First birthday celebration of the year was in January. Our dear Zen turned another year older and so, we decided to make a meal of it. He chose Bar Cicheti, and so, Bar Cicheti it was for dinner.
Lighting is dim within the restaurant, so the setting was very intimate. The five of us were gathered around two small tables which were only just big enough to contain the plates of food we’d ordered to share.
To begin, we had Buratina served with Greek olive oil, sea salt, burnt onion jam and grilled sourdough.
Creamy burrata with toasty bread, enough to sop up the oily deliciousness sitting below the cheese once it was polished off.
We also ordered Grilled Octopus with Chickpeas and Salsa Verde which is off the menu.
Sweet, tender, lightly charred octopus, with earthy chickpeas and punchy salsa. Our only complaint was that we cleaned the plate up too quickly.
Moving onto the mains, we ordered large plates of everything since we were to share.
We had Agnolotti featuring 10 hour braised beef cheeks, fondo bruno, and parmigiana. Fondo bruno refers to a stock made through roasting veal bones before adding it to a pot of water and vegetables.
These little parcels packed punches of flavour beginning first with the hit of savoury, rich beefiness and mellowing out to the deep nuttiness of the cheese.
The Pici Cacio e Pepe used Sawarak black pepper and parmigiana instead of the traditional pecorino.
The tubular pasta had a nice bite and soaked up the creamy, cheesy sauce well. The spice from the pepper helped cut the richness but I’d say that this is truly a dish for cheese lovers. While very tasty, a few mouthfuls were enough for me. A whole plate to myself would have been too cloying.
Taglioni Nero with Hokkaido scallops, Indonesian squid, Japanese uni and a bisque reduction. This was my favourite of the lot not only because it was peppered generously with seafood!
I liked the bounce of the taglioni, giving it a different texture to the other two pasta above. There was less resistance to the pasta and less chew, but not NOT al-dente. This was a lot lighter on the palate and had a lovely sweetness from the crustacean. This being said, I think all of us at the table had different ‘favourites’. Florian for one, was not as partial to this dish compared to the agnolotti for example.
We saved enough room for dessert since portions were not particularly big. We didn’t expect it but Bar Cicheti sweetly served a complimentary Bittersweet Chocolate Budino Torte.
The torte was rich and bitter, closer to a ganache than a mousse, and certainly a dessert that will do well in satiating the rest of your appetite if you have some left post-mains. The fruity olive oil drizzled over added sweetness and I liked the crispy puffed rice that lent texture to the torte.
My favourite was this gorgeous slice of Fig Frangipane Tart served with a vanilla bean ice-cream.
The tart alone would have satisfied me, the ice-cream was a bonus. Together, the temperature and textural contrast created a medley I found especially alluring.
Florian loved the Tiramisu which was well soaked in bold, boozy coffee syrup and layered with a thick, fluffy mascarpone cream.
Altogether, a wonderful meal once again made more exceptional by the company we were with. I’d say that the food at Bar Cicheti is well executed but prices are a little on the high side for the portions served. On the flip side, their desserts are quite generously portioned and I must encourage you to ensure you have enough room for their sweets.
I still remember the first year we celebrated Zen’s birthday. It wasn’t a particularly big celebration but we had a get-together at Fynn’s (now Caffe Cicheti). This was his third birthday with all of us. Florian and I are blessed that our paths crossed with Zen’s through Lesley, and it’s amazing how much our friendship has grown since we first started hanging out. From mere acquaintances, he’s now family. I expect many more years of birthdays together, of eating good food and drinking good wine (water for me lol) together. Words cannot express how precious Zen has become to us! ❤