crowding here to sample the food (we returned on a Saturday night without a booking and had to sit at the temporary side table as it was pretty full of people) - I guess there's no such thing as too much Italian food as Malaysians are lapping it all in.
1. mussels with chicken served with tomato sauce. 2. scallops served on a bed of cauliflower masquerading as risotto topped with truffle
From the moment you step out of the lifts to the eighth floor, you will be greeted by the wait staff chiming out "Buonasera" who will lead you to the dining area. The restaurant is given an Italian feel with a large painted mural on one side depicting a masquerade ball and rustic painted wooden beams on top where jewel red Murano glass chandeliers hang from. Along the corridor leading into the restaurant, you will be greeted by a wall hung with a variety of Venetian masks. Chairs decked in red allow you to lean back in comfort.
1. lobster risotto. 2. comfy laidback chairs to place your butt. 3. baked pasta shells
While you unravel their uniquely presented scroll-like menu - you will be given complimentary breads and three kinds of dips that changes flavour on a daily basis. Each table is given a small foccacia loaf studded with tomatoes, ciabatta bread and three types of grissini or breadsticks - two hard ones and one flaky puff pastry variety. The dips can vary from my absolute favourite - the truffle scented potato to other varieties like the anchovy potato, eggplant and the absolute basic olive oil with balsamic vinegar. With those delicious dips, you inevitably end up filling most of your tummy space with the fluffy breads - we do suggest some resistance especially if you're on a no-carb diet but honestly, it's kinda futile with such deliciousness in front of you.
wagyu beef lasagna - 1. dressed down. 2. in layers.
There's a long list of antipasti available, about 16 cold (freddo) and hot (caldo) varieties that cost RM20 each. If you don't want to pick and choose, there's always the sampler plate for RM35 where you get 5 antipasti to try. The selection ranges from classics like caprese - the must have mix of tomatoes with fresh buffalo mozzarella, breasola aka shaved dried beef that is served with fresh fig, pink peppercorns and rocket salad, bruschettas topped with cured salmon, portabello mushrooms and etc. My absolute favourite out of the cold varieties - the sardines sauteed with onions and raisins in olive oil and vinegar. Don't miss out on the hot varieties especially the divine roasted scallops served on a bed of cauliflower florets chopped so finely that it resembles risotto and dusted with black truffle shavings (Pssst it's so good, I reckon this will be my must-have everytime I visit here!). I also enjoyed the unusual pairing of fresh mussels with a minced chicken and herbs stuffing in one side of the shell. My other favoruite were the crunchy cod fritters served with a divine creamy garlic sauce. If antipasti is not your cup of tea, they also have three types of soups available - a hearty minestrone, a seafood tomato and saffron soup and a clear beef consomme served with egg, parmesan cheese and croutons. One very unusual item in the menu is the little known panzerotti - resembling curry puffs, this is mini calzones stuffed with either mushrooms or vegetables that are deep fried versus baked in an oven. You can order this more for the novelty value but honestly give it a miss as it tends to be a little too oily and a non-event in terms of the taste department.
1. Venetian masks. 2. Roast lamb shoulder. 2. Veal osso bucco. 3. Veal escalopes done two ways
For the invited review, we didn't get to sample their 10 inch pizzas but in my revisit, we finally did and was bowled over by the texture even though the toppings were a little sparse. Simply lovely especially with the thin crispy crust from the wood fire oven. Six varieties for RM35-RM45 are available that include traditional tomato, one topped with fresh mozarella and basil pesto, grilled artichokes, spicy lamb sausage, grilled chicken and a Venetian seafood one. We sampled the Venetian one topped with lobster, scallops, prawns, calamari and clams.
tiramisu that will give you an ultimate "pick-me-up"
No Italian meal will be complete without pastas! Here you get a pick of freshly made pastas - black ink tagliolini, linguini and the thicker parpadelle. Dry pastas are also available like spaghetti, vermicelli thin capellini and penne. Choose which sauces you wish to eat the pastas with - bolognese, polpetta aka meat balls in tomato basil sauce (huge portion but the minced meat was a little less springy and a bit too dense), spicy arrabbiata, aglio olio pepperoncino that has bird's eye chilli, creamy funghi or mushrooms and gamberetti or prawns served with pine nuts, tomato sauce. The pastas are priced between RM30 to RM40. They also serve potato gnocchi and baked conchiglioni shells in a tomato seafood based sauce (yummy stuff!) Also within the pasta and risotto section, you have one of their signature dishes - lasagna al forno (RM40) made with luxe braised wagyu beef cheek, chicken ravioli and scallop and lobster tortellini. Three types of risotto are available - we sampled the lobster variety that tasted like Neptune's catch.
dolci dolci....1. fruitti di miso. 2. almond pannacotta
If you have room after the primi or first course of pasta (that's why portions are not huge for your pastas!), there's the secondi or main courses. A variety of chicken, lamb, sword fish, veal, prawns and black angus beef is available from RM50 to RM90. We sampled three items - the veal osso bucco, veal escalope served two ways: panseared with lemon butter sauce and breadcrumb coated and roasted lamb shoulder. The veal osso bucco won me over with its fork-tender meat and rich beefy sauce.
A must to end an Italian meal - a little grappa to grimace over before heading home!
Last but not least - leave room for desserts especially the ultimate pick-me-up in town aka Favola's tiramisu (RM20) - sponge drenched with Illy coffee, soft billowy mascarpone cream and these cutesy crunchy cookie croutons that gives you a teeny "pop" in the mouth after you have eaten them. Also good is the frutti di bosco - fresh ricotta cream with berries and the wobbly almond-scented panna cotta. Make sure you also end the meal with some grappa just like the Italians do. You get a variety of grappa here - the lighter milder ones with limoncello or the chocolate milk one. For a head spinning effect, go for the Grappa Alexander Platinum - guaranteed to make your head pop and wake up for the journey home based on the grimaces from those who sampled it.
On a final word, despite my initial negative feelings about the place (another Italian again!), I must admit I do like the food at Favola. It's definitely a feed-good dining place and I love the pizzas, the scallops, sardines, the veal osso bucco and the rock-me tiramisu. Thumbs up to the breads and dips too! On the cards here for lunch, you have a value-for-money antipasti buffet that you select from the crudo bar for RM35++ i.e pickles, fresh breads, cold appetizers to eat to your heart (or tummy) is contented. For more pictures, see my Flickr set.
Le Meridien Hotel
Tel: 03-2263 7434
(Pork free. Restaurant is open daily for lunch and dinner except for Saturday lunchtime. Reservations is highly recommended as the place can get quite full especially for dinnertime. The restaurant can seat up to 95 persons and also has two private dining rooms).
Last but not least, to celebrate the start of a new year, I'm giving away two complimentary dining vouchers for Favola, Le Meridien Hotel Kuala Lumpur worth RM150 nett each. The vouchers are valid until 23 June, 2010. To be one of the winners for the dining vouchers, it's very very simple. You just need to come up with the funniest conversation between the two characters in the mural in the above picture.
Rules of the competition:
1. Multiple entries are allowed, so keep them coming in to increase your chances of winning.
2. Keep the language to PG-13 please (kids are watching!).
3. Make it as witty and funny as you can - you need to make your judges laugh till they pee in their pants!!
4. Originality counts towards winning, so no copying please.
5. Send in the entries to email@example.com by midnight, 8 January, 2010 (Friday)
6. Judges will run through the entries and announce the winners on 13 January, 2010 (Wednesday).
7. The competition is open to everyone. In the event, the winner is from overseas, the voucher will be mailed to you. Alternatively, you can nominate a resident in Malaysia to collect the same on your behalf, if preferred.