Thankfully, the Savoy’s boutique brunch is back to rescue us from Sundays spent sleeping off the aching guilt of our own gluttony. In a departure from the all-you-can-stuff-down smorgasbords touted by other hotels, the menu offers unlimited tapas-style appetisers with a main course, dessert, and the now-customary free flow of wine, beer and soft drinks.
A server advises my guest and me to order four or five appetisers between us. “They’re small,” she says. “Very small,” she adds. “Too small,” she continues, in an ominous linguistic slip. Given the opportunity to order as many dishes as we like, our natural human response is of course to order 12 of everything on the menu. Something about having to verbalise our greed, however, makes it feel decidedly uncouth. Quashed by the weight of social expectation, we stick with five
As it turns out, “very small” was right on the mark – our appetisers arrive on five doll’s-tea-party-sized dishes. Thankfully when the food is this good, size doesn’t matter. Among the stand-out flavours are the salmon tartare, which is light, fresh and refreshingly un-tampered with, and the steak tartare, seasoned with capers and cornichons – a delightfully balanced and tasty iteration of the classic dish. The indubitable star of the menu, however, is the chicken liver parfait – rich and smooth and served with a mouth-watering shallot confit. To hell with etiquette: Take my advice and order gallons of the stuff.
After these five glorious bites, things start to go a bit off-piste. The so-called “Sunday Roast”, which arrives without even a whiff of a potato, is disappointing. The bearnaise sauce is a limp substitute for gravy, and the slab of beef is so tough that I feel a pang of annar for the poor US cow that gave its life for it. Unable to cut through it, I send it back to the kitchen. The flaky seared salmon with stuffed squid I choose to replace it is not unpleasing. But it is not mind-blowing either.
Sadly, my dessert doesn’t fare much better. The apple crumble with vanilla sauce is not served with vanilla sauce at all, but with chocolate ice cream. I mean, really? I ask the waitress what happened and she promptly whisks my plate away, only to return it with vanilla ice cream instead. It’s better, but with the sickly sugar crumble it’s still tooth-achingly sweet. Happily, the passion fruit cheesecake is zesty, light and delicious – go for that one instead.
Despite a few teething problems, there’s something about Savoy’s brunch that makes it feel just right. The service is outstanding, if a bit confused (we are asked for our dessert order three times), and the staff catered to all of my picky requests. The wine, which is excellent, was kept generously topped up too: Unlike at some “free-flow” brunches, you don’t have to face the shame of ordering your 17th glass. Providing you don’t skimp on appetisers, if you’re looking to spend US$31 per head it’s not a bad bang for your buck.
Most importantly, the atmosphere is lively, the brunch long and lazy, and the elegant Kipling restaurant has a touch of special occasion about it. There’s no doubt about it – this is the way brunch should be.
Heck, even my mother would approve.