As Queen Marie Antoinette supposedly once said upon learning that the peasants had no bread, I’d follow in her footsteps and say “Let them have buffet” to Singaporeans who simply cannot make up their mind for what to eat. It is no surprise how popular buffets have gotten on our sunny island, though I am amazed that we haven’t taken up the national sport of sumo wrestling with our increasing obesity rate.
One of the latest to rejoin the ranks of hotel restaurants offering buffets in Singapore is The Square, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay. Under the helm of Chef Jean-Philippe Couturier, formerly of Novotel Bali Benoa, the restaurant spread has been given a new lease of life with a major revamp of all the menus.
Aptly named ‘Flavours of the World with a Local Twist’, the international spread includes the chilled seafood section, hors d’oeuvres counter, salad section, hot food section, roasted meats station, ‘live’ cooking stations for both laksa and pasta of your choice, and last but not the least, quite an extensive dessert spread as well. Do look out for their big – and I mean that literally – featured dish that changes every night, ranging from giant wok of paella to whatever Chef Couturier fancies.
It’s the local dishes that are easiest to go wrong under a foreign chef, but the Laksa that I had hit all the right notes. The starchy yellow noodles I chose had a good coating of the delicious laksa gravy, rich yet light enough to keep me wanting more. As someone who doesn’t take too much spicy foods, the gravy had a good amount of fiery spice for a light kick just suitable for my taste buds. If you prefer it stronger, simply inform the chef or top-up your own spices at the counter.
Another highlight of the buffet was the Seabass with Lemon Butter Dressing. While the exterior of the fish chunks was a smidgen dry, the lemon sauce managed to seep into the meat, adding another dimension to the flavour; a refreshing taste upon the fish’s freshness.
Of the roasted meats, I much fancied the Roasted Duck. While Saunders spent most of his time meticulously separating the fats from the meat, I readily indulged in the whole slices of roasted duck. Forget diet theories, I like my meat with a bit of fat, and the meat I savoured had just the right balance of flavour and sin.
I am quite a big fan of desserts, so I was pleased by the variety The Square offered – cakes, shooters, a chocolate fountain station and even Durian Pengat. While the rich durian mousse mix, similar to that of the famed version at Ellenborough Market Café but ends off on a sweeter note, it was the Lychee Mousse Cake that stole my heart. Surprisingly light and zesty, it almost made me feel like I was a little boy again, and being served a birthday cake.
Those who prefer a lighter lunch can take a look at the new ala carte menu. The Seafood Risotto ($22), a well-executed risotto with a rich tomato sauce and hint of basil, is one of the highlights. While Saunders felt the chef was a bit heavy-handed with the Parmesan cheese, I enjoyed how it rounded up the different flavours.
The Poached Cod Fillet ($34) maybe a touch pricey, but was worth every penny – and every drop of gravy. Cooked in the same rich laksa gravy as previously mentioned, the spicy coconut milk and prawn broth accentuates the silky cod’s natural sweetness, and is complemented by a bowl of aromatic chicken rice.
With undergoing plans for a full revamp of the hotel – they’ve even got iMacs for use at the hotel lobby – Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay is one to watch for.
PS. The view from the premier suite lounge is fabulous!
177A River Valley Road
Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay, Level 7
Tel: +65 6433 8790 | Website
Breakfast: 6am – 10.30am (Daily)
Lunch: 12noon – 2.30pm (Daily)
Dinner: 6pm – 10pm (Daily)
All-day ala carte service