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Aria Bistro & Wine Bar: Quality over Quantity
Reviewed by : Debbie Teo. Other Foodadvisor Writers?
Nestled in Singapore's thorny arts centre – The Esplanade – is a curiously reticent French restaurant. Aria was previously known as Les Saisons at Central Mall and only shifted into its new premises on the prime waterfront land at Marina Bay in 2007, bearing its new name, Aria. Since its fresh beginning as a tribute to the arts, Aria has attracted a regular crowd who appreciates the restaurant for its artistic flair and understated sophistication.

  • The Vibe
    The restaurant may be small, sitting up to only 45 indoors, but it's a restaurant of taste. Decked out in matted shades of black, grey and white, Aria emits a moody yet chic vibe in its monochromatic scheme. The modern retro décor is further enhanced by hanging bronze industrial chains that double up as heavy-duty curtains, offering a partial sense of privacy without cutting back on style.
  • The Food
    With Chef Kelvin Loke fronting the kitchen, Aria serves Classical French cuisine with hints of Italian influences. Skip right into your meal with a red wine scented Lobster Bisque ($15) whose rich, creamy taste will have your tongue reeling in sheer delight. Served alongside, are two crispy blue prawns done in fueille de brick style which complements the smooth bisque with its freshness, very well indeed.

    Aria's most popular starter of Foie Gras ($28) is definitely not hailed as the house specialty for no reason. The goose liver is pan seared lightly, so it's crispy outside and creamily soft on the inside, and smeared with marmalade made with bourbon vanilla. Having the flavour burst forth in your mouth as you take a morsel of the foie gras is superb, especially when you pair it with the quenelle of tomato. Don't ignore the thick balsamic and green salad on the side – its truffle vinaigrette is appetising and a great balance to the heaviness of foie gras.

    Cruise into the main courses at Aria with a Wagyu Beef Cheek ($32), which Aria prides in. This flavourful dish of Wagyu beef cheek is braised in red wine to utmost tenderness; in fact, it is so tender that the beef separates into delectably sticky strands upon my tongue. Served with potato puree and sautéed vegetables, this is a hearty main course that every self-proclaimed meat-lover must try.

    If you prefer a lighter main course, Aria's Seabass ($30) is bound to please. Seabass fillet is pan-fried to a slight crisp and served in a shellfish emulsion sporting garlic, melted leek and bacon. The fish is firm and sweet with freshness but a tad dry, especially once it cools off. Personally, I found the shellfish emulsion too light for my liking as I like my food bursting with flavour but I daresay this is one dish that will go down very well with other ladies.

    A meal at Aria is never complete without one of their dandy signature desserts. Take your pick between the Warm Chocolate ($15) and Cold Chocolate ($14), two sinfully scrumptious cocoa desserts with vastly different tastes. The Warm Chocolate features a semi-bitter dark Belgian chocolate fondant served with a scoop of vanilla/espresso ice cream; the Cold Chocolate dishes out ‘opera', a slice of sweet chocolate cake as a showcase of the Esplanade. Personally, I found the chilled cake too saccharine for my utmost enjoyment whereas the Warm Chocolate provides truly a comforting and contented end to my meal with its addictive bitter-sweet cocoa goodness.

  • The Service
    The staff at Aria is well-trained to make you feel pampered with their manners, attentiveness and enthusiasm. Bread and butter is swiftly served upon your arrival and your glass of ice water is always refilled to the brim. Lunchtime sees a sizeable crowd in the modest premise of Aria but the staff is always on hand to offer more bread or water. Patrons can also request for wine recommendations – the knowledgeable staff will help you find a complementary Chardonnay or dessert wine for your meal at Aria.

SD Food Advisor's Take on Aria Bistro + Wine Bar
The prices are quite steep but considering the restaurant's ambience and food quality, Aria is a good place to impress your business clients with. Really, there's nothing as impressive as great, personal service that can win a patron's heart. I was most impressed when they noticed that I dropped my napkin on the ground before I realised it myself and promptly exchanged it for a fresh, clean one. Now, that is a great personal touch in a crowded lunchtime Aria.

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