Story and photos by Dr. Michael Lim The Travelling Gourmet TM
Copyright all rights reserved
The audacious and debonair Travelling Gourmet TM goes to La Grande Dame…
MAJESTIC Raffles, and finds many delights…The Raffles officially re-opened on 1 August 2019, after the very expensive makeover of this historic hotel in sunny Singapore. Raffles was named after the founder of Singapore, Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles. I was privileged to be brought on a VIP Tour…
Historically, the Sarkies brothers came to Asia from Isfahan in Persia (now Iran). In 1887, Tigran Sarkies opened the Raffles while his brother, Aviet, went to Rangoon (now Yangon)in Burma (now Myanmar) to open the Sarkies Hotel in 1892. In 1901, Aviet opened The Strand. I visited The Strand recently; the General Manager is my good friend.
Raffles Hotel’s familiar Main Building opened with great fanfare on 18 November, 1899. Another landmark year was 1915 when A. Dietz composed ” The Raffles March” and dedicated the song to Tigran Sarkies. 1915 was also the year when the iconic Singapore Sling was created by Hainanese Bartender Ngiam Tong Boon. He also created the Million Dollar Cocktail.
In March 1989, the old Raffles was demolished. Following a titanic renovation, Raffles was reopened on 16 September 1991. IN 2017, the 130th Anniversary, Raffles closed for another gigantic renovation and restoration! On August 1, 2019, the reborn Raffles officially opened.
La Dame Pic
What used to be the Raffles Grill is now a joint venture with my friend 3 Michelin Star Chef Anne-Sophie Pic. It is called “La Dame Pic” and serves haute cuisine. The Writer’s Bar has been enlarged and now has a dedicated selection of fine SCotch Whiskys. I also went to see the Long Bar at its previous location. I liked the motorised rattan fans on the ceiling. The bags of peanuts are still there and custom has it that you can litter the floor with the husks for good luck. Here in the Long Bar, the best sellers are the renowned Singapore Sling and also the Million Dollar Cocktail.
The Grand Lobby
To the left of the Grand Lobby, I went to take a peek at the Tiffin Room where I would later have lunch. Talking a walk to the Raffles Arcade, I toured the new Raffles Boutique and Gift Shop that has a mural depicting the history of the hotel. Lots of souvenirs from wearable T-shirts to magnets and Kaya Jam abound.
From the Grand Lobby, I climbed 36 steps up the curving staircase to level 2 to begin my tour. I saw the new Fitness Centre and Gym and also the enlarged swimming pool on level 3. The pool is now 20 m long and you can have an al fresco breakfast there in the morning.
I had a look at the luxurious Palm Court Suite 318 with its four poster bed, big bathtub and minibar in a chest of drawers. The suite faces the Palm Court.
BBR by Alain Ducasse
The Bar and Billiard Room is now renamed BBR by Alain Ducasse and serves mainly Meditteranean cuisine with many Spanish dishes and Tapas for sharing. This is another joint venture with Raffles. The friendly French Chef Louis Pacquelin is from the South of France.
The Travelling Gourmet TM dines like a Maharajah in...The Tiffin Room
I was happy to see my cheerful friend, Kuldeep Negi, who is the Chef de Cuisine of The Tiffin Room. The mainly North Indian cusine with some South Indian cusine from Kerala is very tasty and yummie!
North Indian cuisine is the food of Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab, Lucknow, just to name a few. The cuisine is characterised by the generous used of fragant spices like Cardamom, Cloves, Fennel, Turmeric, Cumin, Ginger and more. A big collection of Tiffin carriers decorate the brightly lit restaurant while wooden floorboards bring back the nostalgia of bygone days. Almond shaped chandeliers dangle from the high ceiling. There is an Appetiser Section with Indian style salads like PAP – not the political party, but Prawn and Pumpkin, Ha! Ha! Spicy Punjabi Style Chana (Chickpea) Salad, Onions, Kerala Style Prawns and Cooconut are other delectables. There are also lovely Chutneys and Pickles like Mango, Date and Tamarind, Mint and more. I especially like the Gooseberry I tucked in with gusto into goodies like Nalli Roganjosh. This macho and aromatic dish boasts lamb shank caressed with dried red chilli paste and Kashmiri Indian spices. SAS -Sweet And Sour Mango Chutney, goes well with this, believe me. I also love Lucknowi Murgh Biryani with healthy Basmati rice from a gigantic copper pot. Boneless Masala Chicken Curry too is yummie. Then a Mera Dabba (my box in Hindi) tiffin box was brought to my table with succulent Tandoori Chicken sans skewer and…Cheese, Garlic and Plain Naan (Indian bread). The Naans are de rigeur for dipping into the delicious sauces and curries. Savouring the food, mais oui, I felt like a Maharajah, wahahah! I had a wine made in India by my friends, the Secci fratelli (brothers) of Masi winery in Italy, whose winery I have toured. Aptly named Fratelli, the light palate-friendly wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay.
Sweets for the Sweet!
Indian Desserts are usually very sweet! A delight for thse with a sweet tooth! A variation of the classic Gulab Jamun Balls (which are milk dumplings) is that they are laced with Bittersweet Chocolate and delicate Saffron. Tropical fruits like Melon, Pineapple, Dragonfruit and more are also on the Dessert table. I always like Mango Kulfi which is Indian Ice Cream.
1 Beach Road
Hours: 12pm to 2pm daily for Lunch
6.30pm to 10pm daily for Dinner