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