Review: Weekend lunch at Butcher’s Block at Raffles Singapore – Scrumptious luncheoning in well-heeled company.


The grand dame of Singapore and the city’s most iconic and historic hotel property, Raffles Singapore is a colonial-era gem that dazzles in full white and terracotta splendour on the acclaimed shopping strip that is Orchard Road. A designated National Monument, its hallowed halls, swanky shops, stately suites and old world charm are a draw to both locals and tourists alike. Then there are its wine and dine establishments, which are in a class of their own.

There is the Tiffin Room, a fancy continental breakfast eatery by day and Indian restaurant by night, that has been a part of Raffles’ history since 1892. La Dame de Pic, an offshoot of the three-Michelin-starred eatery by French chef — some say the best female chef in the world — Anne-Sophie Pic. The Writers Bar, whose menu is consistently inspired by writers-in-residence and makes tribute to renowned authors. And Butcher’s Block, an elegant specialty meat restaurant, where I was invited to dine at one weekend in July.

Chef de cuisine Remy Lefebvre — full sleeves included — preparing a tostada

The Story
Adorned in wall-to-wall dark wood panelling and tabletops, brass furnishings, plush off-white chairs and cobalt blue walls, Butcher’s Block is one of those rarefied spaces where you can dress up or smart chic down and not feel out of place. The ambience is cosy — an underrated quality, in my opinion — and inviting, sexy yet subtle. Like a go-to restaurant that you can frequent easily, with the knowledge that service and standard will always grace your expectations.

Chef de cuisine Remy Lefebvre flanked by his wood fire and Josper ovens

Seating 44 diners, the open-plan layout melds with the open kitchen concept, where guests can glance over at Chef de cuisine Remy Lefebvre stoking the wood fire — his preferred method of cooking — while ageing, fermenting and slicing dishes off his menu. Inspired by culinary experiences spanning almost 20 years across locales like the Grand Cayman, Spain and Qatar, Chef Remy’s background is as eclectic as the colours and combinations that feature in the foods he serves up.

The Food and Drinks
Up till recently, Chef Remy only plated dinners but has now added a weekend lunch menu to the establishment’s offering. A succinct line-up of starters, tostadas and pizza, we started with both entrées: Coconut Ceviche & Seafood, and Tomato & Mozzarella. Inspired by Peruvian chef and ambassador of Peruvian cuisine, Gaston Acurio’s “El ceviche del amor” signature dish, the former had just the right amount of spice and tang, featuring Mexican aguachile and fish on a bed of charcoal grilled tortilla. The latter boasted organic heirloom tomatoes sourced from Malaysia, with a perfect combination of sweet and sour flavours that burst in my mouth to juicy delight.

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Coconut Ceviche & Seafood and Tomato & Mozzarella with a side of hot tortilla chips

Next were the Shrimps & Cholula and Tuna & Chipotle Mayo tostadas. Served on fried corn tortillas and topped with fuchsia pink and tangerine-coloured flowers, the shrimp and tuna were fresh; the wholesome toppings perfectly adequate. There’s just something about the right mix of textures and flavours in every bite that chefs worth their salt strive for.

Shrimps & Cholula and Tuna & Chipotle Mayo tostadas with lime

Then came the main events: a choice ‘Nduja pick and the restaurant’s signature Truffata & Burrata pizza. I’m a big fan of nduja so this was a guaranteed thumbs up in my book. Even the gluten-free crust, which I normally eschew when indulging in Italian fare, couldn’t take away from the delectable mouthfuls of spicy sausage. Generous dollops of fior di latte mozzarella on each slice were also wonderfully welcome. But the accompanying Australian black truffles that mingled with burratina and fior di latte mozzarella on the other pie was a sight — and taste — to behold. One order simply wasn’t enough.

Truffata & Burrata pizza with a gluten-free crust

The ‘Nduja pizza featuring dollops of fior di latte mozzarella

Finally, we freshened up with sorbets — passionfruit for me — and hot drinks. Made with fresh fruit purees, I savoured every nibble. I was replete.

Cute globs of passionfruit sorbet

A total of four wines were tasted over the course of the meal at curated points on our dining journey, courtesy of in-house sommelier, Faizal Zainudin. All exclusive to the weekend lunch menu, there were two natural wines — a 2018 Blind Corner pét-nat and 2018 Kindeli Primavera — as well as a 2018 Katogi Averoff Inima white wine, and a 2018 Clos des Fées Les Sorcières.

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The Hospitality
Attentive and professional. The only drawback was that it was hard to hear the servers who donned their Raffles Singapore-emblemed masks (currently a mandatory policy in Singapore). Through no fault of their own, of course. The service receives full marks.

View of the open-plan dining layout from the kitchen

Location
On the second floor at the recently revamped Raffles Arcade, flanked by unique retail and lifestyle experiences. The whole annex practically speaks to our suppressed penchant for leisurely meandering in and out of shops, window shopping and the like. As with everywhere you travel on the compound, the double-door entrance overlooks one of the many lush garden courtyards.

For Your Consideration
Only walk-ins are available for the lunch seating. If you’d like to sit away from fellow diners, there are two private dining rooms tucked away in the corners of the restaurant. Just note that you won’t have views of the open kitchen.

The curio Le Verre de Vin pod bar

The Noteworthy
The Library, an exposed wine cellar with over 200 bottled labels that take up one wall of the restaurant and is the backdrop to a wide high-top table. If you have a group big enough, the spot affords a vantage point, prime and centre. Sitting opposite the cellar is a Le Verre de Vin pod bar, a high-tech laboratory-looking cooler station that piqued my curiosity.

The Library houses over 200 wine labels and spans one entire wall breadth of Butcher’s Block

There’s also The Vault, a floor-to-ceiling glass cooler that displays fine meat cuts as soon as you step into the establishment.

The Vault at the entrance of Butcher’s Block

The Summary
Ideal for long weekend lunches with family and friends, the food and fanfare (there’s a certain expectation going in when you’re dining at Raffles Singapore) meets the mark. The considered price points are not what you’d expect — and I mean that in a good way. Bring your appetites and smart footwear. I’m returning for a steak next time.

Where: #02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd, Singapore 188719
Phone: +65 6337 1886

Staff
On pointe and polite

Food & Drinks
Innovative

The luxe factor is:

8 Location
10 Service
8 Dining
8.7