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02/03 Saturday 11:53AM

the bold and the beautiful

text . Pauline Chan .

Beautiful is what Bello serves - beautiful food, beautiful ambience and beautiful dining moments.  The concept for the cafe came from the name itself, which means 'beautiful' in Italian, and it provided the inspiration for the bold and creative choices made by the owner to achieve her cafe dream.

From the outside, the cafe looks sleek and attractive, but one should not linger outside for too long because the inside promises much more than the eyes can hold.  Inside, it is cosy and loungey and desirable to the point that we want to check in for a weekend, unpack our bags, relax and tuck in when the food arrives. As our party sat in the cafe one evening, appreciating the softly lit surroundings and light samba tunes that floated into our ears, we gradually melted into our seats, quietly thankful for the comfortable chairs.

What else can a diner-of-cafe-cuisine expect from Bello? You open the menu and it speaks of Western and Asian content. Their signature local favourites like Nasi Lemak, Beef Rendang and Beef Soto jostle for attention with the opulent Swiss burger, Prawn Cheese Melts and Chocolate Lava Pudding. The Bello-designed Black Galaxy and Iced Jellofee thirst-quenchers vie for a place on your table with healthy Vitamin-C shots and smoothies and ice-blends made from fruit puree instead of artificial coloured-flavourings.

We had the inside story that premium halal beef is used to make their beef dishes like burgers, rendang and soto. That explains the juicy, tender textures. Beef marrow bones are used to make the rich beef stock for the soto. They also make their own special sambal chili, salad dressings and pandan rice, bringing the homemade touch and flavours to the necessary accompaniments to the main dishes. Quality of ingredients is paramount at Bello. Fine gourmet cheeses and fresh herbs and spices are used to ensure better flavours and more exciting textures. A lot of research, trial and error experiments, and contemplation have gone onto the selection of the Bello Western fare. A contingent of recipes from the owner's pockets, family, friends and the internet were tried and tested, some discarded and the ones retained, were given a slight twist and adjustment to make it a Bello speciality. After all who owns a particular dish? Even celebrity chefs post their recipes online for the world to try, enjoy and make it our own.

Bello has a way of wrapping you up in a warm and fluffy way. Once all cosy and contented, one notices that every element in the cafe - from lamp shades to cushions, cutlery to teacups, font size on the menu to the neat aprons donned by the attendants - have been meticulously meditated on. Little tales of pride suggests that the owner's family was very much involved in the design process. Her ten-year old son, Ryan, helped to create the Nutty Shake and the Choconanaberry shake. (Try saying the second one 3 times very fast.)

And how did we end our evening before we checked out of Bello?  A Chocolate Lava Pudding with a scoop of Bulla vanilla ice cream - the piping hot liquid chocolate and ice-cold ice cream, swirled into an abstract art of ebony and ivory - it was bold. And beautiful.

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