We were staying at the Amari Orchid and read that the Mantra was the place to dine (from TripAdvisor). We booked through the club floor and was told that a romantic seat will be reserved for us.
As you enter through the doors, you are met with a high ceiling bar/waiting room area. Upon arrival, we told them our name and was immediately recognised as guests of the hotels. The hostess then asked where we preferred to sit. She brought us to the main dining hall through another set of doors and we were immediately greeted by different open kitchens. We then asked for a table upstairs and that did not disappoint.
We had the choice of sitting at a table for 2 against a wall (too claustrophobic for my liking) or at a booth seat (that can seat 4) that faces out to the dining room downstairs. You can't really see the diners unless you stand but you can see the diners seated at similar booth seats across the other wall on the ground floor.
When seated you are presented with a wine folder (very impressive selection) and a cocktail/beverage menu. Restaurant staff need to know that it's hard to choose a wine with the meal when you have no idea what you are going to eat! So we asked for the food menu and was presented with it immediately.
The menu wasn't described to us (the concept of the different kitchens available) but what caught our eyes was the Wine Pairing Dinner menu on the front page. We didn't bother with the rest of the menu and placed our order.
The bread was brought out; 6 bite sized cracker textured pieces. We were a bit disappointed and then the warm rolls were brought out later. 4 different types of bread baked into a single loaf! We were not told of the flavours nor did we bother asking. It tasted of normal wheat, plain and perhaps sundried tomatoes or something similar.
An amuse abuche was then brought out. Again, no one explained what we were eating. We then found out through taste it was Tuna Sashimi with a very generous helping of wasabi dressing of some kind on it. It left us breathless and choking for a minute before realising it's best to eat the rest of the tuna with a little bit of the dressing!
The first course started off with a bubbly! Then the food started arriving with wonderfully paired wine:
Salmon Carpaccio with Shallot Oil, Salmon Cavier and Arugula Salad / Michel Lynch Sav Blanc 2010 (FRA)
Very finely sliced salmon served with Fried Shallot and a fair bit of Salmon Cavier. Very light taste to the palate with a nice asian twist added by the fried shallots
Morel cream soup with Truffle Foam / Kookaburra's Laughing White Chardonnay 2003 (AUS)
It was simply the best mushroom soup I've ever tasted. The truffle foam had only a slight taste and it didn't overpower the taste of the morels
Pan Fried Foie Gras on a forest berry compote / Tahuna Pinot Noir 2010 (NZL)
The berry compote went very well with the foie gras and the wine. This was the favourite of the night as we felt the pairing was perfect
Lava Grilled Australian tenderloin with polenta, ratatouille & thyme jus / Chiramonte Nero d'Avola 2008 (ITA)
We asked for our meat to be cooked medium rare, it came slightly charred and a little overcooked for my liking. The thyme jus was very subtle and it went well with the steak. I wasn't too impressed with the ratatouille as it lacked the "ummp". it was a little too bland for my liking.
Freshly baked caramelised banana tart with honey glazed macadamia and hazelnut ice cream / Echeverria Sav Blanc late harvest 2007 / (CHILE)
Baked banana on a puff pastry-like tart served with a light nut flavoured ice cream. A perfect way to end the dinner
Cheese selection from our Trolley / Dow's fine ruby port
We were not shown any cheese on any trolley. Instead, they "chose" the cheese that they thought we would like (or there wasn't a trolley to begin with!)
Assortment of cheese. Nothing to scream about.
Overall, the dining experience was a standard smart dining experience. I won't say it was fine dining. A slight disappointment that when dishes were presented to us, they were not explained or at least highlighted what course it was. The only way we knew what we were eating is because they had a Wine Dinner Menu card placed in front of us.
The timing of delivery of the course was perfect. Not too rushed or too slow. We might go back the next time and try the dishes from the main open kitchens.
A word of warning: Sitting upstairs meant that the "smells" from the kitchen downstairs travel upwards and you may come out smelling of food.
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