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MYRAID SELECTIONS: The different offerings at Ash & Elm across the various meal times means greater flexibility in catering to hotel and city guests, as well as meeting groups, while maintaining variety; (above) Ash & Elm Platter.

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MYRAID SELECTIONS: The different offerings at Ash & Elm across the various meal times means greater flexibility in catering to hotel and city guests, as well as meeting groups, while maintaining variety; (above) Chocolate-Hazelnut Pizza.

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MYRAID SELECTIONS: The different offerings at Ash & Elm across the various meal times means greater flexibility in catering to hotel and city guests, as well as meeting groups, while maintaining variety; (above) Charcuterie & Cheese Room.

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MYRAID SELECTIONS: The different offerings at Ash & Elm across the various meal times means greater flexibility in catering to hotel and city guests, as well as meeting groups, while maintaining variety; (above) New York Striploin.

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DIVERSE CUISINE: For The Line's 10th birthday, new executive chef Franco Brodini has updated the culinary selection, adding new highlights such as live shawarma and carving stations; (above) shawarma station.

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DIVERSE CUISINE: For The Line's 10th birthday, new executive chef Franco Brodini has updated the culinary selection, adding new highlights such as live shawarma and carving stations; (above) Gochujang pork ribs.

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BEYOND AESTHETICS: Colony has more live stations and an even more impressive spread than predecessor Greenhouse, with its interior revamped to be more chic, stylish and warm; (above) The Ice Bar.

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BEYOND AESTHETICS: Colony has more live stations and an even more impressive spread than predecessor Greenhouse, with its interior revamped to be more chic, stylish and warm; (above) interior of restaurant.

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BEYOND AESTHETICS: Colony has more live stations and an even more impressive spread than predecessor Greenhouse, with its interior revamped to be more chic, stylish and warm; (above) laksa with homemade lobster ball.

Staying power

Live stations and open kitchen concepts are giving hotel restaurants an added edge as they raise the bar on their F&B offerings to cater to more discerning diners.
Oct 17, 2015 5:50 AM

Ash & Elm
InterContinental Singapore, Level 1
Tel:  6825-1008

American breakfast buffet, Mon to Fri, 6am to 10.30am, Weekends and public holidays, 6am to 11am, S$40++ per adult;
Semi-buffet lunch, Mon to Fri, 12pm to 2pm, S$48++ per adult;
A la carte lunch, daily from 12pm to 3pm;
A la carte dinner, daily from 6pm to 10.30pm

WHEN you pour so much money and resources into a complete renovation, who can blame you for wanting people to see what you've done? At the Intercontinental Singapore's new Ash & Elm, everything is in full view, even the kitchen.

The 150-seater restaurant takes over from the Olive Tree, which had been around for 20 years - since the hotel opened - and has been long overdue for a revamp.

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While Olive Tree was an all-day buffet restaurant, Ash & Elm offers a buffet breakfast, and a semi-buffet lunch on weekdays. At other times, the food is available from the a la carte menu.

With its original buffet concept, most of the cooking was done behind closed doors, and the chefs seldom got to interact with diners.

But that has changed. Ash & Elm features three open stations, or what they call culinary stations - a Charcuterie & Cheese Room, Wood-Fired Oven and an Open-Grill. All the food is prepared in full view of diners. Diners are welcomed and encouraged to walk up to any chef, including the ones in the open kitchen, to chat or to watch them cook.

"Olive Tree served our guests well for the past 20 years, but we also recognise the burgeoning food scene in Singapore coupled with increased competition in the industry. It was essential for us to develop new offerings to cater to the progressive tastes and preferences of our guests," says Tash Tobias, general manager of the hotel.

Ms Tobias adds that reinvention is important for the hotel to remain relevant in the industry. "As a hotel-operated restaurant, it is crucial for us to take a broader approach in catering to a wider target of international audience and palates, especially when it comes to breakfast, where a large volume of hotel guests is expected."

The different offerings across the various meal times means greater flexibility in catering to hotel and city guests, as well as meeting groups, while maintaining variety.

For example, business and meeting guests can opt for the fuss-free semi-buffet lunch while other guests can pick their selections from the a la carte lunch menu.

While Olive Tree started as a Mediterranean restaurant before moving on to serve an international buffet, Ash & Elm is mostly European cuisine.

Ms Tobias explains that as Ash & Elm is one of six restaurants and bars located in the hotel, "we wanted to ensure that our collection of dining offerings are representative of the preferences of the wide range of guests that we have". The hotel's other restaurants include Chinese restaurant Man Fu Yuan, and tenant-operated outlets such as Chikuyotei Japanese restaurant and Baker & Cook cafe.

From the a la carte menu, Ash & Elm offers a selection of sharing platters, such as the Ash & Elm platter - a mix of house-cured beef pastrami and hot smoked pork loin, cold-roast beef, air-dried pork belly and foie gras with smoked duck. A S$24 platter like this is good for two to three.

The pumpkin and bacon flat bread, for S$18, is made fresh in the wood-fired oven using Jarrah hardwood from Western Australia and is definitely worth ordering.

Also good for sharing is the beef tasting platter, S$108, which gets you Bavette d'Aloyau, Australian Rib-Eye Steak and New York Striploin. The meats are grilled over specially imported Manuka woodchips from New Zealand, alongside charcoal to give a robust flavour and natural caramelisation to the meats.

From the dessert menu, go for the Chocolate-Hazelnut pizza, S$24. Meant to be shared, the pizza is made from chocolate brioche, topped with dark, white and milk chocolate, with pralines and marshmallows.

Award winning interior design firm FBEYE International did the interiors for Ash & Elm. By day, the skylight canopy allows the restaurant to be filled with natural light, while at night, the space is lit by hanging pendant lights with hand-cut polished crystals.

The restaurant gets its name from the use of wood for its oven and grills, and this wood theme is carried through its interiors as well, with the use of timber walls, and copper partitions made to resemble the back of an old oak tree.

The opening of Ash & Elm is part of a holistic multi-million dollar renovation project which comprises areas including the hotel's guestrooms, lobby, fitness centre and The Lobby Lounge.


Innovative experiences

The Line
Shangri-La Hotel Singapore,
Lower Lobby, Tower Wing
Tel: 6213-4398

Lunch, Mon to Fri, 12pm to 2.30pm, S$58++ per adult, Sat, 12pm to 3pm, S$68++ per adult;
Carnivore Champagne brunch, Sun, 12pm to 3pm, S$158++ per adult;
Dinner, Mon to Sun, 6pm to 10.30pm, from S$76++ per adult

IN 2005, when The Line restaurant at Shangri-La Hotel Singapore opened, it was one of the first restaurants in Singapore to present a live theatrical kitchen concept, says Reto Klauser, vice-president and general manager of the hotel.

Ten years on, those live kitchens are still there, and since then, other buffet restaurants have also followed the same concept. But more importantly, a decade since its opening, The Line is still packing in crowds, even on a weekday lunch service.

"Since its debut in 2005, The Line has been synonymous with diverse cuisine that does not compromise on quality," says Mr Klauser. "Guests have always enjoyed exploring the 16 open kitchens."

For its 10th birthday, new executive chef Franco Brodini has updated the culinary selection, adding new highlights such as live shawarma and carving stations.

Besides doner kebabs and pistachio lamb shawarma, other new highlights on the menu include pork ribs marinated in Gochujang or Korean chilli sauce, aburi salmon sushi with spicy mayonnaise, Tiger Beer Mussels, and 200-day grain fed Stockyard Beef striploin, which is only available at dinner.

While seafood fans know to head to The Line on Tuesdays and Thursdays, when The Line has its Marine Harvest buffet and seafood takes centrestage, diners on the other nights may be happy to know that Alaskan king crab legs will be available every night, and Boston lobster will be added to the seafood selection at the Carnivore Champagne Brunch on Sundays.

Mr Klauser says that The Line is not resting on its laurels despite proving itself as one of Singapore's favourite places for buffets.

To cater to the discerning taste and changing preferences of Singaporeans, The Line continues to evolve, offering guests innovative and exciting dining experiences to keep them engaged and satiated, he says.


Voyage of discovery

Colony
The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore, Level 3
Tel: 6434-5288

Breakfast, Mon to Sun, from 6.30am to 10.30am, S$45++ per adult;
Lunch, Mon to Sat, 12pm to 2.30pm, S$58++ per adult;
Dinner, Mon to Sun, 6.30pm to 10.30pm, S$78++ per adult from Sun to Thurs, S$88++ per adult on Fri and Sat;
Champagne Afternoon Tea, Mon to Sat, 3.30pm to 5.30pm, S$49++ per adult;
Vintage Champagne Brunch, Sun, 12pm to 3.30pm, S$188++ per adult

WHEN the popular buffet restaurant Greenhouse at The Ritz-Carlton, Millenia Singapore closed earlier in March, you could hear the collective sigh of sadness among its fans.

But no fear. It's finally re-opened with a new name and theme. Now called Colony, it's gone one up on Greenhouse with more live stations and an even more impressive spread than before.

Another change is that instead of an international buffet spread like before, the 260-seater restaurant now serves more local fare, with a bit of Western.

The hotel's executive assistant manager for food and beverage Fabien Gastinel says: "Alluding to the great sea voyages of the British to the East Indies, the culinary journey at Colony reflects this voyage of discovery, where diners can enjoy unlimited servings of the best of Singapore's heritage cuisines such as Chinese, Malaysian, Indian, Indonesian and Western."

All in, there are eight live stations. The Ice Bar is set to be a hit with its spread of king crab legs, oysters, black mussels and poached live prawns on ice. Salads and a wide variety of cold cuts and cheeses also share space on the same station.

Next is the Grill & Rotisserie, with its selection of grilled meats done Asian and Western style. Among the highlights are Beef Wellington, Iberico suckling pig, and generous servings of foie gras.

Over at the Steam Basket, the Colony laksa with an enormous homemade lobster ball is the must-have, along with hand-pulled noodles, and a selection of dim sum. As its name suggests, the Wok Station whips up the likes of Hokkien mee, chilli crab and seafood fried rice with XO sauce.

Spice fiends can head to the Tandoor station for their fill of meat, seafood and naan cooked in a traditional tandoor oven.

Rounding off the collection of stations are a new Fruit Stall; the Patisserie serving Nonya kueh, artisan chocolates and ice cream; and the Bakery, where the highlight is the Upper Crust, a new pastry creation comprised of a cookie upper crust, and a muffin base.

For a little bit extra, you can opt to have a personalised table-side experience and have Colony's resident mixologist handcraft speciality cocktails. This is available only during dinner.

Apart from the buffet spread, Colony offers a traditional British-style three-tier afternoon tea set, while on Sundays, there is the vintage champagne brunch.

The restaurant took on more than just a name change. Greenhouse's dated look has made way for a feel that is more chic, stylish and warm, thanks to veteran New York-based designer Tony Chi. Wood is used extensively, together with fixtures in brass finishes designed by Mr Chi. To play up the heritage feel, vintage maps and postcards adorn the restaurant walls, alongside vintage-style furniture.

"Dining at Colony is meant to be an event. Beyond just aesthetics, we have endeavoured to craft an immersive epicurean journey for our guests through showcasing the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and touches of the colonial era," said Peter Mainguy, the hotel's general manager.