I’ve been in Singapore for a little while now (no longer ‘off the boat’ new, but not so established that I know where Serangoon is), but I haven’t been to nearly enough Sunday brunches in the city. My first was a tad flat and a case of bad planning all round – we went for the ‘views’ but got stuck in the corner, I wiped out at least two courses with excessive carbs and my four inch heels weren’t cut out for the buffet laps. I vowed to do better next time.
The opportunity came over National Day weekend and, well, it turns out that I’m pretty awesome at this brunching lark after all. It’s not just about rocking up and stuffing your face – there’s an art to it that I will gladly share (as long as you’re not one of ‘those’ who goes right to left when everyone else is going left to right). So here goes – how to make the most of brunch in 10 steps.
1. Prepare in advance
I know it’s tough in Singapore, but keep the evening before your brunch day free and eat something safe the evening before. Don’t make the mistake I did the first time and turn up after a big night out – I could only manage two glasses of free-flow champagne (my mother would disown me for failing to maximise on unlimited bubbles if she found out) and oysters were out of the question. This time, I noshed on salad at 7pm and was tucked up by 11pm, alcohol free and sufficiently prepped.
2. Follow a food-based recommendation
Be sure to choose a brunch that has been recommended for its amazing food above all else. Choosing the best view in town is all very well for a few minutes of initial ‘ahh’s, but you’re spending around $100 on grub and that should be the focus of your afternoon (tip: if you’ve got guests, spend $5 on gorgeous views up the Pinnacle@Duxton before heading to your venue).
A friend of mine had recently been to the newly opened at Lime at Parkroyal on Pickering and was practically dancing on the spot when she told me how great it was, so we booked a table for two. Which brings me onto my next point…
3. Choose your fellow diners wisely
Brunches are often big social occasions, but you want to be comfortable with whoever you’re stuffing your face with. Brunch etiquette is a minefield – are you supposed to wait until everyone has their first plates to start? Is it polite to synchronise your trips? Do you walk around with the others or is that a distraction to all involved? No, this time I brunched with my boyfriend alone – not for romantic reasons, but because we’ve been together long enough to ignore each other while focusing on food and finding pieces of lamb in our hair is not a problem.
4. Don’t be late
After one full lap of Lime’s huge buffet, I could see why my pal was jigging as she told me. I arrived bang on the start time at 12pm, with the full intention of eating methodically throughout the allotted time until 3pm – slow and steady wins the race when it comes to this sport (more on this below).
When you’re starving hungry, it’s easy to start piling the nearest food onto your plate and grabbing all sorts on your way back to the table. But buffets often have so much to offer that you need to prioritise and do a full culinary investigation before you begin.
Lime’s layout featured five buffet stations divided into even more sub-stations – some with ‘live chefs’ and others with ‘get stuck in spoons’ – all bursting with different options. Speaking generally, we’re talking baskets of delicate French pastries, a spread of all-things breakfast-y, inventive meat and seafood salads, steaming pots of posh soup (aka bisque), made-in-your-face sushi, shellfish you didn’t even know existed, hearty pasta, whipped-up-while-you-watch foie gras, creamy risotto, every type of meat in cooked in every single way, nine types of bread loaf, even more cheese, a fully-equipped ice cream station, fluffy cakes, warm desserts, macaroons and, oh God, a massive chocolate fountain.
After one slow rotation of peering at imaginative creations and ‘ooh’-ing to no one in particular, I looped back for a second stare before grabbing a plate (a very snazzy one with a fabulous lip for easy handling) and beginning my journey.
6. Opt for comfort over style
Ladies – flat shoes is the way forward. Even if you don’t start off in them, you might want to change into them after a few spins. And loose clothing is essential – you don’t want to be worrying about your food baby when there’s a chocolate fountain in the offing. Another fabulous thing I liked about Lime is that it combined comfort and style – Parkroyal on Pickering is one of the trendiest hotels in town, plus the restaurant’s tables were decked out with comfortable sofas that you can dreamily sink into between courses.
7. Target high value food
As much as I adore carbs, I didn’t pay $98++ (68++ without champers, folk) to bulk up on bread and potatoes at Lime. Oh no – a brunch day is all about stuffing yourself with the most expensive treats you can get your hands on. Whether you’re into lobster, foie gras, oysters, steak or sashimi, fill your tummy with the sort of food you wouldn’t normally splash out on. (OK, so I may have broken my own rules here – Lime has a chap that walks around with freshly baked pizza dripping with melted cheese while you eat. No one has that sort of restraint.)
8. Forget about conventional eating rules
When you’ve got the overwhelming choice of just about anything, it’s easy to go into your standard ‘salad starter, one main meat and cake for dessert’ rules. But brunches are a beautiful free-for-all – a lawless land where anything goes and no one passes judgment.
Here’s the dining routine I recommend: Fill one plate with tiny portions of whatever you like the look of the most – anything at all – return to your seat, eat it slowly, drink one glass of champagne and sit still for 10 minutes. Repeat. Work down through your preferred platters, until you feel comfortably full. The 10 minute pauses will both prevent you from arriving suddenly at the ‘I’m going to give birth’ stage, while enabling you to thoroughly enjoy the bubbles – Lime served crisp Pipers champagne, which wonderfully changed based on whatever food group I’d just devoured (and there were many).
I know the routine isn’t easy to start with – you think you’re so hungry that of course you’ll have room for everything. My instincts told me to leg it about like a cavewoman, filling my plate with a billion crab-filled cherry tomatoes, two steaks, a huge portion of fresh sea bass and a croissant, but what about the shredded duck salad, pork in red wine jus and fresh lobster I also had my eye on? And the Asian stir-fry, iced sushi station and Camembert cheese calling my name? I forced myself to work through them all slowly – promising myself I could always go back for seconds later.
9. Save room for dessert (no, even more than that)
Obviously, I didn’t make it back for seconds – I’m no fool. I needed to keep a good quarter of stomach freed up to maximise Lime’s sweet station. Dessert can be another four courses in itself and should also be addressed in the same ‘tiny portions of your faves, with 10 minute pauses and more bubbly’ manner.
I started at the ice cream station – the chance to squirt four different sauces over Haribo and chocolate button topped vanilla and strawberry ice cream was just too exciting. This was followed by a trip to the Lime-coloured (but not flavoured, fortunately) chocolate fountain – in which I submerged my recommended daily portion of fruit (who said brunches were unhealthy?) and less-recommended daily portion of marshmallows. I then attacked the cake and puddings in one go (walking was getting more laborious by this stage) – slithers of apple crumble, blueberry cheesecake, forest gateaux combined with hot bread pudding and warm banana and chocolate cake.
10. It’s not over until you’re the fat lady who’d throw up if you had to sing
If you’ve managed the above, then I’m not in a position to tell you what to do at this stage, because you are a brunch champion. But I would advise sticking around until closing – just in case your stomach has managed to shift the first course in time. And, you know what? At 2.55pm, I was able to allow myself some bread – tiny pieces of Lime’s array of loaves with equally tiny portions of cheese.
So there you have it – my guide to maximising brunch in Singapore. Go forth and get booking! You can check out more pics from my brunch at Lime below, plus head to the Parkroyal website for more information or to reserve a table. Feel free to print and laminate these steps and devalue whichever brunch you choose by keeping them in the middle of the table like some sort of lengthy, cheap looking menu.