Buttero @ Tras Street: Once bitten, twice shy

Tras Street, on the periphery of Spore's wheeling and dealing financial district has developed into some sort of food mecca for the office workers in need of some after work pampering. Stationed right smack in the middle of this hot mess is newly opened Buttero, rebel-child Italian bistro.

This review may reveal an overload of gastronomical porn images, but do bear with me. On hindsight, this restaurant was reviewed twice on two very different occasions to get a grasp of its consistency with regards to food and service. My first visit was a walk-in in the middle of afternoon service on a Tuesday. Despite the odd day of the week, business was brisk and the diner was filled with corporate clients in search for a quick lunch. Except that.. the food didn't arrive all too swiftly. Faults with the minuscule hole in the wall kitchen I might say, or perhaps the fresh team trying to work out some their SOPs.

We started off our lunch with the Chopped Pork and Zucchini Fritters with charred lime and ricotta cheese ($20), a stellar dish in the kitchen's repertoire. The chopped pork, a fatty and soft affair that added pops of joy to the fragrant zucchini fritters. The torn basil elevating the dish with its herbaceous characteristics.

This was followed closely with the lunch special, a Triple Cheese and Truffle Toastie ($15),  that's where things starting heading south. As much as I appreciate the efforts behind the chef sourcing the traditional jaffle irons, this UFO dish like sandwich came across a little lacklustre in flavor. The cheeses not yielding to the heat sufficiently to attain that dreamy stretchy texture and the promised aroma of truffle threatening to disappear after a single waft.

I turned to our main course for a miraculous resurrection.

The Porchetta ($32) from the rotisserie served with braised beans reminded me of a dish I had in Sydney a while back. http://snapeatlove.blogspot.com.au/2014/05/chica-linda-timely-facelift.html . The similarities are uncanny, yet the results are staggeringly different, with Buttero's version paling in comparison; it's crisp crackling brimming with refined salt that bites harshly at the tongue when savoured. A tinge more sauce could have made it to the plate to balance out the overall fattiness of the dish.


On my second visit (invited this time), I was blown away with the Chef's credentials. Previously hailing from Lucio's in Paddington, Sydney, Executive Chef Logan Campbell not only looks suave while flailing his knife in the air, he has the work experience in this long standing Italian joint to back him up. 

Clouds began to lift.

Expectations set in.

House Special, Jesus Juice helps to set the mood. A granita of pinot noir and coke, this basically tasted like a frozen sangria slushie. Delicious, and I might say, quite potent.

For the peckish, go for the Pulled pork, Waffle fries & Mozzarella ($15),  moreish and perfect for sharing over a bottle of wine. The texture of the pulled pork was winsome, the generous slew of triple cheese sauce over the piping hot waffle fries making it an absolute delight to munch on.

One of my favourite dishes of the night was the Torn Buffalo Mozzerella & Fried Cornbread ($21) with heirloom tomato, sabu and Ligurian Olive oil. This was a fail proof, simple formulation of ingredients, but the entirety of it given a little snap, crackle and pop resulting with an end product that is more satisfying than some high end salad landscape. Chef Logan really paid homage to his Italian heritage with this offering.

Once again, the Chopped Pork and Zucchini fritters with charred lime and ricotta cheese ($20) delivered. I griped a little about the dwindling portion of ricotta cheese on the plate, but overall still an outstanding plate.

We stretched our waistbands a little bit more for the arrival of the mains. First, the Handmade Gnocchi, sauteed brussel sprouts with honey, lemon and sage ($21). A generous inclusion of cheese within the knobs of potato and flour creating soft springy pillows of goodness with a slight browned crust, a result of being sauteed in the pan at the very last minute. Flavors were delicate in this dish, highlighting the simplicity of eating clean.

Baked Barley with New Zealand Clams and Belly Bacon: a brilliant dish with a twist of old school mindsets where barley rice is used to replace the traditional arborio in this risotto dish. The barley was cooked to perfection with its turgidity resembling the hardy grains of normal arborio rice.

The two meats that followed was a repeat act of my previous experience and another much more stellar performance.

Once again, the Porchetta ($32) resulted in me drowning in an ocean of salt water. The raw grains of salt on the crackling dulling the taste buds to the robustness of the flesh.

However, the Dirty Steak ($34) was a showstopper, the Carolina dry rubbed wagyu flank steak cooked on hot coals, topped with verde, onion rings and shallots was one word, mesmerising. Put at the mercy of the grills, the meat attains a heady, smoky, a thoracic warmth and cumulates in a smack down with the spice rub so generously massaged in before hand. The verde helps to tone the spiciness down with its piquancy of flavors. The only downfall of the dish were the onion rings, the batter, a stodgy affair that denies its recent get-together with the deep-fryer. I tossed those aside in favor of the conjugal bliss of meat and spices. Definitely a MUST-ORDER in Buttero.

Following up with a rather non-conventional dessert menu, I was keen to sample the goodies. Starting off with the Cannoli filled with whipped ricotta, lemon and strawberry salad ($12), these could have been the perfect dessert to end off an Italian feast, the amalgamation of textures from crisp to dreamy cream putting a smile on my face. I just wish that cannoli was a little more fresh. The Milk Chocolate Rosemary pot with orange blossom air ($12) encountered some storage facility mishaps before arriving at our tables, the orange blossom fluff looking more like orange creme anglaise above the warmish milk chocolate cream at the bottom of the jars. Those who are impartial towards the orange chocolate combination should avoid this dessert at all cause. The best dessert of the lot has to be the Vanilla bean Panna Cotta with crushed peanut butter meringue and passionfruit ($12), a traditional dessert executed with finesse and a little magic dust thrown in with that crisp shard of peanut butter meringue.

Buttero sells itself uniquely amongst the hodgepodge of chi-chi restaurants in the vicinity by offering good food with earnest intent at reasonable prices. The packed dining rooms at both lunch and dinner times bearing testament to this mantra. Give it a couple more weeks to iron out its issues and I'm sure you'll be in for a guaranteed treat with every visit.

54 Tras Street
Singapore 078993
Tel: 6438 7737

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