"Not Another Italian Restaurant"
Right to Left: Lovely fresh bread from the Favola kitchen; shell pasta baked in parchment paper; moreish and rich wagyu lasagne
Yes, that was my first thought when I heard that Al Nafourah was being demolished and replaced with a hot, spanking, new.... aiyo Italian again? Favola is the latest edition to Le Meridien's list of fine restaurants. I was fortunate enough to be invited to dinner last September along with several other food bloggers. Yes, nine months on, I'm finally blogging about it. And despite my initial scepticism, the meal is still fresh in my mind. For one thing, I found it really refreshing that the flavours were fresh and simple. And despite it being in a hotel, there is something quite warm and down to earth about the place. I'm just a little fed up with all these lun si Italian restaurants which is so wrong in my humble opinion.
What I remember most about the dinner was the seared scallops on a bed of chopped sauteed cauliflower. It was such a surprise because I think all of us thought it was risotto. It was nice to have the crisp texture of the cauliflower against the plump scallops. I also like the risotto with lobster. What amazing flavour! However, the rice was over cooked for me. Otherwise it would've been really good. An interesting dish was the mussels stuffed with chicken in tomato sauce. It sounds a little strange I know but it works. The chicken was very tasty but I think it was the novelty of it that really sold us. Definitely unusual and a talking point for me anyway as I've never had anything like that before. The shell pasta baked in parchment was light and had a lovely tomato sauce.
Left - mussels stuffed with chicken in tangy tomato broth. Right - plump and juicy seared scallops on a bed of cauliflower, gorgeous!
A couple of days ago, Sabby and I went to Favola for lunch. We didn't go for the crudo bar buffet as we were both craving for pasta. The set menu looked good too but we decided not to be greedy. Cuz joined us for lunch so we had a pasta each. I ordered the capellini with shrimp, chilli, mushroom and parsley. Sabby, ever the carnivore, went straight for the wagyu cheek lasagne and Cuz ordered gnocchi with crab dumplings. We were starving and fortunately our waitress was very swift with the piping hot bread and assorted dips. I lurve the bread at Le Meridien. It is oh so gorgeous! There was a really nice potato and pumpkin dip that we devoured within seconds. Lately I haven't had much of an appetite but when my pasta arrived, f%$# me sideways! It just hit the spot! I mean it was such a simple dish but the flavours just came together. It was tasty, subtle, appetising. In fact, I didn't want to share and Sabby liked it so much, we decided to order one more! Its hard to explain because its not as if it was anything special. It just goes to show when something simple is done right, it can be truly beautiful.
Left - simple but so lovely, capellini with shrimp, parsley, mushroom and chilli. Right - gnocchi with crab dumplings with pepper sauce.
The lasagne was as good as I remembered it to be but to be honest I would not have noticed it was wagyu if you didn't tell me. The gnocchi with crab dumpling was actually very nice but I didn't realise it came with a roasted pepper sauce. Its a personal thing because I really don't like peppers in any form except raw or grilled. So despite hearing mixed reviews about the dip in quality, I have to disagree. Every dish was still very clean on the palate and the prices haven't really gone up all that much. Its slightly cheaper than the various Neros but not as much as bang for your buck as Opus or Larisata in terms of pricing. Who would've thought hotel Italian restaurants could be unpretentious eh? Thank you for not having clanging plates and singing waiters.
Favola is located on the 8th Floor of Le Meridien Hotel. For more information, proceed to their website