I must admit that I don’t often go to have high tea when I am based in at home in Melbourne, Australia. We seem to have such a diverse food culture (not to mention the usual comfort foods) that high tea is not high on the list.
However, during my recent holiday to Singapore, I was recommended to visit The Clifford Pier (at the Fullerton Bay Hotel) for a weekend high tea – known as the Heritage Tea.
The thing that particularly caught my eye with this high tea was that it has a local Singaporean twist. The majority of the food (and beverage) items available are an adaptation of Singaporean classics. So basically, I am able to get a classy fulfilling meal, act like a tourist and get to sample some local culture – win win win!
The Fullerton Bay Hotel is in a prime position right on Singapore’s harbour. It is opposite the new Marina Sands casino and hotel, and actually provides a unique view of that complex. As the name suggests, The Clifford Pier is actually a pier! That is, it stretches out over the water. However, you will not be exposed to the elements – the entire dining area is indoors (undercover and aircon!).
The interior is spacious and stunning! As we checked in for the high tea, we gazed around in awe as we were led to our table.
The Heritage Tea set used to come on a traditional three tiered stand (which overflowed onto a couple of additional plates). However, more recently, the weekend version now has a buffet element for the savoury items, and the sweet items come out on the stand.
The food itself was a good quality and the buffet had a number of classic Singapore dishes including chilli crab, curry chicken, sambal prawn, carrot cake and glazed pork. In terms of quality, I am sure that each individual dish would have a dedicated hawker somewhere in Singapore that would be producing a better dish. However, on the whole, I would say all the dishes were above average. (I should also mention that The Fullerton Hotel should not be a substitute for experiencing local Singaporean hawker food and restaurants – go to the local markets and centres too!)
In particular, this was my only opportunity to try chilli crab, and it was delicious, with flavourful crab meat swimming in a sweet tangy tomato sauce. The small buns (‘man tou’) that accompanied the dish were also very good – crisp on the outside, with a fluffy centre.
The three-tiered stand was brought to our table and featured a number of yummy desserts, including scones with jam, pandan roll, butter cake, biscuits and a fruit/nut type bar.
These desserts were accompanied by a range of condiments including roselle (similar to blackberry) jam, cream, kaya (coconut) jam and butter. The condiments were put to good use!
Of course, no high tea would be complete without great beverages. The Clifford Pier provides a range of beverages that are included as part of the high tea set. These include three ‘local’ beverages made to order: kopi o (black coffee with milk and condensed milk to mix), teh tarik (pulled milk tea) and air bundung (rose water milk). They also had other local favourites as part of the buffet, which included milo, plain milk and air bundung (pre-made).
In addition to the local favourites, you could order a selection of teas and coffees. In particular, they offer a wide selection of TWG teas, which are certainly worth trying. TWG is a Singaporean brand which is marketed as being very exclusive and ‘top end’. Throughout South East Asia they have salons and cafes featured in shopping malls and airports (where their teas can be sampled and purchased). The TWG teas that I tried were very good!
We took advantage of the variety of beverages on offer and I personally ordered a teh tarik, kopi o, espresso and earl grey tea. Yum!
The general atmosphere of the place was good. The restaurant was actually full, but it did not feel crowded. There was also entertainment in the form of live music. The views outside were great. Even if you do not have a window table, simply stroll outside onto their private boardwalk to view the harbour and Marina Bay Sands complex.
Perhaps the one let down was the service. As mentioned, it was a ‘full house’, however the wait time for drinks was quite long and I often needed to re-check our orders (literally a 30min wait on two occasions for drinks). However, besides this minor glitch, the service staff were generally helpful, efficient and attentive.
In terms of pricing, I believe that it is great value at $45 SGD per person (plus taxes, which brings the total to about $53 SGD) for food and beverages. It is probably a little pricey by local standards ($4 chicken rice anyone?). However, for a top hotel, and a high tea in general, it is good value!
I would certainly recommend The Clifford Pier’s Heritage Tea for a special occasion or for visitors to Singapore looking to do something a bit more ‘upmarket’ with local twist!
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