The Square @ Novotel Clarke Quay – What’s The Big Deal? Promotion

10 06 2012

Just an update on what this foodie has been up to recently:

It’s currently university holidays now so I’m interning at a private equity firm for 10 weeks and I’m currently in my 6th week now. I would say that the firm I am at is quite unconventional. While most private equity firms function with a high degree of corporate culture (since most of the partners and founders of such firms tend to come from an investment banking or consultancy background), the firm I’m at is pretty “creative”. I go to work in casual attire (tho a polo-t with jeans is the minimum I would tread) unless I have have a nice restaurant dinner scheduled that night (I hypothesize that service staff tend to treat me better in working attire than when I’m in casual attire). There’s a drum set, guitar, keyboard and amps in the meeting room where my colleagues sometimes jam (everyone is musically gifted except me), and sometimes we project youtube using the projector, where my colleagues will play to the beat and I will just sing along. I will be traveling with my colleagues to Korea in July for 5 days (which intern gets to travel overseas during their internship?!) so I’m quite excited as well, and since the trip falls on the last week of my internship, I’m considering extending my stay over there to travel around Korea a bit more since the last time I was there was a decade ago. After that, I will be heading down to Hong Kong, Macau and Hainan Island for a long relaxing 11 day trip till end July before I start school in mid-August.

Apart from internship, there are a few other reasons why my blog posts are coming out in a tad slower than expected. I just started taking up golf lessons with some friends. I’m finding it pretty fun but it takes up quite a bit of time since I try to go twice a week. I also pre-ordered Diablo 3 and am slowing making my way through the game as well. Overall, think summer hols is gg great for me so far :D

Anyway, I visited The Square on 2 separate tastings as coincidentally, a tasting was also extended to SMU Gourmet Club (that I’m a part of) and I went a second time on behalf of the club, playing the role of the meal photographer, so I guess I have a pretty good idea of what’s good here. The buffet is priced at $38++ for Lunch (Everyday), $48++ for Dinner (Sun-Thurs) and $58++ for Dinner (BBQ nite, Fri-Sat).

Unlike The Line from Shangri la, Carousel at Royal Plaza on Scotts or Triple Three from Meritus Mandarin, admittedly The Square @ Novotel Clarke Quay isn’t very well known for their buffet and most of the patrons here are hotel guests. But with newly appointed Head Chef Jean-Philippe Couturier at the helm, has the buffet spread at The Square been rejuvenated?

I’m not a buffet person per-se. I used to be when I was younger, when the appeal of having free-flow sashimi was still there but now, the elements of authenticity and having freshly prepared dishes seems to take precedence so I have been slowing moving away from buffets. As such, dishes that I find decent here are in my mind, really laudable for buffet standards.

Currently, they are having the What’s the BIG Deal? promotion, where 3-4 BIG dishes are featured every night during dinner such as a variety of risottos cooked a la minute. This promotion lasts till the end of June. They also have an upcoming Father’s Day Special every weekend, where fathers get to dine for free with every 4 dining persons.

On the buffet line, there’s a selection of appetizers to choose from, such as assorted sushi, salmon and tuna sashimi, potato and pasta salad, oysters, chilled prawns & shellfish, brie cheese, club sandwiches, seaweed, golden coin bak kua, ham and parma ham just to name a few.

The Roast Beef at the carving station is pretty good but it requires diners to carve it themselves. Although the intention might have been good, to ensure that the beef does not dry up when left in the open for too long, few people actually take the effort to carve the meat themselves and end up missing out on this splendid roast.

As mentioned above, some of the “big dishes” will be prepared a la minute, with the risottos being one of them. On my first visit, I tucked into the Seafood Risotto which I found rather pedestrian. If only there was a pure-scallop risotto (I’m sure they can whip it up), scallops are my favourite!

However, on my second visit, I received a Vegetable Risotto which came with a side of Parma Ham. I thought this was much better executed than the seafood risotto and something I might consider ordering again. The cheesiness was balanced well with the the hint of tomatoes puree and basil pesto and if the parma ham served with the risotto isn’t enough, just head down to the buffet line to get a refill.

Ironically, my favourite main here is only available from the ala carte menu, the Poached Cod Fillet in Spicy Coconut and Prawn Broth, served with Sauteed Vegetables and Chicken Rice ($34++). The gravy tastes like a creamy sweet laksa sauce with a little more concentration and richness than the usual laksa gravy. This is fusion done right.

The Laksa prepared at their live cooking station falls short when compared to the cod dish. The gravy is a tad too spicy and not as smooth as what you can get from the reputable hawker like Katong Laksa.

The buffet line also features a vast array of other international and local dishes. Other dishes that I found palatable were the Fried Kuey Teow which had a nice “wok hei” character and the Curry Mutton.

As for desserts, the Chocolate Mousse with Mint Chocolate (left of bottom pic) is clearly unrivaled. It is so darn good and chocolatey that it was the only dessert I took that I left none for the ants. Seriously, save stomach space for at least 2 of this, or maybe 3 because it’s the star of the buffet. I would even come back specifically for this if it was served ala-carte. The Green Tea Panna Cotta (bottom left of bottom pic) is not bad as well.

Overall, I would say that the buffet is priced at fair value. The selection and quality might not be as good as some of the more renowned buffet restaurants in Singapore, justifying the more affordable buffet prices at The Square but there are definitely a few gems here that are waiting to be discovered. Coupled with the current What’s the Big Deal promotion, it might just be worth dropping by.

On a random note, guests who stay in the “executive rooms” of Novotel Clarke Quay also get access to their premier lounge, where they get complimentary food and booze (wine included), plus a great view (bottom) from the private balconies in the lounge. I believe the executive rooms are around $60/night more expensive than the standard rooms, so I think its quite a good deal to just upgrade since you get a larger room and I’m pretty sure most of us can guzzle $60 worth of booze a night easily.

Special thanks to Novotel and John for hosting an enjoyable evening.

The Square

177A River Valley Road, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay Level 7

Tel: +65 6433 8790

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