After a brief hiatus brought about by the pandemic, Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse â€“ previously a Mediterranean-inspired bar and grill â€“ is back with a brand-new, gourmet adventure.
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse occupies the historic Bar & Billiard Room (BBR), a space that was first established in Raffles Hotel Singapore in 1896. Today, the social space retains its name and iconic floor tiles, but has been outfitted with tall glass windows that flood the interiors during the day.
Tasked with bringing Ducasseâ€™s gastronomic vision to life is head chef Francesco Soletti, an Italian native whose impressive repertoire spans a decadeâ€™s worth of culinary experience. Soletti has sharpened his knives at numerous Michelin-star restaurants, including his mentorâ€™s three-Michelin-star Le Louis XV – Alain Ducasse Ă l’HĂ´tel de Paris Restaurant, and draws on his own Italian heritage and expertise to develop a produce-driven, and distinctively Italian, menu.
The tasting menu I had was a love letter to the Italian Riveria, where every dish was bright and cheery, evoking feel-good summer vibes.
My lunch started well with a slice of roasted zucchini sandwiched between two slices of Marinated mackerel; a very savoury number to kickstart the afternoon.
Then came the Mazara del Vallo Red Prawn Tartare, presented to look like a flower floating in â€śsoupâ€ť, and topped with a generous scoop of Kristal caviar. But that â€śsoupâ€ť was actually a delicate jelly, and hidden in the centre was creamy buffallo mozzeralla. Apparently, Ducasse created this dish to celebrate his 25th anniversary in the restaurant business.
I noticed seafood features heavily on the tasting menu, probably reflecting Solettiâ€™s fondness of his native Naples, famed for its fresh seafood due to its close proximity to the sea. So it was no surprise when the Marinated sea bream came next, where in another glass bowl daintily sat luscious slices of fish that were uplifted with the zestiness of Amalfi lemons.
Next up was an artful plate of 28-day dry-aged beef carpaccio, finished with an intense beef jus. Just as I was wondering if I was going to have a chance to taste Solettiâ€™s pasta, a gorgeous bowl of Eliche di Gragnano â€“ pasta from Gragnano accompanied by chunks of Maine lobster â€“ arrived. A moreish roasted eggplant sauce was drizzled carefully over the toothsome pasta, which was captured well thanks to its large, spiral shape.
For dessert, I was treated to Osteria BBRâ€™s signature baba that was dashed with a gigantic bottle of limoncello, and topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream.
Most of these dishes are included in Menu Tentazioni (S$108++; US$80++), a tasting list that showcases Osteria BBRâ€™s seven signature creations.
Over at the bar, guests will find a curated selection of Italian cocktails such as Tempesta Siciliana, House-aged Negroni, and Alba Rossa, Osteria BBRâ€™s twist on the classic Aperol Spritz that is perfect for our humid weather. A diverse lineup of Italian vino offered by the glass rounds off the tipple list.
Italian bar bites are also on offer â€“ think Genovese Pesto Tigelle, an Italian bread filled with arugula, Parmesan cheese, tomato confit and anchovies; as well as Pizza Fritta Montanara, deep-fried pizza dough topped with slow-cooked tomato, buffalo mozzarella, 36-month aged Parmesan and basil.
Osteria BBR features a high-ceiling, resulting in a bright and airy space. It is ideal for social events, ranging from standing cocktail parties, to intimate company dinners.
The space is able to hold up to 152 people (indoor and al fresco tables), while the bar can hold up to 45 pax. Subject to Covid-19 rules, these numbers may differ so it is best to check with the restaurant.
To book out the space, lunch starts from S$12,000+++, while dinner starts from S$20,000+++. A whole day buy-out is also possible. Osteria BBR is also able to cater to dietary needs, so planners can rest easy.
Being in the centre of town, the restaurant is also a great formal spot for quick business luncheons, where diners can choose from set luncheons of two- (S$36++) or three-courses (S$42++). If a tipple or more dishes are needed, simply ask for the extensive a la carte menu which offers more delectable antipasti, freshly-cooked pastas and wood-fired pizzas.
While staff are dressed in blue navy suits, they go about their activities in a more sensible, comfortable footwear â€“ sneakers â€“ which goes to show that the luxury hotel doesnâ€™t mind injecting a bit of fun while still providing a refined experience.
Staff members were attentive and polite, and took the time to explain each dish as it was served to us, as well as answer any queries I had.