*This was an invited food tasting session.
Situated within the Novotel hotel that has been part of the Clarke Quay landscape for probably at least a decade, The Square Restaurant also gives off a bit of an old school charm. The restaurant is situated in a spacious corner on Level 7 (which also houses the hotel reception and bar, Le Rouge) of the Novotel Clarke Quay, and was fairly quiet when I visited it for dinner recently on a Tuesday night.
The variety at the international dinner buffet is fairly startling, for the price and size of the restaurant. Having also recently visited the famed The Line buffet, this place definitely looked less impressive in terms of scale. But for the difference in price, I think The Square did a pretty good job in its line up of dishes and displays. And also, I actually liked the minimal walking distance to the food.
Priding itself as having interactive live stations, it had a local food (it was laksa and mee siam that day) station, a risotto station and some meat carving stations. I found it kind of strange that they chose to focus on that though, as live stations are quite common at hotel buffets and these weren’t really all that interactive anyway.
But I digress. The variety at The Square was pretty good – from fresh seafood (oysters, prawns, mussels, clams), Japanese cuisine (sashimi, sushi, wakame, pickled jellyfish and seasoned baby octopus), cold cuts and gammon ham, salads and cold appetizers, to carved meats, Chinese dishes, and a rather comprehensive range of Asian and Western desserts. Oh and of course, the live stations mentioned earlier.
I usually start with the fresh seafood and cold appetizers for such buffets, and was pleasantly surprised at the freshness of the rather plump oysters on display. These were creamy and juicy, very enjoyable. The prawns were good too, firm and sweet.
A selection of standard chicken, seafood, vegetable/fruit based cold appetizers were available as well (you can probably spot some from the pictures earlier) – I tried a few and they were alright. I’d probably save space for the other good stuff on offer!
Like the leg of gammon ham, the honey baked ham and the roast beef. These were done pretty well – the gammon was savoury and kind of tasted a bit like Iberico ham (which I absolutely adore), the honey baked ham was sufficiently sweet and moist, and the roast beef – oh this was good. Red inside and so tender, with juices flowing out. Delicious.
The Square is actually having a theme this quarter of ‘Are You Hot Enough?’, featuring a few special spicy dishes to titillate their guests’ taste buds. The three main dishes of this theme that day were the Spicy Pork (1 Chilli, a mark on the container that indicates level of heat), Fish in Cream Sauce (2 Chillies) and Chicken in Brown Sauce (3 Chillies). They also kindly provided some soya milk for those who cannot take spicy food (yet love the flavours and still want to eat these).
But I felt like they weren’t really spicy at all! Okay fine, I have a pretty high tolerance for spicy food. The Spicy Pork did have some kick though which was pretty good, though it was supposedly the least spicy of the lot. It was also quite tasty, fried with brinjals in some kind of tangy belachan type sauce. But perhaps the restaurant was being considerate to hotel guests who might not be able to handle too much spice – but they do provide additional condiments on the side for you to really heat up your dish.
Funnily enough, we found the mee siam and laksa (I didn’t try the latter but someone else at the table mentioned it) at the live stations spicier than those special dishes. The mee siam was quite nice though, tasting sufficiently sour and hot.
The laksa risotto (yes you read this right) was also a bit spicier than these three dishes. Quite an interesting dish, that had the soft and chewy texture of risotto rice, with the taste of rich coconut milk enriched laksa flavour. I liked it, though I didn’t have too much as it was quite filling. Another option was the cheese risotto – with a big wheel of cheese at the live station where they scrape off fresh shavings to garnish every time a bowl is ordered. This was alright and tasted of real cheese (not those overly processed types) but nothing particularly special flavour-wise.
However besides these, the rest of the local dishes (sambal sotong, ginger chicken etc) were pretty run-of-the-mill. I didn’t try the roast duck and chicken hanging at the live station though.
On the desserts front, The Square also offered a good variety of options for buffet-goers, from making your own ice kachang, to durian pengat, to ice cream, fresh fruits, an assortment of baked cakes and cookies, and even a chocolate fondue fountain.
The durian pengat was pretty good! Smooth and sweet, the paste packed a nice durian punch and was delightful to eat. Didn’t try the ice kachang though as I was pretty full and lazy to make it! And the ice cream… well, I’d say have the durian pengat and chocolate fondue coated marshmallows and fruits instead.
Didn’t really try many of the cakes and cookies displayed, but what I tried was okay. I liked the Chilli Chocolate Mousse that had a fresh piece of chilli on it – would recommend you have just the mousse without actually eating the fresh chilli though.
Check out (one of) my plate(s) of desserts!
And the chocolate fondue fountain, oh I enjoyed that. Chocolate fondue fountains aren’t all that uncommon at buffets these days, but I do appreciate it when a place has one, and especially when the chocolate is of good quality. The liquid chocolate from the fountain at The Square was rich and thick with flavour, and I very much liked eating the chocolate coated marshmallows and grapes. Pity there weren’t other types of fruits (I think there was papaya and honeydew too, but I didn’t really think that these fruits would go well with chocolate) to dip though – the little muffins on sticks just seemed a bit overkill on richness for me, especially the double chocolate chip ones.
Overall I felt that The Square Restaurant has done a good job with trying to keep things interesting for their customers, with unique flavours and themed meals. Tables filled with wondrous things like giant legs of ham or slab of beef, and the large chocolate fountain, also helped to make the experience a bit more exciting than usual. I also really enjoyed the rather fresh oysters bursting with juices.
The ambience and decor is pretty standard and fairly casual, suitable for large group gatherings or family outings.
Dinner would cost each person about $48++ on weekdays and $58++ on weekends, and they also offer Yu Sheng for CNY, if you’re looking for a place to eat tonight (same price of $48++). I believe there’s also a prosecco weekend brunch (available on both Saturdays and Sundays) available for $88++, which is actually quite a good price for free flow prosecco, Tiger beer, wine and fresh seafood!
Level 7, Novotel Singapore Clarke Quay
177A River Valley Road (bext to Liang Court)
Tel: 6338 3333
Open from 6am to 10am for breakfast, 12pm to 2.30pm for lunch, and 6pm to 10pm for dinner.