24 Feb 2008 • 146 reviews • 15 followers
I wonder if the British gentleman who founded this island back in 1819 would be turning with indignance in his loamy resting ground if he found out today that the expensive restaurant christened after his legacy namesake in an expensive hotel which also follows suit by name, serves French food instead of English.
Lame whimsical jokes aside, with the way things actually are, anything Raffles is an excuse for providence that is accompanied with a hefty price tag. Raffles Hotel, Raffles class....erm Raffles Institution? I meant Raffles Grill (Raffles Hotel, 1 Beach Road) which is located directly across the Tiffin Room in the lobby of the hotel. One of the remnants of old fashioned classy restaurants locally, whereby attire to dine is observed in a slightly more strict manner than most other places and waiters are truly trained to be waiters and that there actually is a living human on the piano that you hear in the backdrop of the restaurant. The exuding scent in the air is both floral, and colonial.
This dinner for tonight is the Tour De France Menu Dégustation. And it begins with a complimentary snack of what I think to be a fresh warm crab roll and potato ball in a berry compote I think. I don't really recall the elaborate name of this starter, but I remember the mentioning of the word 'mushroom' which I didn't taste and I'm fairly positive that what's in the crispy rolls is either shredded crab or lobster. And the gnocchi like thing in the little glasses taste like an expensive potato ball of sorts. Back me up here Chris.
The actual course of the dinner starts with an amuse bouche that is not named. It is essentially a light tasting and frothy mushroom based cream broth topped with finely sliced and fried potatoes, underneath which hides four little gnocchi-lets and of which, two taste of liquorice infusion.
Following the tongue teaser comes the starter of the menu which is a gratinated Marroilles cheese tartlet topped with scallops and summer truffle. This I must say is quite the pleasant pastry which is of the light fluffy variety that retains enough buttery flavor to be savored alongside the scallops. I honestly do not remember any cheese in this stuff. Each composite layer of this starter is individually and identifiably subtle. And I know you have no freakin clue what that means because that's how it feels upon taste. That's the only way I can summarise the flavor that sounds about right. I couldn't identify the drizzle of yellow sauce, but it tasted quite good and I suspect it might be butternut pumpkin.
After the scallops comes the Topinambourg Velouté with chestnut puree and roasted Cepe mushrooms. Stripped from the glamor, this taste like a good cream of mushroom. Again, these are topped with the tiny fried potato like slices. The interesting elements to this cream of mushroom is that it comes drizzled again, with a certain oil which I cannot identify but adds an almost sublime fragrance. The roasted mushrooms here are really only lightly roasted and apart from being quite fragrant, doesn't possess any other trait of extraordinary remark. What I thought was the best feature of this veloute is the excellent chestnut puree resting at the bottom, sweet and creamy and taste very much like the chinese yam paste dessert (orh nee anyone?). Creates a conspicuous yet somehow complimentary contrast to the saltiness on the rest of the dish.
Which brings us to the fish of the menu, the confit of Omble Knight in clarified Lavender butter , braised fennel with pastis and thyme. Omble Knight is a fish from the family of salmon and in terms of appearance and taste on the plate, passes off easily as salmon. Again, it is the accompaniement of the Lavender butter which makes the dish shine. Very excellent and light milky fragrance and as I recall, tasting of a vegetable that I cannot remember, but certainly, not Lavender. I wonder at the directions of the ingredients. Pastis as I found is actually a anise based liquer aperitif and fennel is one of the ingredients of absinthe. The liquorice bend to this dish didn't elude me although the taste spoke none of it. With the lack of fennel seeds, I would guess that it was the bulb that I ate instead of some other exotic and sweet onion-like tasting plantlife which tasted quite good.
Fish is followed by the main of the menu that features a stuffed cabbage with summer truffle, braised farmer sausages with potato. This makes me think, how do chefs exactly decide on what to name their creations. I'm inclined to think that it's on a whim or seriously, whatever they feel like. And I think I'm right since this dish doesn't have a name that really describes the better part of it which is really a thin layer of pork fat that wraps around minced duck before being stuffed into the cabbage and getting braised like xiao long bao which causes the fat layer to melt and infuse into the stuffings. That was quite good. The other outstanding item in this dish is the "potato" which comes like a mini rosti of sorts. Mini in size, mini in composite as the strands that make up the potato cake is very fine as well. Sounds like tedious effort involved especially when there is also sweet sauteed onions woven into the middle of the potato. This is probably the best potato cakes I've had. Sausages are not bad and supposedly home made. I wonder where is home here.
A pre dessert follows. This is a rolled chocolate sheet in a glass of three different layers of pudding. An orange mousse with a invigorating citrus flavor, a berry jelly or sorts and vanilla tasting pudding at the bottom. Progressive sweetness in the works.
The closing note for the degustation menu is the dessert of roasted and poached figs in red wine, orange and Sauternes granitee. Apart from the poached figs which are actually quite tasty, I really cannot relate the name of the dessert to the actual item. Having the poached figs on the buttery cookie base was a very simple and effective move. Essentially, a pastry effect in taste has been created.
Dinner at Raffles Grill tends to be a affaire très chère. The ambience is great if you're not looking for excitement, enjoy taking time with your dinner and you're eating with people that are not boring. In the midst of the elaboration, dinner was good, but really not so extraordinary.pics and original writeup