The British left many things in their wake when they departed from Singapore, two of the most enduring of which have been high tea and Sunday brunch. My friend Jodee and I have been sampling these on an every-other-weekend basis, and I can see how they become a habit (albeit a calorie-laden, expensive habit) for some people. You can choose from buffets or set menus; from free-flow champagne, one glass, or alcohol-free; from high elegance to fairly laid-back affairs. For location, you’re usually in a hotel, but you can choose from old-world elegance to nouveau glass and chandeliers (here, The Clifford Pier at The Fullerton Bay Hotel):
It’s always fun to see what’s on offer. At a buffet, you can usually count on a seafood bar:
You’re also likely to find some combination of dim sum, meats, salads, breads, and sushi. And there is always, of course, an array of beautiful jewel-like desserts:
My favorite food space has to be the cheese room at Basilico — an entire room of cheese! This is exciting because (1) cheese is expensive in Singapore, (2) interesting varieties of cheese like these are hard to come by in Singapore …
… (3) you can have lots of fun things with cheese …
… and (4) cheese is amazing.
They even had a chocolate-gorgonzola cheese, which tasted like Christmas. What’s not to love?
I generally go for the no-alcohol option at brunch or tea, but at Manhattan, alcohol is the centerpiece and brunch appears to be is somewhat of an afterthought. You’re greeted by this punchbowl, and the servers deftly tuck a filled glass between your outstretched fingers before you’ve even made it through the door:
Then they tell you about the two garnish-your-own drinks bars: one for Bloody Marys on the left, and a second for boozy milkshakes on the other. This sits right in the middle:
Add to all of that a free-flow cocktail menu, and whole thing feels little over the top (but also a lot of fun).
High tea usually (but not always) involves less food. You can generally count on having scones, a number of small-bite sweet and savory options, and tea (chocolate fountains also seem to be a thing). Here are Nelson and I (back when he and Nina were visiting in March) at L’Espresso, practicing drinking tea with our pinkies out:
L”Espresso, by the way, would win my award for most kid-friendly high tea. As far as other favorites go, here are a few:
- Best food: Anti:dote (tea) and Basilico (brunch)
- Best value: Lime
- Best tea flavor: TWG’s Number 1 Tea
- Most expansive view: Lobby Lounge, level 32 of the Westin
I’ve also had high tea at some of the grand dames, like The Courtyard at the Fullerton (excellent scones), the Chihuly Lounge at the Ritz (lovely atrium), and the Rose Veranda at the Shangri-La (probably my least favorite of the bunch). But I have not yet had high tea at the Raffles, the most famous old hotel tea of them all, because the building will be under renovations until 2019. But when they reopen, I’ll try to get a table!