Sunday, July 4, 2010

A Spectacular, Figuliar Lunch at Prego, Westin. Jalan Bukit Bintang, KL.

(no pork served, but be prepared for some Porn and Cheekiness below)

Left: Olive Oil (sans popeye) dispenser Right: The glorious roasted figs, drenched in Gorgonzola.

It has been a long time since I blogged properly about food, and had been driveling about boring little things that occupy my mind. Since the beginning of this year, I have been trying to be more objective about food and restaurants, and have tried to visit an establishment at least twice before offering my thoughts about that joint. Hence, an unhealthy backlog of photos and restaurants that are to be posted in this blog.

I am going to bend the rules a bit this time. I have been to Prego once, and it has impressed me. I have been avoiding Italian food for a bit of time, because, invariably I would be served some banal copy of Italian food. I shall not go into the details of how deceptively simple Italian cuisine is and how dependent it is on proper ingredients to bring out it's regional nuances, from the richer Northern cuisine to the more spartan, yet earthy Southern brothers. You guys probably know more about Italian Food than I do.

From Top left: 1. Bread and Tomato based dip. 2. The excellent Ravioli flying off the plate into my mouth. 3. What's a Fig without a cork? 4. The Corkless Roasted Fig, in blooming detail. 5. The Stage with it's wood fired oven.

When I first read about the new menu at Prego's from EatDrinkKL Sean's blog, I knew I had to try it at Prego. My last visit to Prego was menu moons ago, a previous reincarnation of the restaurant with a different chef. It did not impress me much and I did not return. I was a little bit skeptical about what I was going to be served there, and roped in 2 other friends as well.

Located directly opposite Pavilion (Prada enterance) means that it is a breeze to find. The ambient noise level is quite high and they have an open kitchen and two levels. Decor is modern and chic.

What the fig? The Paranoid Android is mad about this dissected Roasted Fig.

What do you get when you marry juicy, succulent and sweet figs from Brazil with salty, pungent Gorgonzola cheese? A match made in heaven. The figs had been roasted in a wood fired oven and the smokiness gave the figs a beautiful heady aroma that persisted and played with the beautifully pungent goat cheese. If there is a reason to visit Prego, it would be for this alone. We ordered two plates. If you never gave a fig about figs, it's time you did. Forget about the Fig Newtony Figs with that cloying stickiness. Fig the Crystallized Figs. Fresh Figs are the way to go, and hopefully, for here to stay.

The Beetroot Ravioli with the latest lip colours from Chanel and two feet on the ground. A sensible one, I say.

The Ravioli con Barbabietola e Ricotta was amazingly palatable as well. It differs from the version at Nerovivo which is boiled and served with beef cheeks. This was plain, the beetroot retaining it's granularity and blended in with Ricotta and probably some parmesan as well. The texture was commendable with a slightly crunchy Ravioli skin. It was served with some Poppy Seeds and pepper sprinkled on top, and some fried basil. The smoked Ricotta was firm, slightly "elastic" and very, very milky and rich. A very beautiful variation and departure from the usual run of the mill and soggy Ravioli.

Playing peek a boo with Cornelia the Calzone showing her knickers. Hardly La Senza. Zucchinis and Artichokes are already bland and humourless characters. Perhaps some adjustment to the seasoning is required to spice up their life?

The Calzone Bomba smelled lie a dream when it arrived at our table. This foldable/portable Pizza had a wood fired thin pizza skin like inflated crust which was slightly chewy, yet crisp. It was stuffed with Turkey Ham, Artichokes, Zucchini, Pesto Sauce, Tomatoes, Basil and Mozarella. Unfortunately the filling was a little bit too bland, and the Pesto/Basil was almost undetectable. Don't get me wrong, it was still a good Calzone, but being an old fusspot, it was just not spectacular.

The Banfi Estate is actually owned by American Itailans. This is good, but my favourites are still Poggio Antico and Il Poggione. Have not tasted the legendary Biondi Santi before.

Special mention must be made on the wine we tasted (we had a Long Creek Merlot). The Castello Banfi 2004 Brunello di Montalcino. Unlike the Chiantis or Super Tuscans, it is made from 100% Sangiovese grown in Montalcino (which is a DOCG district in wine snooty talk). The Banfi we tasted had a dark cherry red colour, with an opening nose of currants and berries. This crisp tasting wine has medium longevity and besides the usual notes tasted slightly herbacious which may be off putting to new world wine lovers. The notes can be slightly elusive and furtive due to it's relative youth and the tanins are well controlled.

From Top Left: 1. The poor fig after a botched boob job by me. 2. The Calzone puffing up in self importance like a dratted politician. 3. Miss Ravioli before Chanel 4. I am crafty. Posting here hoping that nobody will read it, but I need to have an outlet for emotional catharsis. The weakest link in the meal was the dessert. This Tiramisu was ahem... 5. The Gelato with Biscotti was ahem ahem ahem... Maybe they need to look into dessert menu.

Overall, it was a good lunch with the food exceeding my expectations. Service is efficient but hardly stellar until the arrival of the Restaurant Manager whose hospitality and efficiency immediately put us at ease. Prices were reasonable taking into account the food they served.


minchow said...

That was quick! I am guessing this means only one thing... I totally lucked out, boohoo!! I dare say Chanel and Carbs never saw eye to eye until this blissful union. Let's hope the grub at the ceremony later that made me miss Prego won't make me keel over in revolt.

CUMI & CIKI said...

larvely! wow.. u mean you are ALL THAT by yourself?! u must be truly stuffed.

What's a fig w/o a cork:P marrrrvelous .. haha.

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

i went to pregos many moons ago too, infact probably when i was still studying. had simple pasta and pizza and thought it was ok..

can think about this, considering i only have slightly less than a month in KL, dis is gonna b tough to fit in.

Sean said...

phew! am glad u enjoyed the figs!
ya, at last count, there are no less than 20 italian restaurants just in downtown kl, but i think only a dozen of them are truly worth their salt. for now, il lido and prego rank at the top for me, with everyone else straggling surprisingly far behind.

J said...

Food porn indeed! Can't say u didn't warn us....
*drools at photos of the figs*

thenomadGourmand said...

Lovely..can only fit tis in on w-ends since this deserves a long leisurely paced out amount of time.

But but where can we have a decent tiramisu?? Urghhh!!

in the sea said...

Roasted figs and beet root ravioli look very nice. Quite impressive with beet root made in ravioli. The photos are very nice. This new camera is a good companion with you. Cheers.

Paranoid Android said...

@ Min: LOL... Well, you missed the grub for a cool Toga party at the E&O. We missed your intelligent banter. But, there will be more!

@ Ciki: A Fig without a cork is just self gratification. LMAO! Of course I couldn't finish it all by myself. I had 007 and M there too! :p

Paranoid Android said...

@ Joe: Are you sure you want to give this a miss? The Figs were pretty darned awesome. But I guess there is plenty of that at Oz.

@ Sean: Agree with you about the dearth of good Italian Food around here. And Thanks so much for the heads up on Prego, you Cool Cat!

Paranoid Android said...

@J: Do join us next time we hit the road for some food...

@Nomad Gourmand: I will be more than willing to go there again! (hint! hint!)... Tiramisu? You got to ask Sean. The one at Cafe Cafe is not too shabby, if you can tolerate the Boudoir like ambiance.

Paranoid Android said...

@ Sky: How can I ever Thank you enough for recommending this camera to me? If not for you, I would not have been able to get the exposure correct! I am not a technical guy, and I have not even touched the Manual. LOL! It is my first DSLR, and I am loving it.

You have always been so helpful and, explaining about Chinese Cooking Wine and Yellow Sugar and telling me the finer points of Chinese Cuisine. Thank you, my friend. And Cheers to you too!

UnkaLeong said...

Recent reservations at Cafe Cafe were canceled...LOL but that is a story for another day. I got dressed up to go there y'day..only to find that they do champagne brunches on Sunday :(

in the sea said...

I enjoy sharing comments and things but excuse me if I say something harsh (HK people style.. haha) and I like to criticize some places charging unreasonble prices for lousy food. Likewise, you already made me itchy on buying more lens. I went to the camera shop this evening for browsing some macro lens and wide lens. 550D is a very good camera indeed, but still we need to read the menu more. The C&A function seems to be a very helpful handy for advanced but easier professional photo taking. Cheers!

Paranoid Android said...

@Unka: Too bad. Don't you think the ambiance of that place is a bit... ahem? LMAO.

Thailand Club said...

the roasted figs (whole dish of figs) r what i really want to eat but not available in restaurants

this Prego's serves fine Italian food, even during lunch

when i am sick of BKK tomatoes scene, now i get an option, head to KL :-)

Paranoid Android said...

@TC: Yes... It would be awesome to see you here in KL!

Thailand Club said...

i used to do my visa run every six months in Penang, local food there r gorgeous esp. CN food, i don't understand why Thai-CN here don't know how to cook our ancestors cuisine right!

now TH treats me well, no need to do visa run :-) then i miss Penang local food scene and Lone Pine on Ferringghi

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