Consider the hotel continental buffet: there are usually promises of indulgence with heaping mounds of food, and a wide variety of cuisines. There’s the idea that you should get your money’s worth, and they do this with gleaming hunks of meat sitting under heat lamps, and stacks of cold seafood laid out on ice. Sometimes though, quality is sacrificed for the sake of quantity. One Ninety though does away all that in favor of a more subdued, intimate experience. Lunch sees a semi-buffet, with a restrained selection of modern-ish European dishes for you to pick at: smoked burrata; tuna tartare; and desserts like Paris brest and even local kuehs — all prepared with attention to detail. One of best parts of the meal though, happens at your table: freshly baked sourdough (made with a blend of flour that they custom-milled, no less) with butter and chive oil arrives warm, crusty, and worthy of some of the best fine dining restaurants out there. Off the a la carte menu, newly-appointed Kamarl John presents a selection of Asian-inflected “provencal cuisine”. Dishes are beautifully garnished, and showcase a lighter, more modern touch. There is crispy-skinned, moist snapper in a lemongrass-infused bouillabaisse; avocado salad with a mountain of spicy, bright micro-cresses and miso dressing; and intriguing snacks like lobster and prawn toast with spicy tobiko mayo.
Four Seasons Hotel Singapore, 190 Orchard Blvd. Tel: 6831 7250
Once Cheek by Jowl, now just Cheek. The latest incarnation of chef Rishi Naleendra’s buzzy Modern Australian joint has transformed into a slightly more casual bistro concept with an a la carte menu. While most of the dishes on the menu are new — save his signature oysters with smoked tomato granita — the food still feels strongly familiar. Like the old menu, you can expect plenty of acidity, umami, fresh flavours and old-round solid unpretentious cooking. Highlights include burrata with heirloom tomatoes, fermented green chilli sauce, and crispy onions; as well as waffles with a silky-smooth, classic chicken liver parfait. Naleendra has always had a gift for reining in strong, punchy flavours so keep them light, and it shows still in the new dishes like his superbly tasty beef tartare with smoked maple butter and puffed millet, to be scooped up with wedges of crisp endive like bo ssam. Large plates include Iberico pork chop, very simply grilled and served with apple puree, white turnip, and smoky, almost-meaty charred cavolo nero.
Don’t be deceived by the condominium-sounding name, 51 Soho is an all-day dining concept with an Asian and Sichuan slant. While breakfast here proves more straightforward with overnight oats and croissant with ham, cheese, and scrambled eggs; lunch and dinner is where you see the Asian influence creep in. Lunch offers grain bowls with proteins that range from smoked duck breast to pan-roasted lobster; while roughage comes in the form of items like baked curry cauliflower and miso-maple sweet potatoes. Dinner is where things get interesting — while the menu reads like your typical trendy bistro, the flavours are anything but. “Salmon and pearl” comes with almost meltingly-tender fish, crispy skin, and an intensely moreish pearl couscous cooked in tangy pickled vegetable broth; while broccoli slaw comes seasoned with spring onion pesto and green Sichuan pepper oil. Look out for the skewers here, which are refined versions of the typical mainland-Chinese chuan shops found lining the streets of Chinatown: succulent pieces of pork belly, duck gizzard, and even halloumi-stuffed padron peppers all grilled over a charcoal fire and dusted with a significantly more balanced version of the cumin-chilli spice mix ubiquitous to chuan shops.