SINGAPORE (Feb 7): The Raffles Hotel needs no introduction. After all, it can trace its beginnings all the way back to the late 1800s. Having just completed its renovations last August, it is unveiling the final piece in its F&B puzzle, so to speak, with Butcher’s Block, a speciality meat restaurant in its revamped Raffles Arcade.

From the get-go, the stylishly furnished space of cobalt blue hues, complementary dark wood panelling and bold brass furnishing and accents is welcoming and warm. The restaurant also features a glass cooler they call the Vault, where it displays speciality cuts of meats. Located next to the open kitchen, this is where patrons can watch the chefs prepare and cook the food. On the opposite end is the exposed wine cellar, which they call the Library, where over 200 different wine labels are displayed.

However, the centrestage is reserved for the OAK Table, or One-of-A-Kind Table, a communal dining table that seats eight for a special off-the-menu dinner and wine experience. While Butcher’s Block serves up protein dishes to satisfy any carnivore, the OAK Table is where dining becomes an unique experience in itself. Available only on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the OAK Table menu is revealed only on the evening itself.

Priced at $398++ per person, every menu is different, which allows Chef de Cuisine Remy Lefebvre to deliver tableside interaction, engaging with guests and showcasing special cuts of meat in limited quantities. To complete the experience, a line-up of one bubbly and three wines selected by the Raffles sommelier team is offered free-flow along with the dinner.

I was given the opportunity to try the OAK Table recently, and right off the bat, was greeted by a glass of champagne, a Larmandier-Bernier Longtitude Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs Extra Brut, with notes of citrus fruits and almonds on the nose. It was paired with small bites specially created by Chef Remy, before we were led to the main event. On the menu were three excellent wines – two red, one white. The white was a 2018 Hermit Ram “skin-fermented” Sauvignon Blanc, a cloudy, “unclarified” white wine with a great texture and mouthfeel and hints of stone fruit and, dare I say, even a bit of lychee? The two reds were the 2015 Azienda Agricola Cos Cerasuolo di Vittoria Classico Nero D’Avola, a Sicilian deep red/garnet wine that is the blend of two indigenous Sicilian grapes, Nero d'Avola and Frappato; and the exquisite and limited 2016 Chateau Market Louis Mitjavile Merlot.

The meal began with hand-dived Norwegian scallop served with pepper sauce, roast artichoke, and black vinegar dressing. The mild and sweet scallop paired perfectly with the wine and the slight bitterness of the artichoke. Next up was cuts of A5 Wagyu beef and bluefin tuna in a red wine sauce, served with wild mushrooms on the side. As Chef Remy explains it, both were cooked with special care so as to provide an experience where one would not be able to distinguish between the two – an interesting approach to two fundamentally different proteins.

There was also Wild Turbot with sauce vierge, served with Mitraille potatoes and plankton, an unusual choice that lent a hint of grassiness to the potatoes. Beef on the bone was next, cooked medium and to perfection, with carrots sweetly caramelised with tahini, paste made from sesame seeds and a staple in Mediterranean cuisines, and zahatar, a Middle Eastern family of herbs that include oregano and thyme. After all that richness, dessert was a simple seasonal tart of fruit and sorbet.

Every experience at the OAK Table is different, so what I experienced may not be replicated again. However, the combination of fine cooking and attention to detail is clear in every dish presented with flourish by Chef Remy. The personalised attention makes the dining experience memorable, something one-of-a-kind not found elsewhere – like an omakase (a Japanese dining concept which means “trust the chef” where the chef curates and decides the menu for you) for meat. The communal dining concept takes a bit of getting used to, but adds to the overall experience. All in all, a meal here will leave even the most carnivorous among us completely satisfied.

 

Butcher’s Block, Raffles Arcade,

Address: Raffles Hotel, #02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Rd, 188719

Opening hours: 6pm to 10pm everyday

Contact: +65 6337 1886 / https://www.butchersblock.com.sg/

(OAK Table by reservation only, pre-payment online is required)