Words: Han Sen Hau Photos: Monica Tindall
Upon entering the Gastro Project and noticing the checkered tiles, dark furniture, streaks of burgundy painting the walls—strictly the colour, though the idea of wine cascading on walls is an idea worth patenting—you’d feel as if you’ve entered one of those fancy pubs that exude a sort of moody broody charm that’s mitigated only by the smiles of Julia Roberts, the Godfather (de Niro, not Brando), and other Hollywood stars as they peer over you and your meal.
|The Gastro Project – Dining Area|
The muted sensual appeal of the place, however, contrasts the food that’s served on the table, all of which adopt a friendlier and familiar allure that can only be ascribed to mother’s best recipes, updated with a little more pizzazz, no less. How apt then that we were invited to sample The Gastro Project’s Mother’s Day menu that would make its debut sooner than you think… you haven’t forgotten to get mommy dearest a card now, have you?
|The Gastro Project – Bar|
From the menu, we began with two consommés to whet our appetites: the Clear Consommé with Chicken Tortellini, and the vegetarian Tomato Consommé with Mixed Vegetables Tortellini. Both are pretty full-flavoured, though I prefer the latter for its tomato base. They do serve this in a rather large and deep plate and I did hope to see more dumplings swimming around in it but alas, considering we had three other mains to go through, I wouldn’t want to overstretch myself too quickly.
|Vegetarian Tomato Consomme|
The first of these was the Oven Baked Salmon Fillet with Orange Beurre Blanc and Sautéed Broccoli. A good start, and the orange sauce complements the fish nicely, though a little goes a long way and some may find it a little too intense for a dish this delicate, of which the salmon is as it breaks, not slides, off the blade. Had the fish been prepared otherwise, it may not have paired so well with the sauce.
|Oven Baked Salmon Fillet|
The subsequent Parmiggiano Cheese Crust Chicken Breast with Sautéed Japanese Mushroom and Supreme Foam was something I imagined would look great next to a woodland-inspired centerpiece during Christmas thanks to its generous use of mushrooms. The dish is as delightful in its taste as it is in its simple presentation, though it would’ve benefited more from a thinner cut.
|Parmiggiano Cheese Crust Chicken Breast|
The last Light Creamy Fedellini Pasta with Porcini and Wild Mushroom, another vegetarian fare, features six different types of wild mushrooms, and is a departure from the heavier couple of mains we’ve had. A refreshing change with pasta that’s cooked al dente and the heady fragrance from the mushrooms, the dish is enhanced with a drizzle of truffle oil that we promise isn’t an overkill.
|Fedellini Pasta with Porcini and Wild Mushrooms|
As for dessert, we had a Caramelised Apple Mille-Feuille that looked as if it came straight out of a Korean drama series. The kind that looks so meticulously put together and much too pretty to eat, like the stars that have won the hearts of so many fans the world over, and like the stars, this crumbly little delight has won ours. I’m very glad they chose to serve this with a big plate, so you could crush and maim it with your fork with abandon and hear the layers crackle as you do. The addition of the apples and strawberries do much to balance an otherwise creamy and buttery dessert, and this is something I would return to if it ever becomes a staple item on their regular menu.
|Caramelized Apple Mille-Fueille|
Our journey doesn’t end with the Mother’s Day menu, however, as we were also entreated to several items off the Gastro Project’s regular and upcoming menu. Two new items that customers can expect in their updated menu include a humble Potato and Leek Soup, and a Pan Seared Barramundi served with Hong Kong Kailan and Anchovy Butter. The soup was creamy and a little “rough around the edges”, which I enjoyed immensely for texture and was unlike something you’d have prepared in a blender. The Pan Seared Barramundi was pleasant too with its well-seasoned flesh that goes well with the accompanying mashed potatoes, which I find myself Tallulah Bankhead-ing over (like this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMeNnhpzcJA&t=6m18s).
|Potato and Leek Soup|
|Pan Seared Barramundi|
The Japanese Style Salad off the regular menu was an invigorating miscellany of avocados, pomegranate seeds, mixed salad leaves and toasted pine nuts, all coated with a light sesame dressing that escapes the nose but captivates the tongue. In sharp contrast to the cool salad is the decadent Orrechiette, “ear-shaped” pasta that’s completely coated in cheese. As you navigate through the sticky pasta, you’ll occasionally find among the sausages and meatballs a shot of cumin bombarding your palate much like wasabi would, only more pleasurable. It is crucial that this dish is savoured hot, as it loses its luxurious chewiness after about twenty minutes so don’t be afraid to be a little messy if you have to.
|Japanese Style Salad|
We ended with Luxurious, a chocolate lava cake served with vanilla ice cream and caramelised red chilli. I like the use of red chilli here, though I was anticipating a greater kick at the back of my throat to complement the marriage of cocoa and vanilla in my mouth. It would’ve also been nice to be able to enjoy this in a bigger plate so that we needn’t fear of chocolate spilling over the edges (not that that has happened… so far) as we maul the dessert.
Reasons to visit: Caramelised Apple Mille-Feuille; relaxed ambiance; community or private events on the mezzanine floor, a great intimate venue I imagine would be perfect for movie screenings.
* Mother’s Day Menu
Full Course – RM80++ (comes with complimentary Mocktail Virgin Ginger Mimosa)
The Gastro Project
25 Jalan 17/56,
46400 Petaling Jaya,
+603 7931 6465