We did something we don’t often do in Singapore: turn up without checking the menu, speaking to the staff and ensuring the establishment is capable of preparing interesting food without making us ill. As far as checking the menu was concerned, it didn’t help that Clifford Pier is another Singapore establishment who don’t post their menu online.
Note to self: take this as a reminder not to visit a restaurant if they don’t publish their menu. Those amongst us who have no option other than to be a little wary of eating food prepared by commercial kitchens, have to take the first step towards protecting ourselves, which is to vet an establishments’ menu in advance.
Whilst our waiter notched up serious brownie points for knowing what gluten is, and offering to check with the kitchen where he was unsure, he was hampered by the menu. There was the most serious lack of choice that I think I have so far come across in a dinner menu (nearly every dish contained soy or oyster sauce).
I could have the tomato and avocado salad for a starter and a plain piece of cod with vegetables (the miso and sake dressing was off limits) for the main course. Of the many on the menu there were no dessert choices suitable for me. I opted just for the salad but there was a misunderstanding and both the salad and cod arrived together while ‘The Unconstrained’ had a perfectly acceptable but undemanding Singapore laksa.
What to say: the cod was attractively presented although, perhaps inevitably given the absence of the marinade, rather bland. The salad – that I ended up eating after the ‘main’ course – was very salty. This is the second time recently that the salt cellar has slipped in a chef’s hands. Judicious seasoning enhances a dish, too much just spoils it. Aside from that, the salad really was a very amateurish assemblage and the addition of pureed tomatoes underneath the chopped tomatoes and avocado was quite unpalatable and just a bit odd. Perhaps it was a rather dubious way to add ‘interest’ or justify the price, but it achieved neither.
Perhaps having read this you won’t be surprised to know that I won’t be putting The Clifford Pier on my wish list of eateries to return to for an evening meal. Perhaps others felt the same… the large restaurant was perhaps a tenth full on a Saturday night, not a fate suffered by the other eateries who shared the same view across the bay to the monumental edifice of Marina Sands. Maybe, apart from the quality of the food, the rather dated live music put them off – I know we felt somewhat relieved when the trio took a break.
To me it seems like a missed opportunity. The transformation and interior design of the historic landing hall with its elegant proportions, enormous lanterns and art deco touches was outstanding. There were also many charming touches, such as the illustrations on the menu and the design of the name cards – the food and its execution just needs to live up to its surroundings.
The Clifford Pier, The Fullerton Bay Hotel, 80 Collyer Quay,Singapore 049326 – Tel (+65) 6597 5266
P.S. Perhaps as a venue it might come into its own at breakfast. It is close enough to the business district for ‘The Unconstrained’ to try it out for a business breakfast. But for the coeliacs amongst us, unless you want a simple cup of coffee in wonderful surroundings, I’d suggest giving that a miss.