Butcher’s Block, the final restaurant to open after the much publicised refurbishment of Raffles Hotel, might be a case of saving the best for the last. Unlike many of the other openings at Raffles, Butcher’s Block doesn’t have the pedigree of a celebrity chef attached to its name; but holds its own weight rather well. Heading the kitchen is Frenchman Remy Lefebvre, who, curiously enough, once held court at Mexican restaurant El Mero Mero.
The first thing one notices at Butcher’s Block is their massive ageing cabinet, a temperature and humidity-controlled space there not just meat, but also fish hangs. Centre stage is an open kitchen where the food is prepared over wood fires and coals across multiple grills. Butcher’s Block isn’t a straightforward barbecue restaurant though – Lefebvre has a knack for seamlessly introducing unexpected flavours to a simply-prepared main ingredient – whether its a punchy black pepper sauce over succulent scallop and its coral; or artichoke, both grilled and fried, dressed with a moreish, buttery sauce inflected with black vinegar and Sichuan spices.
To truly experience the full potential at Butcher’s Block though, head for their OAK Table, a ticketed dining series where, every Friday and Saturday, guests get to experience a degustation menu alongside four wines that have been handpicked for guests to experiment with different pairings. Expect off-menu and seasonal items, including turbot, dry-aged to deepen its flavour as well as increase its resilience to the harsh heat of the grill. The wine programme here is also notable – with over 200 labels, many of which feature natural wines.
#02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road. Tel: 6337-1886
1-Group’s latest project is 1-VU (read as “one view”), a dual-concept featuring a day club and a modern-Asian restaurant. What ties the two together – besides being right next to each other – is head chef Ace Tan, whos brings his brand of progressive Asian cooking to both the club and the restaurant. Poolside partying no longer has to mean fried food as you tuck into creations like wagyu burger with scrambled eggs, kimchi slaw, and black garlic cream.
At the restaurant though, is where Tan’s inventive cooking gets to truly shine. Dishes mostly feature a wide mish-mash of influences that somehow work together. Highlights include a bo ssam-like arrangement of oyster blade served with accoutrements including pesto made with Asian herbs, yam puree, and house-made oyster sauce – produced by painstaking boiling down pure oyster stock. Then there’s red snapper fillet, a combination of French, Chinese, and Japanese techniques and ingredients that features fish with house-made XO sauce, fumet beurre blanc, and pickled Japanese ginger flower.
Desserts, too, might seem European in construction, but draw heavily from Asian flavours with plates like sesame “textures” with miso ice cream and smoked soy caramel; and sweet Cameroon Highlands-grown strawberries served with hojicha jelly and osmanthus yogurt sorbet.
Outpost Hotel, 10 Artillery Ave, #07-01. Tel: 6513-7708