Tag Archives: Bar & Billiard Room

Sunday brunch at Raffles Bar and Billiard Room

Cream of asparagus soup with soft boiled eggs and freshly shaved black truffles

I think that today D, my brother in-law and I broke a record for continuous eating at brunch.  Four hours.  FOUR HOURS.  The food was just so well done and there were so many choices that it almost didn’t seem like enough time.  Add free flow Billecart-Salmon champagne, and those four hours became even more pleasurable.

The Sunday brunch is something that seems to be quite uniquely Singaporean (I am not entirely sure of this and happy to stand corrected as I think Sunday brunches should be enjoyed all over the world).  Essentially it is a buffet spread, usually in five star hotels, where there is free flow alcohol – usually champagne.

D and I have been to many over the years, with our previous staple the Mezza9 Sunday brunch at the Hyatt Hotel.  We’d been to the Bar and Billiard Room at the Raffles Hotel a few times now and it has clearly evolved to become our firm favourite.  It’s not cheap in comparison to other brunches (although as an FYI, we found out to our delight that Platinum AMEX card holders get a 25% discount, making it about the same price as others, so no excuses now), but the selection of food that is presented to you is just of a different class to anything we’ve experienced anywhere else.  And where we used to like the buzzy ambiance at Mezza9, today the penny finally dropped and we agreed that the much, much more relaxed atmosphere at the Bar & Billiard brunch means that you are able to take your time and really enjoy all the truly gourmet food that surrounds you.

You have the usual suspects – cold seafood to start with oysters and prawns and Maine lobster – all of which were good, but nothing you cannot find anywhere else.  For cold appetisers, there was an array of marinaded vegetables – antipasto-style, along with a caprese salad, duck rilette, smoked salmon, seared tuna nicoise, beef carpaccio (so thin you could barely pick up a slice from the plate without tearing it) – the list went on, but that’s what ended up on my plate.

Scraping the risotto from the parmesan wheel

From here our table split up and I went for what was my clearly my favourite station, where they were serving cream of asparagus soup, a parmesan risotto, and smoked salmon on potato rosti (served on top of a thin layer of crip potato rosti, with a swirl of creme fraiche and caviar atop blini).  The asparagus soup replaced what I remembered to be my favourite dish at the brunch, a rich lobster bisque, but chef Gagan Bhatnagar explained that he put asparagus on the menu as he was taking advantage of them while they were in season.  The soup starts with the chef slicing the top and bottom off a perfectly soft boiled egg, placing it on a dollop of creamy potato, carefully ladling the rich green soup around it, arranging two spears of asparagus on top, and then drizzling truffle oil and shaving fresh black truffles on top.  Just remembering it is making me smile !  D even used the asparagus as soldiers for dipping into the soft boiled egg yolk.

Parmesan risotto with freshly shaved black truffles

The risotto is freshly made – stock is added to pre-cooked risotto rice in a pan, cooked for a few minutes until the grains absorb the stock, to which is added a cube of butter, double cream, then at the last minute “acidic butter” and finely chopped chives are added (the chef explained to me that acid butter is butter that has had white wine vinegar mixed into it, and which, when added at the end of the risotto cooking process, helps to “lift” the dish).  The molten mix is then poured into a large wheel of parmesan cheese, from where the chef scrapes it and onto your plate.  They were also kind enough to shave fresh black truffles over my dish and presto – one of my favourite (and repeated) dishes.

Grilled scallop with Iberico ham

There was also a cured meat station, where they serve thinly sliced Iberico ham (which paired perfectly with seared scallops from the cold appetiser station), Serrano ham, Parma ham and bresaola with pickled onions and gherkins.

For warm meats there was a foie gras station – where they pan-fried the foie gras to order and then serve it on top of thin ribbons of apple, with a drizzle of passionfruit coulis, lamb – leg and herb crusted rack, pork knuckle, roasted duck breast, roasted Bresse chicken and two types of beef.  One was a tenderloin, which was lovely and tender but the winner for me was the beef rib – a much less lean piece of meat, but roasted so perfectly that the meat was meltingly tender and flavoursome, even without the Bordelaise sauce that was meant to accompany it.

Five textured chocolate

Desserts were many, varied, and interesting.  Not all of them were loved at our table (we pretty much tried everything between the three of us), but complete respect goes to the dessert chef who took a few risks and also designed delicate treats like five textured chocolate, panna cotta with fresh strawberry coulis with a sherberty meringue stick, creme brulee, a “modern twist” on blackforest cake, which was essentially a large rectangular log of rich chocolate mousse with marshmallow inside, a perfect sphere of chocolate filled with honeycomb froth and the winner at our table, a simple but superbly done bread and butter pudding with creme anglaise.

There was also a huge selection of pastas and cooked vegetables, as well as an impressive spread of cheeses.

Need I remind you that we got there when the brunch started, and left four hours later ?  Just do it.

Bar and Billiard Room and the Raffles Hotel Singapore
1 Beach Road
Tel: (65) 6412 1816
Brunch on Sundays 11.30am – 3.00pm


Ho Chi Minh in a few days…

Why isn’t there more good Vietnamese cuisine found outside of Vietnam ?  It’s so similar to the ubiquitous Thai but it is full of fresh herbs and uses a lot less sugar which surely must be better for you… ?

I digress from my rant to say that I was lucky enough to go to Ho Chi Minh City on a work trip where I managed to squeeze in some local food not served in a high-end restaurant and/or hotel.  Certainly not enough, but enough to satisfy my love of pho for a while, anyway.

We stayed at the Sheraton, which is smack bang in the tourist area of what is a relatively small city where on the 23rd floor there is a rooftop bar which boasts the “best view of the city” according to the Lonely Planet Guide.

Being on a work trip, we basically ate at and around the hotel, which wasn’t bad, for sure, but the surroundings were so high end that it lacked a lot of authenticity that I like to experience when I am travelling to new places.

During one of the activity sessions we had to scour the Ben Thanh market for trinkets and while my teammates were furiously trying to get the best deal in the shortest amount of time, I got to stare longingly at the little noodle stalls surrounding us where locals slurped.

We did get to eat at what isn’t authentically Vietnamese, but at strikingly beautiful Cham Charm, in District 7.  A restaurant/gallery devoted to Champa ancient arts and culture,  you dine buffet style surrounded by Champa artifacts and sculptural works, in a chilled ambiance, with perfect mood lighting and music piped throughout.

The dessert station at Cham Charm

The cuisine is what they call “world cuisine”,  what I would call Asian cuisine, as they serve a vast variety of specialty dishes from India, Thailand, Vietnam, China, Japan at different stations around the large restaurant.  There seemed to be a new section that someone from our group discovered each time they looked.  Food-wise, I wouldn’t say that it was bad, it’s just that it wasn’t great.  After eating at the likes of the Raffles Bar & Billiard Room Sunday buffet, my standards are pretty high, but for first impressions, the 30 minute ride out of the main part of Ho Chi Minh is worth it.

Cham Charm
02 Phan Van Chuong, Dist. 7
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
PHONE: (84-8) 5410 9999


Everybody loves a Sunday brunch

And everybody misses them after they’ve left Singapore.  Raffles Hotel’s Bar & Billiard Room was where we ended up last Sunday with a visiting ex-Singaporean resident, who now lives in Tokyo.  D and I had been there once before and were keen to go back again.  Although it lacks the ambiance Mezza9, which still remains a firm favourite with friends, but for food, I think Bar & Billiard Room at Raffles beats Mezza9 hands down.  You have a dizzying choice of incredible European cuisine to choose from –  it is a buffet but everything is so delicately laid out that you don’t feel it.  Small dishes are prepared freshly for you, for example the risotto, where a chef cooks a portion of risotto and then pours that in to a wheel of parmesan cheese, and then scrapes that all onto a plate for you.  You get to sample delicate scallops on freshly made rosti, and shavings of Iberican ham (which D and I went up for more than once !).  A chef will warm up a small cup of lobster bisque with crab meat.  Desserts are all delicate single servings.  You just don’t get the impression of hungry people descending en mass to the food.  If you fancy a wider selection of cuisine, then Raffles is not for you.  And at $200 per head, it’s a bit steep, but with freeflowing Billecart Salmon, it’s such a lovely indulgence on a Sunday.

Raffles Hotel Singapore
1 Beach Road
Tel: +65 6337 1886