Raffles Hotel Le Royal is famed for putting on an exquisite show – it is after all an iconic luxury hotel. So, it comes as no surprise that its Sunday brunch is an extravaganza fit for royalty. Marissa Carruthers spent a lazy Sunday afternoon grazing on its 18-course gueridon brunch offering.
Like a soldier headed into battle, I prepared well for Raffles’ Sunday brunch. I sensibly skipped breakfast and made sure the skirt I was wearing had an elastic waist with enough stretch to take the hit of 18 courses of fine food. Check and check.
Raffles recently changed the way it delivers its renowned Sunday brunch. The previous upmarket buffet-style offering has been replaced with an 18-course spread – it certainly helps to slash the food waste buffets are synonymous with.
What’s the deal?
While you definitely need to save space, in true Raffles’ style, this is fine dining. This means 18 well-plated dishes of small proportions – a great way to sample an assortment of food that perhaps you wouldn’t usually dine on.
The menu is seafood heavy. So, if you don’t like juicy giant prawns, melt-in-the-mouth salmon, Mekong lobster, pan-seared scallops, oysters and everything in between, firstly, unless you have allergies, what’s wrong with you? Secondly, this may not be the menu for you.
There’s also the option to pair up your food with hand-selected red and white wines or bubbles in the form of Henriot Brut Souverain Champagne to truly elevate the occasion. And if you happen to visit during the first Sunday of the month, your meal will be accompanied by the soothing sounds of a live pianist.
What’s on the menu?
First up was a selection of various freshly-baked breads served with salted butter and a tangy salsa. This was followed with a caviar sturia spoon, comprising salmon roe, sour cream, white toast and a blini, which paired perfectly with a glass of champagne.
In line with the gueridon service theme – for those who don’t know, this refers to tableside cooking – next up was the seafood trolley. Two chefs wheeled out a live cooking station and I was given an option of smoked or cured fish. I opted for cured salmon that was so soft it melted in my mouth. This was served alongside freshly-baked waffles.
Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty – and perhaps don’t wear white – because the next course was an impressive seafood platter. This comprised plump Fines de Claire oysters, meaty lobster claws perfect for cracking, and some of the largest and juiciest river prawns I’ve seen in my life, all served with Koh Kong chilli sauce shallot vinegar and garlic mayonnaise.
The next course also involved tableside service with a tartar live trolley. Because you can never have enough salmon in your life, I once again chose salmon, which was mixed with the perfect blend of lime and herbs to make it refreshing – almost serving as a palate cleanser for the marathon that lay ahead.
A small Caesar salad, also whipped up tableside, followed, with the rich and creamy sauce standing out. The next course saw us steer away from seafood and move into the meat arena, with artisan cured calved meats served alongside homemade pickles.
A flavoursome and equally tasty seafood soup was next on Raffles’ Sunday brunch menu. This comprised succulent chunks of prawn and mushrooms in a balanced sweet and sour broth.
Bringing fire to the table
While I skipped course nine, which was eggs of the day – I don’t like eggs; I know, I know – and course 10’s foie gras trolley – through personal choice – the eleventh course was a true feast for the senses. Here, tender Hokkaido scallops are flambeed at the table with plumes of flames serving as the sizzling pièce de résistance.
More tableside service followed with the sea catches trolley. Lucky me that the catch of the day was salmon, which was seared at the table and served alongside a delightfully sweet pumpkin puree and tangy salsa.
Despite my stomach severely swelling, I pressed on with the final courses. The butcher’s cart was next, with juicy, tender and flavoursome slices of roast beef carved in front of me. I, for one, am unable to turn down a good cheese platter, which was next.
As we neared the end of a divine afternoon lazily grazing on fine food and sipping great wines, a refreshing lime sorbet was more than welcome. And enabled me to sample the assortment of pastries that followed before a post-dinner digestive in the form of an espresso.
Satisfactorily stuffed, I rolled out of Raffles and went home to fall into a cozy food coma and take a well-earned, late-afternoon cat nap.