Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse at Raffles Hotel Singapore reimagines itself as a classy modern Italian bistro that’s made for date nights.
Some places are simply perfect for dreamy date nights; the recently revamped Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse is one of them. Few can argue against a location as iconic as the Raffles Hotel for a night out. And Italian food? Beloved by many, or at the very least, inoffensive to most.
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse was launched to little fanfare last year, right at the start of the pandemic that, for a while, crippled much of Singapore’s dining scene. Before that, what was the hotel’s original Bar & Billiard Room – where we attended many a Whisky Live – was for a while BBR by Alain Ducasse, the celebrated French chef’s first restaurant in Southeast Asia. The steakhouse then morphed into Osteria BBR, its Mediterranean offerings pivoting to a more modern Italian bent, but with an added focus on the Italian Riviera.
Osteria BBR’s fancy sprawling open-concept kitchen is helmed by Chef de Cuisine Francesco Soletti, a native of Napoli. Granted Napoli is a lot further south down the boot of Italy from the Italian Riviera, but that coastal influence shows in Soletti’s food.
Take for example the exquisite tartare of red prawn in the Tartar di Gambero Rosso di Mazara del Vallo, or the Crudo di Orata Marinato al Limoni di Amalfi with its beautifully marinated raw sea bream perfumed with the zest of Amalfi lemon. Is that sea spray we smell in these delicately composed dishes? Or are we just desperately wishing we were gallivanting along the Amalfi coast with our date?
The Spigola All’Acqua Pazza, of sea bass and clams in a light tomato broth, is a literal taste of the ocean. Soletti shows clever restraint here to let the freshness of the seafood shine, resulting in a dish that sounds simple but is really sublime. And like the true-blue Italian that he is, he doesn’t overcook the pasta in the Eliche di Gragnano. The perfectly al-dente spirals interplay with the juicy chunks of Maine lobster and squidgy roasted eggplant to offer a gastronomic playground of flavour and texture.
If your dining companion is more of a carnivore, the Carpaccio di Manzo is a must. This is flavourful 28-day dry-aged John Stone, with pistachio cream and buffalo ricotta adding a sensual creamy texture. And we can’t help glancing over to the next table when the couple’s 1.2kg Bistecca alla Fiorentina arrived. We can’t exactly vouch for how good it was, but based on the carnage they wreaked they did look like they enjoyed it. Pro tip: don’t order this on the first date.
For dessert we eschewed the customary tiramisu and panna cotta options and instead opted for the Baba al Limoncello. It’s an obvious Italian twist on the classic French rum baba, swopping out the usual rum for the lemon-based Italian liqueur instead. But we prefer the original.
Speaking of first dates – if an intimate dinner at Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse is too premature at this stage in your relationship, go anyway. There’s a splendid bar here, complete with an outdoor terrazzo for the ideal aperitivo hour and a less intimidating first date. It’s far too easy to get lost in conversation here over a good Classico or House-aged Negroni or three, or even better, if you come during Osteria BBR’s “Camparitivo” happy hour every day from 3-8pm some cocktails are just $16++ a pop.
And the night will still be young.
[Image credits: Raffles Singapore]
Osteria BBR by Alain Ducasse (Raffles Hotel Singapore)
Address 1 Beach Rd, Raffles Hotel Singapore Singapore 189673 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 9.45pm Thursdays to Mondays (restaurant), 12pm to 10pm Thursdays to Mondays (bar); closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays
Tel (65) 6412 1816