June 11, 2016

Macau with Bear: lunch at 8½

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After taking Bear on the Batman Dark Flight ride - which makes it three days in a row for him - we left Studio City and dragged our bags across the road to Galaxy Macau.  This was my first time walking into the giant complex, and thanks to me not doing sufficient homework, we literally walked from one end to the opposite side in order to get to 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana.

Upon arrival we were led around to the back entrance of the restaurant, which looked like it was set up for guests dining in the private rooms... as they can get to the rooms discreetly without passing through the main area of the restaurant.  No doubt the real VIPs appreciate this type of arrangement.

Having been turned away for this meal by Robuchon au Dôme due to Bear being under age and the private room having been booked by another party - I advised the restaurant regarding our Bear situation.  Initially, the staff on the phone insisted that Bear is under age and could not dine in the restaurant.  I protested and informed her that not only has Bear dined at a number of fine dining restaurants, he has in fact dined at 8½ Otto e Mezzo Bombana in Hong Kong!  Mama Bear even took the extra step of sending me a couple of pics of Bear posing with Chef Umberto Bombana in the Hong Kong restaurant, in case the staff insisted on their policy.  Fortunately, the restaurant decided to accommodate us by seating us in one of the private rooms.

The set lunch seemed like a very good deal, so I chose not to order à la carte.  I also chose not to have a main course, and had dessert instead.

Marinated amberjack : fennel salad, citrus vinaigrette, apple mint - the fennel was nice and a little crunchy.  A very refreshing dish, thanks to the citrus and mint.

8½ seafood soup : shellfish, fresh herbs, "trombetta" zucchini - while this wasn't as thick and rich as a bouillabaisse, it was still incredibly flavorful and delicious.  Came with a slice of scallop and some slices of lobster.

Homemade chitarra spaghetti : lobster, seafood jus, citrus - you just can't go wrong with ordering chitarra here... especially when it's made with shellfish.  Here the chef dispensed with the "regular" carabinero or gambero rosso, and we ended up with lobster instead.  Not only was the fresh chitarra well-made, that tomato seafood sauce was so, so, so delicious.  I could have taken a second bowl for sure.

"Latte" and strawberry : fior di latte ice cream, fresh berries, vanilla chantilly - that ice cream was just very milky and smooth... the strawberries and raspberries worked nicely with the ice cream and the chantilly... and we got some nice crunch, too.

Petits fours

We didn't want to drink much, so a couple of us took a glass of wine.

2011 Gini Soave Classico - pretty flat on the palate, a little bit of oak.

As usual, I was responsible for tasting the wine... and found no reason not to accept this freshly uncorked bottle.  So three glasses were poured.  Hello Kitty thought the wine was corked, although I still didn't find the evidence obvious.  But then again, I'm not as sensitive to TCA as some others.  As I had already accepted the wine, I followed etiquette and chose not to kick up a fuss.  After all, the wine wasn't undrinkable... it just didn't give much pleasure.

But my dining companions weren't happy with my decision and mentioned this to manager Danny Allegretti.  He tasted the wine and opined that it was oxidized but not really corked.

Nevertheless, he offered us another wine as replacement.  We certainly wouldn't have any issues with TCA for this bottle... since the closure is not actually cork but a screwcap!

2014 Ceretto Langhe Arneis Blangé - very fragrant and floral, almost perfume-like, with tropical stone fruits, some oak, and flint.

This was a very, very good lunch - which wasn't a surprise to any of us.  Chef Antimo Maria Merone's talents are certainly put to much better use here compared to his previous kitchen, and Bear liked his pasta so much that he asked the staff to tell the chef that it was the best pasta he's ever had.  The service was certainly top-notch today as Danny kept a watchful eye over us the whole time.  Guess I'll file this place as somewhere we can come back to... and also recommend to others.

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