There's something about having dinner at a museum that raises your expectations. You imagine stubbornly traditional food, plated like works of art and whisked from the kitchen by bowtied waiters as Vivaldi swells around them. Not quite for Aura.
The latest restaurant from Beppe de Vito is hardly as stuffy – although a stern word should be issued to its interior designer, whose idea of 'museum restaurant' seems to be plucked from the 'Nouveau Riche for Dummies' manual. No, it's all about the food here. Like de Vito's Osteria Art, Aura finds its niche in the rustic, stick-to-the-ribs fare of his Italian roots. But unlike that CBD restaurant, this one’s bold enough to tinker - just a little - with tradition.
A trio of Hokkaido scallops with porcini ($38) appear as though they sit on a puttanesca sauce - it turns out to be puréed beetroot, sweet, moreish and, as a nod to its lookalike, lifted by capers. The bivalves are plump, juicy and with just the right amount of raw in the middle. This was the most complex dish we ordered. It was also the best.
The pasta here is separated into two categories: homemade and 'artisanal', the latter of which our server sheepishly admits is bought. So we opted for one of the former, a pappardelle with oxtail and mushrooms ($26). This is comfort on a plate – tender, gelatinous meat tangoing with the al dente sheets. Who needs ladles of sauce when the oxtail dissolves on the tongue?
Not all are hits, though. The recommended crispy frog legs ($25) are bland until you dip them in the accompanying basil and garlic cream. The grilled octopus ($25) is big on flavour but is a tad too chewy.
Desserts-wise, Aura whips up solid puddings in the form of the tart, tropical and refreshing mango and coconut trifle ($15), and the decadent Bailey’s and hazelnut feuillantine ($15). But we suggest heading up one floor to Aura Sky Lounge, where the cocktails ($16- $24) are middling – skip the acerbic whisky sour at all costs – but the view of the Civic District and Marina Bay spectacular.
Time Out Singapore reviews anonymously and pays for all meals. Read our restaurant review policy here.
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