As part of feeding my curiosity for Singapore’s latest chi chi venue for tea sipping crowds, I made a date with my Japanese expat wife friend cum ex-classmate Miwa to Les Saveurs at St Regis Singapore for their afternoon tea. Having done a market research for the afternoon tea served in various hotel lounges, Les Saveurs is charging one of the highest prices in town for their afternoon tea. I kept my fingers crossed that they’ll deliver satisfaction for the price they charge.
Miwa and I arrived at St Regis at 3:15pm, and the first thing I noticed was the number of staff on duty in the lobby area. Perhaps to make the place slightly more lively since there aren’t that many guests around? Anyway there was this handsome gentleman who approached us and led us to Les Saveurs for our afternoon tea.
I wonder what drove St Regis management to make their staff execute the curious standard of asking for the names of guests at the first point of contact for their F&B outlets because they never seem to remember my name after they use it once. Hmm. I was asked my name too at Astor Bar during my visit some time ago, soon after the opening of the hotel. No, in fact the hostess asked the names of all 4 guests at my table but she didn’t pass the information to her colleagues, nor did she return to my table to do some quality check. Perhaps she was trying to save herself the embarrassment of forgetting our names. The same thing happened today at Les Saveurs. Pointless, no?
Anyway, the grandeur of Les Saveurs showed clearly the amount of money invested in the decor. Beautiful chandeliers hanged from the ceiling, matching colours with the floral-themed 3-dimensional wall motifs and the furniture. Red white and gold. Both very mod and classic at the same time. Chinaware and silverware were polished and expensive-looking. I didn’t peek at the brands, a pity. The wait staff’s black and white uniform was nicely simple and understated, thankfully, before I got an overload of elaborateness. However, they could brush up a bit on the product knowledge. I merely asked about the a la carte prices of a cappucino and an iced tea and they took about 10-15mins to get back to me after “checking with their team leader”. Hmm. Hardly impressive, considering St Regis spent 3 months training guest-contact staff before they even opened. And it’s been months since opening day.
So anyway let’s zoom in on one of the main highlights of the day. The food.
Tea was prepared in the middle of the restaurant where there’s a station with all the varieties of teas and a hot water dispenser. Great to give a bit of showmanship and to cut down on time spent on travelling to and fro between service and back areas. Scones (raisin and plain) and sandwiches (cucumber, chicken ham and quail egg mayonnaise) were served on a 2-tiered stand. Pastries were displayed on an impressive buffet table with over 20 items.
And there’s a curious hot food section in the menu in which you could choose from one of the following options: chicken quiche, prawn and veg dim sum, chicken curry puff or chicken satay. When served the portions were sampling sized and taste-wise, to be honest they were nothing interesting. I had the quiche and Miwa had the curry puff (2 small ones) and we both agreed that they didn’t go well with the theme and feel of the afternoon tea, the portion was too meagre and they weren’t great. if anything, they only added evidence that there wasn’t thought in menu planning and food preparation lacked quality and innovation.
The same went for the scones, which came with cream and raspberry sauce. I’m used to Four Season’s freshly baked, warm-centred scones with strawberry jam (with whole strawberries) and fresh clotted cream. The scones I had today tasted a bit stale, and quite frankly the jam, slightly disappointing.
The items which I really liked were the dark chocolate mousse cake, the strawberry macaroons and the mango and raspberry tarts. The mango tart was very special indeed; an initial glance at it would make you wonder what was the small mountain of yellow spheres all about. Lightly sweetened custard was hiding under the fresh balls of mangos, which were held in the crust, which was crunchy and sweet. Delectable.
The pastry portions were pretty big considering how many varieties there were. I would recommend sharing for all the items or you’ll be too stuffed to try everything, especially if you’re the type who wants to try everything in a buffet.
I also ordered a cappucino, not great froth, but at least they didn’t overheat the milk. At this point may I emphasize that, while not an expert, I expect coffee to be prepared the way I ordered it. I love Starbucks for this because I can get the purrrrfect hazelnut latte there. And if I’m dissatisfied with it on a rare occasion, they’re always happy to prepare another one for me. Lurve the service.
Back in St Regis, the service was friendly and attentive without being intrusive, so nothing much to complain there. I could tell the staff was trying their best to come up with the best possible answer when faced with a query – effort duly noted – so thumbs up for that. However I must say again they really need to brush up on their confidence when conversing with guests, and product knowledge. Very important.
In conclusion, for SGD45++ (or SGD50++ with half a glass – I say half because they really only fill up half the champagne flute – of Moet and Chandon 2000 vintage rose), I felt that I was paying more for the St Regis brand and the ambience rather than the food. In Miwa’s words, to compete in Singapore, food quality counts the most, so they better improve on the recipe.