Halia @ Raffles Hotel (Singapore)

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Setting

Interior of Halia @ Raffles Hotel

11 years after anchoring at Singapore Botanic Gardens (“SBG”), Halia goes to town with a less formal offshoot at Raffles Hotel.

Occupying the former roost of Seah Street Deli, the airy 70-seat joint retains the French windows and monochromatic floor tiles of its funky predecessor but in place of the old-school jukebox that took centre stage, planter boxes with lush flora adorn the colonial-chic interior.

For a shot of aperitif (or digestif) – wines, beers, cocktails and a selection of spirits including The Balvenie single malt whiskey, Reyka vodka and Milagro tequila, skip across to the 30-seat al fresco bar set in an adjoining courtyard that used to house Raffles Creamery. Here, you’ll find a Hendrick’s Gin bathtub (yes, it’s a real bath tub) with a functional tap that dispenses gin on demand – but only when the tub is booked for private parties.

What to expect?

Under the guidance of head chef, Ciaran Amstrong, an Irish and the former sous chef at SBG, Halia @ Raffles Hotel fields modern European with a touch of Asian pizzazz but don’t come here expecting a copy of the flagship.

Instead of starters and mains, the menu of Halia @ Raffles Hotel is structured around the somewhat gimmicky concept of small plates and big plates. 
Celeriac lasagna

From the small plates department, celeriac lagsagna (S$12)with toasted mushrooms is a vegetarian-endearing stack of thinly sliced celeriac sheets layered in a truffle oil-perfumed creamy Madeira sauce that’s so addictive that it earns itself a place as a de rigueur on the menu.
Chilli crab pasta

Another ‘must have” is the Halia fixture of chilli crab pasta (S$25, a signature dish also available at SBG and Hanoi) from the big plates menu, a crowd-pleasing play on Singapore’s iconic chilli crab dish with spaghettini tossed in a sweet-and-heady chilli crab sauce crowned with shreds of crabmeat.

But it’s not all milk and honey.

Javanese spice Maori Lakes rack of lamb

The candied ginger pecan bits that arrived with the foie gras salad (S$23) hinted of rancidity though everything else on the plate was postcard perfect. Much to our chagrin, the Javanese spice Maori Lakes rack of lamb (S$47) failed to rise to the occasion from a barely-there spice blend infusion though the fork-tender meat wins raves.

Stick toffee pudding
Thankfully, the sticky toffee pudding (S$10) served a la mode brings the dinner to a pleasant conclusion with a faultless marriage of stodge and sweetness. And for that perfect cup of Joe with a kick, the affogato amaretto (S$11), amaretto liqueur with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and a shot of espresso, never fails.

Halia @ Raffles Hotel | #01-22/23, 1 Beach Road, Raffles Hotel  | Tel: 65-9639 1148

For picture story, go to www.facebook.com/bibikgourmand

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© Evelyn Chen 2013

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