Sunday, April 03, 2005

A Leisurely Afternoon

Some hotels are both historical and culinary landmarks. In Singapore, the grandest of them all is Raffles Hotel.

We celebrated John’s birthday by going for traditional English high tea at the Bar and Billiard Room. Graceful chandeliers hung from high ceilings, giving the room an airy feel. We sat back on our cushioned chairs and tried to catch a glimpse of each other through the three tiers of loaded tea trays.

Raffles has an extensive tea selection. John picked a good one, the ginger and herb tea. The fragrance and taste both evoked our favorite spas – don’t ask us how we can imagine how a spa would taste. I had the peach blossom tea which was very, well, peachy.

Every so often a pair of tourists would wander in, happy to be out of the heat and the humidity.

We analyzed each piece of pastry, trying to figure out what was what. John accidentally picked a scone with raisins (he dislikes raisins) so he swapped it for my orange scone. I took his slice of fruit cake (I actually like fruit cake, and this one was good). Now I know why high tea service runs for two hours... that's how long it takes to finish off all the sweets you're served.

We got tons of amusement value out of the silver teapots. John accidentally popped his tea strainer open while investigating his teapot, spilling tea leaves into his tea. Good thing we were done by then!

The Tiffin Room around the corner also serves high tea. The buffet there is popular with tourists, and we felt the long lines didn’t quite fit with our plan of a relaxing afternoon tea.

One day I'll come back and try the Writers Bar in the lobby. We strolled through and paused to listen to the pianist; next time we'll stay longer.

Reservations

The restaurant wasn't full the day we went. If you're the type who likes calling ahead (we did), you can make reservations by calling 6331-1612.

High tea is served from 3:30 to 5:30 pm Mondays to Saturdays, and 4:00 pm to 5:30 pm on Sundays. Dress code is smart casual, although we did spot a tourist or two in walking shorts.

Prices

The Raffles Set is priced at S$32 per person, plus tax and service charge (an additional 16%). The Sarkies Set is slightly less. You can order champagne with either set for a few more dollars.

Getting There

Take the MRT to City Hall and then walk through Raffles City mall, past the Swissotel Stamford.

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