Friday, June 17, 2016

Usquba at One Fullerton - A Refined Simplicity

Usquba is like a breath of fresh air. Yet, the cuisine formulated at this week old joint at One Fullerton is hardly considered avant garde.

If anything, it harks back to a more familiar European tradition of classic techniques, albeit enhanced by some necessary modern tweaks here and there.

It is Scottish themed, but you will not see black pudding and haggis. Instead, the plates that are expedited from the main kitchen speak of a clean aesthetic, coupled with subtle approaches that betray a high level of cooking.

True enough, the early skeptics that went prior to my own outing came bearing whispers of unfulfilled expectations and underwhelming comments. How wrong they are, or perhaps, it is just mere ignorance that permeates our social food influencer community these days.

They are perhaps oblivious to the exquisite levels of cooking techniques on display, and barring some outlandish plating with a million components, very few are able to appreciate the difficulty in achieving blissful simplicity.

Foie Gras and Waffles

A well chosen piece of French goose liver is possibly the thickest cut I have come across this year. Beautifully caramelised, the balsamic and fruit providing the requisite acidity and balance. It is the addition of the brittle waffle that proved slightly puzzling as the intention was probably to provide some crunch to the occasion.

Pork Cheeks Ravioli

A dish to behold would be this Pork Cheeks Ravioli in a delicate earthy porcini sauce that had me lapping up every last spoonful of the delicious jus. The pasta sheets were well executed as well, just about the right texture for a good bite and some meaty and flavourful filling from the pork cheeks to round up the dish wonderfully. Hardly anything to fault here and one of the best ravioli plates outside of Alba.

Duet of Aberdeen Beef

Another dish where the techniques were on full display. The tenderloin beautifully done to a perfect medium rare, and the beef juices cleverly imprisoned within the protein for both a good bite and that intoxicating beef flavour.

The short ribs were equally stunning, carefully braised to a hairpin tender texture that required no additional chewing. The side of a Michelin calibre mash ensured that we have the classic steak and potato flavour profile, and a sweet and fruity plum jus to bind all the elements together. Simple, classic and ultimately a dish of the year for me for staying true to tradition whilst paying attention to modernistic approaches.

Usquba Fish and Chips

The most elegant rendition of fish and chips you will find here. Sous vide cod and a pommes maxim with a mushy pea puree is the epitome of french cooking techniques and methods. Each component is hard to pull off and yet, the cooking team managed to nail each aspect to a tee.

The plating is beautiful with a sense of a garden serenity to match the intricate flavours concealed in each of the ingredients. Forget the fact that it is a play on a classic pub fare, and just enjoy the elements in all its sophisticated glory. Not many will understand how hard it is to pull this off, but if you have a subtler and kinder palate, there is a lot to enjoy and savour here.

Chocolate Delice

The desserts were even simpler, though no lack of effort was detected either. The chocolate mousse was a joy with its use of premium dark chocolate and the embedding of nuts to give it that textural necessity.

A garnish of fruits was sufficient to complete the dessert plate as some desserts are as good as chocolate and fruits without much embellishment. This is one of them.

Elsewhere, Usquba has a range of cocktails and whiskeys for the patched throats and their take on a classic gin and tonic was my favourite. I do wish that restaurants can source for better teas though.

I really enjoyed the attentive service as well, and the servers are among the best that I have come across throughout the island. Friendly, smart and always keeping their eyes on the diners are attributes that seem like a rarity these day.

For those who appreciate great cooking, Usquba is definitely worth the time. For those who prefer a more striking sense of gastronomy, this may not necessarily wow you. Especially if you only eat with your eyes.

Otherwise, Usquba is definitely one of the best new restaurants this year.

1 Fullerton Road
One Fullerton

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