It has been quite some time since my family had a buffet together and after hearing raving reviews from a few of our relatives and friends, we decided to pay a visit to Conrad Centennial Hotel’s Oscar’s Café & Terrace for their Sunday brunch buffet. Located right opposite Suntec City and beside Millenia Walk, the renowned restaurant is known for the fine quality of her semi- buffet spread offered.
I must admit that upon entering the restaurant, I had expected the spread to be more extensive as it was considerably limited as compared to those found elsewhere. As we were having their Sunday brunch semi- buffet, Oscar’s Cafe & Terrace offered a range of six exquisite main dishes that were prepared and cooked ala-minute. There were a few other Noodle creations such as Prawn Mee and Laksa that were also on offer. Clam Chowder was also served by a waiter moving around the restaurant, in a push trolley with his pot of soup settled a top.
There was an obvious classy and contemporary touch to the setting at Oscar’s Café & Terrace. The establishment of high ceilings, pillars and the use of mirrors sure made the venue appear to be both grand and spacious, while the flowers and plants that were placed on the tables and other various corners were definitely appealing to the eyes. As it was a bright late morning/ afternoon, it was a treat for us for the luminous sun ray beams that escaped through the glass panes, caused the interior dining venue to be bathed in a warm orange glow.
A reasonable selection of live seafood standards consisting of Mussels, Crabs, Crayfish and so on, I was actually more impressed by their variety of Oysters offered in a separate section. As based on one’s personal preference, I found the Sauvage Hermelies Wild Oysters and Fine de Claire No. 3; both from France, to be a tad too salty for my own liking. I had taken the most pleasure in the Loch Fyne (Scotland) because of how fresh and sweet they tasted while the Canadian Oysters appeared to be a crowd-pleaser with the other diners. Anyway, all the seafood items were fresh but I had particularly enjoyed the Prawns and Crayfish because of their especially sweet and moist crustacean flesh.
The Cheese counter was a hit with the patrons too. Offering a Cheese galore along with their extensive assortment of accompaniments, I (just like how any other Cheese fanatic would) was obviously tempted by the usual favourite pairings of apricots, nuts, cranberries and thin wafer biscuits, together with the different kinds of Cheese served on the table. It would be even more ideal if there was a variety of bread to be offered alongside the cheese as well.
A meat- fest that is sure to satiate any carnivore, I thought that the Spring Chicken with Stuffing was one of the most memorable numbers from Oscar’s. My portion of the chicken was deliciously crisp- skinned and just a little greasy, while the hearty and scrumptious stuffing went perfect with the juicy meat. The Roasted Lamb Rack with Rosemary Sauce would please most people, especially for those who are not too fond of the distinct piquancy of lambs since it was not too overwhelming in Oscar’s execution of the dish. The meat fell off the bone easily, a portrayal of how delectably tender it was. The Roasted Prime Rib that was done slightly medium rare, fared considerably well too. On the other hand, the Brown Sauce that was supposed to be drizzled on the Roasted Prime Rib, ought to have been more flavourful for the extra punch as the final touch of the number.
A selection of side dishes to go along with the meat cuts was served as well. The Sauteed Broccoli with Almond Butter was cooked to the right doneness, retaining part of its original crunchiness while the Pasta, though simple in its ingredients, spelled comfort with its al-dente texture and accompanying hearty Tomato- based sauce. The Roasted Baby Potatoes were quite well-received as an important staple dish as well.
As conscientiously arranged by one of the chefs on duty, the Yu Sheng platter has constantly been one of my favourite traditional dishes during Chinese New Year since not only do I enjoy the custom of tossing the ingredients into the air while reciting those auspicious idioms, but I have always enjoyed how each constituent manage to provide a almost similar note in the mouth, with none being discordant. The Yu Sheng Platter surely did provide a savoury yet refreshing respite between the heavy dishes we had had during our buffet.
The appetizers were certainly not as outstanding as the other highlights found in the buffet. The Truffle Custed with Lobster and Caviar did not exactly appeal to my tastebuds and I left most of it untouched. The Szechuan Pepper and Gin Cured Salmon with Horseradish Creme Fraiche tasted mediocre and was pretty forgettable while the Tuna Tataki with Wasabi Espuma and Caviar was decent with its smooth texture and the right tinge of spiciness. My preferred appetizer of the four, I liked how the different meat flavours of the Chicken Roulade with Goose Liver and Port Wine Pearl complement with the subtle tinge of alcohol.
Upon passing by the mind-boggling array of salad ingredients, the humongous bowl (after finding out) that was entirely made of Parmesan Cheese, caught my eye. One of their signature offerings, the shavings of Parmesan cheese did add a heavier touch to the common- looking salad yet I must admit that I was even more fond of it in this way. Offering a plethora of flavours and textures, it is no wonder why I have heard that one cannot possibly not try Oscar’s salad corner.
A small variety of Japanese items; the Sashimi selection that comprised of Swordfish, Tuna, Salmon, Hokkigai and Kobia– I must admit, quelled my cravings for they were meltingly succulent. Of the perfect texture and thickness and each with its very own individual sweetness, I was able to taste the freshness in every bite. The assortment of Sushi morsels were not bad too, the fine grains of sticky rice went well with their respective generous highlights/ fillings.
One of the six main dishes from the menu that is served ala-minute, the Pan-seared Goose Liver was outshone by its accompanying Brioche Mille Feuille; the Foie Gras buckled easily to the knife but did not quite hit the spot in terms of taste. I thought that the Blackcurrent Jelly, Pickled Portobello and Olive served as nothing more than mere visual elements on the plate. The Grilled Scallop with Chorizo Caramel and Squid Ink Risotto was not only show-stopping, but also a clear winner of the entire buffet. Plump and chunky, the Grilled Scallops were settled a top the bed of Italian Grains, that managed to lock in the moisture and savour of the creamy and other-worldly Squid Ink gravy marvellously.
The Smoked Cod Fish with Sweet Potato Puree, Braised Endive and Vincotto Reduction was somewhat forgettable since the flavors came off to be quite muted. Texture wise, the Cod Fish was fork tender. The Braised Wagyu Short Rib with Moromi Miso aubergine relish, Cucumber and Mint Salad, with Horseradish and Potato Foam was however, my Dad’s favourite; so much so that we decided to order a second plate of it. The Braised Wagyu Short Rib was done so well that it turned out tender and drool-worthy and it certainly went well with the light and fluffy mash beneath it.
The chunks of Cured and Seared Duck Breast were kissed with smoke and char while providing plenty of bite. My parents found the meat to be a little too dry though I thought that it worked out decent for me. The Mixed Seafood with Chilli Crab and Mantou was quite memorable too. Not overpoweringly spicy, the luscious and rich sauce brimming with fresh and zingy flavours, consisted of fresh individual portions of Mussel, Crab, Prawn and so on. The gastronomical pleasure as derived from the Asian number went one up with its accompanying fried Mantou, that was dripped into the soul- satisfying sauce and finished in mere seconds.
Although the crunchy hazelnut praline of the Chocolate Royal Hazelnut Crust was gratifying, the chocolate mousse could have been more creamy and coagulated. The Chestnut Morello Cherry Mousse on the other hand, hit the right spot for me since it was creamy till the right extent yet not being too rich at the same time. In addition, the plump cherry bits accompanied the lush mousse to near perfection. Yet another offering in line with the Chinese New Year festival, the Orange Chiffon Cake was fluffy and airily light, with a strong hint of oranges.
Introducing a whole new spectrum of sin to the table, each bite off these addictive Chocolate truffles brought an explosion of flavour and crunchiness that was absolutely pleasing. Some of these rich delights were infused with alcohol, vanilla milk and green tea but all in all, a snack/dessert section that is another must-try.
The Chocolate Orange Panacotta came across to us as a concoction gone wrong as not only was the dessert too heavy on the palate, the overwhelmingly rich Chocolate and Orange flavours failed to come together in harmony. The Orange and Cherry Triffle fared better but it did not leave a significant enough impression. We liked the Pandan Panacotta best for it was light and luscious, and according to my parents, the addition of sweet corn had tugged on their heart strings.
Encased in a crunchy chocolate pastry shell, the Mixed Nuts Tartlet was full of nutty goodness and though as simple as they may sound, I would opine that it was one of the more scrumptious desserts among the others. The Blueberry Pistachio Financier was compact and crumbly, made to be even more pleasing with the satisfyingly tart blueberry and whipped cream slathered atop. The Brownies were surprisingly good as well- tight crumbed, moist and decadently rich, though they might be a little heavy after a few mouthfuls.
My Mom and I took utmost pleasure in the Dark Cherry and Orange Clafoutis as we found the sweet dessert to be pretty delightful in the form of its buttery mix of the two highlights, particularly the orangey zest. The fragrance of the dessert was further enhanced due to its warm temperature, causing it to be even more delectable. The other two family members begged to differ though.
The Vanilla Souffle was middling, it was a tad too airy and there was actually not much to savour over as we were having more of the ice-cream than the main highlight itself. The Vanilla extract (in the souffle) was no doubt, rather apparent but I thought that it was not exactly worthy of the fifteen to twenty minutes wait. The Waffles fared much better; even if had without their Ice-cream, which was actually what the chef at the counter recommended. Boasting a light crisp texture and a buttery sweet taste, these freshly prepared waffles could probably match those found in popular ice-cream cafes.
I thought that service was commendable; especially so when a few of the service staff were more than willing to accede to our special (demanding) requests of arranging the Yu Sheng Platter and tossing their signature Salad in the gigantic Parmesan bowl. However, I did concur with my parents that several waiters and waitresses could have been more friendly.
At the end of our meal, we realised that the spread was actually more than reasonable enough after all. Personally, I have always disliked how some restaurants emplace a huge emphasis on Asian numbers despite categorising their buffet as International and I was more than glad that Oscar’s was an exception. Most importantly, the talk about the fine quality of dishes and creations offered by Oscar’s was true for us as well. With a pleasant ambience, decent service and a remarkable spread, Conrad Centennial Hotel’ Oscar’s Café & Terrace is definitely worthy of one’s visit.
Oscar’s Café & Terrace
Conrad Centennial Hotel
2 Temasek Boulevard, Lobby Level
Contact Number: 6432 7481
Operating Hours and Prices (For Buffet Only):
Mondays till Fridays; Lunch- 12.00pm to 2.30pm ($52.00++)
Mondays till Thursdays; Dinner- 6.00pm to 10.00pm ($65.00++)
Fridays; Dinner- 6.00pm to 10.00pm ($78.00++)
Saturdays; Lunch- 12.00pm till 2.30pm ($58.00++)
Sundays; Brunch- 12.00pm till 3.00pm ($78.00++; $148.00++ with free flow of alcoholic beverages)
Saturdays and Sundays; Dinner- 6.00pm till 10.00pm ($78.00++)