We really tried our best to finish the generous lunch at Beach Road Kitchen

Beach Road Kitchen has been on our list of buffet restaurants to try for the longest time, but with buffets being a no-no during this socially-distant period, it dropped off our radar and didn’t feature at all on my eating out list for 2021.

However, as we were browsing the various restaurants participating in this year’s Restaurant Week, the menu and compelling price point at Beach Road Kitchen caught The Wife’s attention and we found ourselves there on a weekday afternoon.

The restaurant is located in the new-ish South Beach Quarter, where the fenced-up Beach Road army camp used to be. It’s listed in the dining options under the JW Marriott Hotel Singapore South Beach and is the breakfast location for the hotel in-house guests.

Walking through the glass doors, the main displays feature the condiments, sauces, cold cuts, cheeses and wines served. We didn’t pay particular attention to the specific brands, but it was good that they were on display because we managed to find out the very thick and delicious balsamic vinegar used.

Dinesh greeted us, confirmed our reservations and guided us to our seats. The space was clearly designed for buffet service with the different food stations spread out within the bright, airy yet cosy interior.

After we were seated, we had a chat with him about the current situation with the F&B industry and especially how badly those linked to hotels were affected over the past year. Despite the dire situation, he shared how everyone tried to stay upbeat and made the best of the bad situation. This spirit was displayed throughout the lunch, as we could feel the enthusiasm from all the servers that we interacted with.

Our paper placemats doubled up as the gateway to their e-menu, with QR codes for their different offerings clearly printed on the bottom row, below hand-drawn illustrations of their signature dishes.

Our lunch would be their “Get Social” special four-course set on offer during weekdays for lunch and dinner, except during Friday nights. A minimum of two diners are required and while the usual price is S$48++ per person, it was available at S$38++ per person if reserved under the Restaurant Week promotion.

On paper, the wide variety of the set menu was compelling, even more so considering the discounted price. After Dinesh poured us our cups of warm water, he gave us an ominous warning before leaving:

“Go easy on the first course, you’ll need the space for later”.

And then the food started arriving.

Starting with a chunky wooden board with cheese (manchego, cheddar and truffle brie), crackers, cold cuts, grilled peppers and sun-dried tomatoes, a bread basket, nachos and banana chips with guacamole dip, steamed white wine mussels and salad. Honestly, this amount of food would have been enough as a light lunch for the two of us.

We asked for some olive oil and balsamic vinegar to dip our breads in, and the head waiter Mohamed Ali promptly went to the pizza station to bring us some. We overheard the chef telling him that they had run out of the balsamic and would have to open a fresh bottle. “Then just open it”, he replied, politely but firmly.

I’m not a fan of dipping my bread in balsamic but The Wife loves doing it. Usually, the dipping vinegar served in restaurants is watery and average tasting, but this one was rich, thick and flavourful. It was clearly the good stuff. Which would explain the chef’s initial reluctance.

So, thank you Mohamed Ali, we appreciate your service.

First course done. More food arrived.

A heavy stone pot with chilli crab and accompanying mantous, grilled spring chicken with roasted vegetables and creamy mashed potatoes, as well as a cup of lobster bisque each. We started with the soup and were amazed to find it packed with generous chunks of lobster.

The chilli crab was tangy and spicy, and while not quite authentic-tasting as local seafood restaurants, they were quite good. The grilled spring chicken was also done well, including the side vegetables and mashed potatoes.

By this time, we were already quite full but I told The Wife that we should try our best to finish all the food instead of dabao’ing any back.

The pasta course came next.

One bowl each of lobster laksa linguine and beef ragu conchiglie. And while they weren’t full servings, each portion was still quite substantial. The lobster laksa linguine was an Italian take on their signature lobster laksa and turned out surprisingly well. The beef ragu was juicy, tendon-y, richly seasoned and was also quite good.

“Shall I serve the pizza?” asked our friendly waitress.

When we said yes, she arrived with a 6-inch half roast duck, half truffle cheese pizza.

And that’s when we surrendered.

We did manage to share one piece of each flavour, but asked for the rest to be packed for takeaway. After resting for a while, we made a decent attempt at dessert, but clearly couldn’t finish it, despite the scientific fact that desserts go into a separate stomach.

We had to rest a while more, to digest before we could stand up. The remaining takeaway pizza arrived, nicely kept in clearly too much packaging. I had to sign a waiver letter first though (seriously, not joking), stating that I wouldn’t hold the restaurant responsible if I got food poisoning from eating stale food. Fair enough.

I was curious about their usual ala carte menu and scanned the QR code again. It wasn’t an overly ambitious kitchen nightmare type of hotel restaurant menu with 101 items across a dozen cuisines.

Instead, it was small and compact with the usual suspects of burgers, pasta etc plus a small selection of local dishes. But based on what we had, I’m confident that they’d execute each dish well. They also offer a Sunday champagne brunch, which we’re tempted to come back for.

We paid and as we were walking out, we passed by Mohamed Ali and asked him about (and thanked him for) the balsamic vinegar that he arm-twisted the chef to pour out for us. He pointed to the Lustau 1/24 Vinagre de Jerez Riserva sherry vinegar that was on display but sadly informed us that it was not for sale. Likewise for the tasty manchego that was served on the cheese board.

He noticed that I was wearing my knee brace and enquired about my condition, with a genuine look of concern on his face. I told him that it was a small matter and mainly due to inevitable effects of aging and past sports injuries.

We chatted for a while more, and he shared with us that bookings were slowly improving, although safe distancing rules meant that they could only operate on restricted capacity. He also shared details of their Sunday champagne brunch, including how the chefs would go around and do table service for some of their specials.

Definitely sounds like a return visit is on the cards, especially given the warm and friendly service we received and the very generous portions and good quality of the food served. Reinforcements, though, would probably be necessary.

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