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The Knolls at Capella Singapore

All new Mediterranean menu offers healthier choices with rich flavours. There are few things in life, and we say this with the utmost seriousness, that rival that of the experience of dining with the most spectacular views. Wallet strings are looser, and palates are a lot more forgiving too -- why do you think some restaurants at prime spots get away with charging exorbitant prices for mediocre fare?

Despite its location at the ultra-luxurious beachfront hotel Capella Singapore, in-house restaurant The Knolls has recently reigned in on the price front, presenting an all-new Mediterranean menu inspired by its beachside settings.

What is it: The Knolls has always been more well-known for its popular teatime sets, and the launch of its latest menu that sees dashes of Mediterranean influences, is set to ride on the popularity of its teatime offering. And in true Mediterranean style, the menu places much importance on healthier choices, and is even thoughtfully segmented into "Hearty Selections for Gentlemen" (healthy dishes that are still rich and flavoursome) as well as "On the Lighter Side for Ladies" (light, low-carbohydrate salads, soups and menu items).

The look: And what's a Mediterranean menu without a view and ambience to match? The modern interior of The Knolls is lit up in warm hues of a Mediterranean colour palette, and from the soft natural light that streams in through the full-length glass windows. The restaurant is also partitioned into semi-private areas for a more intimate dining experience.

We would totally opt to dine indoors, but al fresco dining is the far more superior choice, what with the restaurant blessed with an enchanting view of the hotel's glittering swimming pools which in turn, overlook the South China Sea -- the view is downright breathtaking by dusk, and with the swaying trees and chilly sea breeze, you'd be forgiven for thinking you're at a luxury resort at the Maldives. If you're lucky, the occasional tame peacock saunters by in all of its colourful glory and peeks at your food curiously -- don't worry, they don't bite.

PR speak: The intriguing menu is the brainchild of executive chef Jakob Esko and sous chef Cristia Nou Picart, both of whom have accumulated vast amounts of culinary experience in Mediterranean cuisine. “A lot of research and hard work was poured into this menu," says Esko.

"We wanted to create a menu that was not only authentic but also presented our guests with dining options that complemented their lifestyles and preferences. Only the freshest and best ingredients are used to create our dishes, ensuring that every mouthful is as refreshing and as delectable as the last."

Must-try: The pan-seared sea bass with black truffle risotto and baby vegetables (S$34) is one of signatures off the ladies' menu, and according to our very enthusiastic hostess, the black truffle risotto is "to die for". A bold statement to make, but as we soon realised, not without reason at all.

The sea bass, though perfectly cooked with a crackling skin and tender meat, comes almost as a second thought after the brilliant truffle risotto, every mouthful bursting with the earthy aroma of truffle and savoury parmesan shavings. Its equivalent on the gentlemen's menu, the slow cooked beef cheek (S$38), in contrast, pales in comparison, coming across just a tad bland. The consistency of the meat however, is perfect.

The churros, or deep-fried Spanish-style doughnuts (S$14) comes accompanied by homemade chocolate sauce, lemon cream and whipped cream and is a delicious, if sinful, treat at the end of the meal. The chocolate sauce is the favourite dip, but it's the tangy lemon cream that provides delicious contrast with the sweet and salty doughnuts.

Verdict: As with many new menus, The Knolls' Mediterranean menu presents a few hits and misses, but the excellent service and amazing ambience makes up for it. And given its spectacular location, menu prices have also proved to be rather reasonable in comparison to other similar restaurants.

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