Anyone who has ever spent any length of time in Milan or Hong Kong will eventually end up sipping a latte or nibbling a cake in Cova. Kitted out with warm lighting, lots of gold decorative accents and Old World charm, it’s always filled with socialites and suits – a client and design DNA shared by the new Singaporean outpost.
Sea bass and beef carpaccio at Cova.
Located at the rear of Paragon in the space formerly occupied by Dome, Cova splits its dining area into two: the larger space is in the mall’s ground floor foyer, while the more intimate interior shop – better lit and, frankly, more happening – holds the chocolate and cake cabinets filled with $182 boxes of bonbons, deliciously tiny tarts and inviting pastries. It was difficult to find fault with the food – even the creamy, luridly red beef carpaccio, and thin apple slices slathered with smoked salmon and ricotta, betrayed the care with which the kitchen has been trained.
At one dinner, thick diagonal cuts of veal were encased in a terrific, breadcrumbed shell, the meat’s earthiness cut with lemon and sprinkles of coarse sea salt, while fat pappardelle loops tangled with a rich duck ragù perfumed with sweet carrots and tomatoes. A few days later, an already very entertaining lunch that involved people-watching turned into something even better as I tucked into a moist sea bass, seared to just the right degree, resting on a sunny saffron broth of prawns and mussels, and pooling round a wilted-spinach bed.
The risotto, though heavenly with its thick cream and meaty mushrooms, suffered the indignity of being finished in five spoonfuls. At $25, the pitiful portion was a puzzling lapse. A waiter in a black waistcoat was dispatched to check with the kitchen. He returned with the sheepish explanation that this was the standard serving. ‘But for a main course, it’s tiny!’ I protested. ‘It’s 90g of rice,’ he answered, as if this explained everything. Desserts were generally quite wonderful – especially the crunch of the tiny cannoli piped with thick, fruit-speckled ricotta and the puffs filled with pistachio cream – though the much-ballyhooed Sachertorte
was a little dry, and there was very little hint of hazelnut in the gianduja cake.
Here’s a tip: don’t dine at Cova unless you like the idea of eating in an eerily empty mall, or you enjoy the sensation of being rushed off when the wait-staff start clearing away the table flowers and cutlery at 9pm. ‘We get the last orders at 9.30pm, but sometimes the chef would have left by then,’ said the waitress, when we asked if we could still be served if we came at that time. There were other service lapses: the waiters have a tendency to be busy looking elsewhere, oblivious to waving hands; and, on one occasion, we were glared at when we asked for the bill. This after I spied on the service computer a flashing instruction: ‘Greet customer with a smile!!!’ Someone didn’t get that memo.
See more Hot Tables
Find a restaurant and book online