The Place Opened since June 215, La Ventana at Dempsey started out as a Spanish restaurant and collaborated with various Spanish Michelin-starred chefs. The spacious and lush restaurant recently appointed their new Head Chef Toni Valero, also from Spain, bringing along a new culinary direction. La Ventana has the luxury of a very well located space in the heart of Dempsey, with ample alfresco seatings surrounded by the lush greenery, while the interior takes on a casual and classy interior without the serious fine dining elements.
The Food The menu focused on small plates and Spanish tapas previously, with the new focus and direction on gastronomic cuisine where Chef is not fixated and constrained by merely Spanish elements. The menu is definitely more worldly with Asian influences this time, as Chef Toni has spent a considerable amount of time in Asia. The ingredients used are sourced both regionally as well as from Spain. We tried some of the dishes available on the Weekday 4-course Set Lunch Menu (S$50++ per person, additional S$50++ for wine pairing).
The Marinated Bonito, Chlorophyll Curry, Sprout Salad and Chilli Oil looks ordinary but it was a good start. There are a couple of spices here which I feel brings out the flavour of the bonito well, such as the curry and chilli oil. The Chlorophyll Curry alone is made up of 10 different types of herbs such as Dill, Tarragon and Thai Basil.
The Steam Bao with Pork Shoulder is a surprise as I didn’t expect such a dish and presentation from a non-Chinese restaurant. The pork shoulder meat was very tender, and paired along well with the Spanish Romesco sauce.
The Scallop with Cauliflower and Pandan purée is served with miso biscuit and kale. If you are expecting a strong Pandan flavour, that’s not the case here. The scallop is just lightly seared so the texture was just right for me, and I did enjoy the relatively stronger flavour of the cauliflower purée as a complement to the scallop.
For mains, we tried both the Wagyu Beef Cheek and Monkfish. The Wagyu Beef Cheek fared better in my opinion, as the flavours are richer and I tend to favour dishes like that more for mains. The accompanying Black Trumpet Cream was delicious.
The Monkfish here is pan-seared with Saffron foam and Kalamata olives emulsion, then dusted with Carabinero powder. The overall flavour here is light, though I’m not particularly fond of olives.
For desserts, we ended with the Curry Leaf Ice Cream served with Szechuan Strawberries and Lemongrass Gel. This flavour is very exotic, and an acquired taste I would rightly put it. The ice cream wasn’t outstanding on its own, though it went well with the accompanying ingredients like the berries.
Other than the set lunch menu on weekdays, there are also the Gastronomic Menu (S$108++ per person), Tasting Menu (S$148++ per person) and a la carte menu.
Rants There have been a couple of internal changes to the team at La Ventana and its menu for the past few months. We hope that all has stabilised by now.
Will I Return Again? La Ventana has a gorgeous space, though we would like to see a stronger character of the restaurant after its new culinary direction. Given its location, it should rightfully be a dining destination, just like The Dempsey Cookhouse. For now, perhaps with some more tweaking and fine-tuning, La Ventana will be a worthy spot for a return visit.
This was an invited tasting, though all opinions expressed are our own.
Taste bud: 3.5/5
Hole in the pocket: 4/5
Overall Experience: 3.5/5
Make your reservation instantly at La Ventana here.
Monday to Saturday: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 11pm
Sunday: 12pm to 3pm; 6pm to 10.30pm
Ranted by The Ranter