SINGAPORE — "Zat, can you recommend me a hotel restaurant for my wedding anniversary?" says absolutely no one ever. It's unfortunate that when it comes to special occasions, reputable hotel dining establishments often get the short end of the stick. But can we blame consumers for the oversight, especially when hotels itself seem to have thrown in the towel and resigned themselves to a lifetime of excess-driven all-day buffets? I, for one, have zero love for buffets in all of its iterations because I know the stingy diner in me will overeat simply to get his money's worth. And I'm quite sure the Singaporean love affair with buffets will never abate because we're a nation of citizens obsessed with value for money.
Hopefully, Tablescape changes all that. It is helmed by new executive chef Armando Aristarco and housed within the confines of a heritage hotel, Grand Park City Hall. A short elevator ride brings you to a curated space that's shaded, moody, and sophisticated on your walk in before opening up to a dining room that is streaming with beautiful diffused light every which way you look, making it seem like the upholstery is shimmering in its presence. Teal, pink, and brown rule the roost here—an aesthetic plucked straight out of the Scandi-Mod playbook.
But Scandi-Mod the food is not.
It starts with a rotation of 14 types of bread baked in house and presented Guéridon style—that classic, unhurried table-side service where the server comes to you to explain the selection at hand. Starters look deceptively simple but belie an assembly that's dripping with sophistication. A round of raw 'Scallop' (S$20) is gaspingly fresh and an academically superior exercise in flavour balance. A bowl of luscious, creamy 62-degrees 'Egg' (S$28) is covered by a blanket of parmesan fondue and lies in wait beneath shavings of aromatic black summer truffle. Tender Black Angus 'Beef' Tataki (S$20) is arranged equidistant and served with dramatic foams of white pepper and pumpkin—both in its pureed and cubed form. I'm bowled over simply because all this drama does not in any way, detract from the brilliance of each plate.
As is vogue these days, the menu is produce-driven with pronouncements of the main ingredient followed by a set of ellipsis which I thought was completely unnecessary in a menu brimming with austere as Tablescape is. From this menu, I had 'Chicken' (S$28) featuring an organic baby chicken (from France, of course). It is tender and juicy—obvious tell-tale signs of a bird that has been brined, sous vide, and well-seasoned. The unexpected star of this dish, though, is the huge cake of baby romaine lettuce, dressed in a very bright, and beautifully acidic house-made Cardini dressing.
I wish the menu would describe the 'Risotto' (S$38) more enticingly—It is a dish well and genuinely deserving of effusive praise. It comes served in a matt black bowl, with a tightly closed lid. Behold: a quick lift of the cover reveals wisps of fragrant smoke that swiftly permeates the air. Flair, that's what this is. But it is allowed to be this exciting because it truly is a bowl of exquisitely cooked risotto—so incredibly creamy without the addition of cream, as I was told. Carnaroli rice is cooked in duck stock till pert and fluffy, served with slices of smoked duck breast, and gamey foie gras. 'Tis indeed the season to pair foie gras with anything your heart desires–not that I'm complaining.
Under 'Josper Grilled', is a list of luxurious sounding meats that are meant to trigger the carnivorous enthusiast. A Josper Grill is a kitchen invention that combines the function of an oven and a charcoal grill into one. The thick walls are designed to trap all that intense heat in so that you get meat that is perfectly cooked, down to the last Celsius, while retaining the smoky aroma we associate with an outdoor barbecue. What better meat to fully utilise the machine's capabilities than an Iberico Pork Chop (S$42)? Here, it is seasoned very simply because meat this moreish requires very little to impress. It comes with a generous scoop of unabashedly creamy and buttery golden Pomme Purée, and sautéed vegetables. Truly, it's not here to play. It's here to slay.
Desserts were equally riveting, especially when what I thought were ice cubes, turned out to be transparent Champagne Jelly sitting pretty with an assortment of colourful berries topped with mascarpone cheese, and garnished with slivers of candied orange peel. It Is day drinking done subtly and without nary a hint of guilt. Other notable selections include a glob-smackingly fluffy chocolate Soufflé (S$16) and a Coconut Raspberry Mousse that is simply layers of flavoured mousse topped with almond crumble and chocolate shards. It is a dessert presentation that is uncomplicated but brimming with deliciousness, a quality equally exemplified in their starters and main courses. I couldn't ask for more, even if I tried.
Level 3, 10 Coleman Street, Grand Park City Hall, S179809. +65 6432 5566
Lunch – 12.00pm to 2.30pm, Dinner – 6.00pm to 10.30pm, Bar: 5.30pm to 12.30am