Halia at Raffles is all decked out for Christmas. For the festive season, they have rolled out a "Communal Feast Menu" that serves up to 4 guests and features over ten items and three side dishes (priced at $360++ per set, available til 25 Dec 2013). It's quite a lot of food, as you will see.
Communal dining is something Asians have done for a long time. Everyone partakes of the food placed in the middle for sharing. We value it because it helps people bond together.
And a table laden with food that keeps on coming is simply a celebration of abundance.
So we brought the family to try the feast. Plus it was Jolie's birthday (she turns six today). We thought we'd try dining out for once instead of celebrating at home as we usually do.
Turns out Halia at Raffles is quite kid-friendly. The waiter brought us coloring paper and materials. When you finish, they will put it up somewhere in the restaurant.
We started with the Chef's soup with bread basket. The soup may vary from time to time.
It was a Tomato Soup, drizzled with herb oil. Light-bodied, smooth and very tart. This soup really jolts the tastebuds and perks up the appetite.
Oh we loved the bread basket. It has half a dozen warm and toasty well-made pieces that were perfect companions to the soup.
Nadine surprised me by how well she took to the food. Yes, she of the fussy tastebuds. She loved the soup and bread. Later on she ate almost a bit of everything, including greens!
Prawn Cocktail - romaine lettuce, horseradish, lemon, piquant mayo
Oooh, this was spicy! The horseradish added serious kick to the piquant mayo. Good portion for four persons.
Brussels Sprouts, with dried iberico, spiced almonds, red onion and sesame
I also liked this, but felt it might not be enough to share if you have four big eaters. Then again, there's quite a few salads in this line-up.
Goat's cheese mousse with heirloom tomato, olive, brioche, wild honey
This looked so pretty. The goat cheese was not too strong, and was interestingly sweetish. The highlight? Definitely the heirloom tomatoes so naturally sweet and dense with flavour. They proved refreshing with the cheese.
Those are the starters. And now for the mains.
Yellowfin tuna loin (served rare), with smoked avocado, dried apricot, red pepper and orange
Thick slices of tuna really done just on the surface and still raw inside. And they built a garden right on top.
House smoked duck breast (Challans duck from France) with parsnip, chestnut, cabbage and redcurrant
Challans duck is a premium duck breed from France that reputedly tastes like steak. These have been lightly smoked with the skin just a bit crispy. I also like how the little details like the sliced chestnut actually contribute to the flavour contrast.
Turkey breast, chicken leg, bacon, brussels sprout, cranberry, puff pastry, thyme cream
It's hard to make turkey interesting, but they made the salted skin totally crisp and flat. Awesome treat. The meat wasn't too dry but the thyme cream helped to jazz it up.
Sous vide wagyu rump, with truffle mash, celery and carrot jus
This was tender and nicely seared but still pink in the centre. I forgot to ask where the wagyu is from, but tastes like it might be Australian beef. The smooth truffle mash is awesome.
The side dishes were a hit too. Well, two out of three.
Side dish (to die for): Potato fries, with piquant mayo and truffle aioli
Yes, I would willingly shorten my life for some of these! Divinely crisp, hot and perfectly salted. Amazingly light and not grease-laden. You just can't help reaching for more. The dipping sauces are also excellent - a gently spicy mayo, and a robust truffle aioli.
Side dish: green beans and portobello (awesome!)
I took this shot in a hurry - it just smelled so good, and the taste totally delivered. Beans and mushrooms sauteed in butter, garlic, salt, pepper and I don't know what else. This is almost our favourite of the lot! I would make this a main dish!
Side dish: feta, tomato, cucumber, mesclun
Well, it wasn't that this was bad - it was just that the other stuff was so stellar, this mesclun salad just paled in comparison. It's the "I have to eat my veges" motivation that makes you finish it. Love the tomatoes though. Beautifully sweet.
And now for dessert. We had originally wanted to adjourn somewhere for cake, but the meal took a while and we weren't sure what good cake there was nearby. So we secretly asked for a candle to go on the Christmas pudding.
The staff were so obliging; they not only gave us a candle but sang a happy birthday song for Jolie as they brought it out.
Birthday girl is very pleased!
Apart from the Christmas pudding, there was my kind of dessert! A selection of hard, soft and blue cheese (90g) with quince, chutney, housemade biscuit and lavosh. On the platter is Gorgonzola, Pont-l'Évêque and smoked cheddar. You will be quite full at this juncture, but nibble and savour this slowly over a good chat.
There are some festive drinks to go along with the Communal Feast menu too.
Mocktails - Candy Cane (left, S$12) and Santa's Hot Chocolate (right, S$10). One is cold, and one is hot. The Candy Cane is a bit sourish - it has Sweet n Sour, Angostura Bitters, Grenadine, Sprite and Mint Tea. Santa's hot drink is made with cocoa, milk, Grenadine and whipped cream.
The cocktails - we only tried one. White Christmas (S$18) is a concoction of Baileys, Kahlua, apricot brandy, milk and sugar syrup. The sprinkles make it look cute and festive, but also dangerously attractive to children. Haha. Fortunately, this is very mild.
We had a marvellous time. The food is good with stunning presentation, and the service exemplary.
The Christmas Communal Feast menu is available for order from now till 25 December 2013. Check out their other Christmas promotions here.
HALIA AT RAFFLES
#01-22/23, 1 Beach Road,
Tel: +65 9639 1148
Mon - Fri: 11:30am - 10:00pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 10:00am - 10:00pm
Thanks to FoodNews and Halia for the invitation!