While it might seem as if time gas stood still in the past few months, the seasons — and nature — wait for no man. Summer, it seems, has arrived at Buona Terra. This mean tomatoes, which first comes in the form of a trompe l’oeil-type bite of tomato gazpacho set with gelatin and encased in a sphere of cacao butter. The tomatoes used are from Le Jardin de Rabelais – a French greenhouse grower. This pretty much sets the whole tone for a meal at Buona Terra – no militant insistence on Italian ingredients, just whatever is good.
Snails, more commonly eaten in the cooler-climate Italian north, come cooked in a sofrito as a “ragu” (the question here is: are snails meat?) sitting in the bottom of a dainty eggshell cup, covered in vermouth sabayon. There is snow crab, which comes sheathed in green tomato as part of a larger food-assemblage of other green things like pencil asparagus, and cucumber – each manipulated in its own way in a show of fine dining-theatre.
Where head chef Denis Lucchi really shines though, is layering flavours on top of each other into approachable, endlessly moreish plates. Wagyu carpaccio – simple enough to understand and do well – gets upgraded several times over. The A5 Sendai wagyu first gets a quick cure, and is then tataki-ed over binchotan for a light smokiness. Sliced thinly, the beef is then stacked with respectively earthy and delicate porcini and ovoli mushrooms; as well as microgreens, a fresh herb sabayon, and black truffles. Nothing is unnecessary on this plate. It is very good.
There is also prized Mieral pigeon, dry aged, breasts and legs done separately of course. The game’s tinny meatiness is balanced out by requisite sweet elements – here brought to you by a combination of peaches, pumpkin, amaretto, and moscato.
If one is fond of vino, and even feeling just the slightest bit adventurous, wine director Gabriele Rizzardi has a “natural” wine program that’s electrifying without straying too far left. Enter an incredibly fresh, floral rose made with Moscato Rosa and wild-growing – yes, wine grapes grow in the wild too – Montapulciano.
Then is an earthy, layered, Vitovska (an idigenous Italian grape) from Gravner protege Paolo Vodopivec, to be eaten with wagyu carpaccio; and wines from Sicilian winemaker Giuseppe Russo, who makes wines on the slopes of Mount Etna. Rizzardi, who has been offering “natural” wines at the restaurant since the mid 2010’s, offers patrons a rare opportunity: to taste bottles from one of Italy’s natural wine pioneers, Graver, both before and after they transitioned into natural winemaking. Josko Gravner, who was already a respected winemaker when he was producing “normal” wines aged in stainless steel tanks, was one of the first producers in the country to embrace biodynamic farming and amphora-aging.
Dessert comes in the form of an aromatic pear and ricotta cake, a seasonal treat combining hazelnut sponge cake, ricotta mousse, and comice pears – for which the provenance of the lattermost, like those tomatoes, depends on what’s currently good.
29 Scotts Road. Tel: 6733-0209