Since her last visit, the gal finds much has changed at the mammoth FRHI structure that dominates Singapore’s City Hall area. Yes, it is still the conjoined Fairmont and Swissôtels, above Raffles City mall and MRT station, and Tom Meyer is still the big hotel boss. But now FRHI is part of AccorHotels, and this complex of luxury hotels, namely Fairmont, Swissôtel and its sky-high Swissôtel Crest club floor, on floors 64 through 66, have gained Sofitel siblings in town, and another big change is that Jaan restaurant, on top of the 70-floor (741 feet total, ground to rooftop) Swissôtel The Stamford, designed by architect I.M. Pei, has gained a Michelin star. Oh what a fun evening that dinner was promised to be, and it certainly was.
English chef Kirk Westaway, from Devon, apparently wanted to be a fireman when he was a little boy, but being colour blind was more than a bit of an obstacle. He is a really engaging character and, not surprisingly, he is a considerably creative culinarian. He proposed three eight-course menus, general, vegetarian and special, all with wine pairings. I went vegetarian but he still sent out pre-menu amuse, like the canapés – see his miniscule one-bit fish and chip baskets, his rabbit rolls and, at the rear, a brand holding foie gras-filled macaroons (even Pierre Hermé could not have bettered those). The highlight of my main meal, which started with organic beetroot, then heirloom tomatoes, was his soft-cooked organic hen’s egg, which arrived in a basket. See the video.
I do recommend staying here in the Stamford Crest club level, especially for the space and the 65th floor club lounge. The rooms are going to be upgraded but who cares about décor when you have amazing views, and the lovely Eddy Tan and her team of concierges to look after you? As always, I enjoyed going down to the main ground floor and looking at the modern Chinese art, especially in the Peacock Alley walkway through to Fairmont Singapore: although Stamford Crest has its own bijou gym, much appreciated by those who want total privacy, I wanted to get to the complex’s Willow Stream gym. I could have cut through at the sixth floor but I ended up going through Peacock Alley to get to the Fairmont’s elevators. Who cares about the extra walk when you pass such smile-inducing art as the piece at the top of this story (the two women are by Liu Chun Hai)?
A couple of hours later I passed the same enigmatic double-portrait enroute to breakfast in Prego, a restaurant that deserves a long-lasting plaque. This was one of Singapore’s first-ever genuine Italian restaurants. It had the best pasta in town, and certainly one of the best grilled rosemary chicken with mash that rivalled Joel Robuchon’s potato concoction but with a small fraction of that Frenchman’s butter. I still love Prego, one of the many highlights of this luxury hotels’ complex, but this was the first time I had breakfasted here. How lovely to see the buffet set among the hanging prosciutto and other trappings of a great lunch and dinner restaurant, and, as I hoped, the coffee was as good as any Italian barista should, and could, muster (memo for next visit, put breakfast at Prego on the list!).
Back to Jaan and its eggs – watch my video: