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    So enjoyable had my walk been, despite the wet, that I had no time to pause at the pub, but emerged back onto Orchard Road and headed off to rejoin the rest of my travelling companions.

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      Originally posted by Seagull View Post
      This is know as a "five foot way" in Singapore and was standard on all pre-war shop houses. Providing shadow on sunny days and shelter on rainy days.

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        Originally posted by ombugge View Post
        This is know as a "five foot way" in Singapore and was standard on all pre-war shop houses. Providing shadow on sunny days and shelter on rainy days.
        …and indeed the contrast in the weather between my walks in Little India in the hot sun and Emerald Hill Road in the rain enabled me to personally appreciate the benefits of this excellent arrangement!

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          Raffles Hotel

          It is much bigger than you might imagine, occupying much of a city block. The original hotel was built in 1887; the present main building dating from just over a decade later after which the hotel continued to expand with further additions and buildings, at least up to the difficult days of the 1930’s. Subsequently managing to survive the war years and beyond, major changes and extensive renovation took place at the end of the 1980’s (it had then become designated a national monument), reopening in 1991.

          An arcade complex of boutiques and shops set around courtyard gardens, a museum of the hotel’s history, and numerous restaurants and publicly accessible spaces occupy much of the site. Today it is as much “commercial space” and “tourist attraction” as grand hotel. The parallels with the newly built Marina Bay Sands Hotel in these respects fascinated me – such as in observing the relationship of hotel-guest and general-public areas. It so happened that circumstances occurred that, short of actually staying there, emphasised this.

          It was David’s birthday – well not exactly during our days in Singapore, but sufficiently close – and I had offered him a birthday treat of some sort; a special meal is usually appreciated. I can’t remember which of us first thought of Raffles, but (as we would be experiencing the most wonderfully authentic of Singapore Chinese in Ombugge’s company later, and before race circuit snacks took over our dining) I’d had in mind the Tiffin Room’s traditional curry buffet. These days though, David is rather cautious of curry, which he categorises as “best avoided” especially at times of changes in diet when travelling. And so, I eventually decided on and made a lunch reservation at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, Raffles Grill.

          I now realise that having established in conversation that we were not resident at the hotel, the taxi driver naturally took us to an entrance which is the usual dropping off place for tourists. Entering the Arcade complex there were many signs pointing the way to various function rooms and restaurants, but still after many minutes wandering, no mention of The Grill. Asking directions of shop and hotel staff initially sent us off in conflicting directions and without success. It was not that staff were unhelpful – far from it. A passing chambermaid abandoned her loaded trolley so as to personally escort us, only to end up at the Courtyard restaurant, and it was only after further enquiries, a phone call, and the summoning of a more senior member of staff to look after us that all became clear. The natural assumption is that the majority of tourists will be heading for the famous Long Bar and Steakhouse, or possibly the Tiffin or Courtyard restaurants. Even when we had been directed correctly, we would sooner or later have encountered a “hotel guests only” sign which had mistakenly deflected us off course.

          For the Grill is of course situated in the main residential building of the hotel!

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            So now we enter the imposing lobby:

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                I have to admit that I had not been expecting, even in a fine dining restaurant, quite the good standards we experienced at Raffles, for my plan to dine here had at the outset been as much about architecture and ambiance as food. To this end I had booked the earliest lunchtime available, and, declining aperitifs, we were first to be seated despite the delay in locating the restaurant. It makes it easier to take photographs without disturbing other diners, though I always take care to make known my genuine interest to staff, generally by referring to some known fact of the architecture or history, rather than simply asking if photography is allowed. Similarly I still refer to the son of a friend who was once studying cooking and hotel management, alluding to his presentation skills and my desire to show him photographs of food presentation to which he might aspire.

                In this case the service was satisfyingly correct and formal without being in the least pretentious, and the choices within the weekday “Set Executive Lunch” menu both matched our desires and were good value for dining at this level. They have a French chef, with whom we chatted at some length later, discussing sourcing of ingredients and so on. There is just the gentlest touch of the east in his classic-meets-modern style, from the subtleties of the dressing of the salmon roll amuse-bouche (no mere sprinkle of soy sauce!) to the gentlest hint of curry in the accompaniment to the cod. My rule of thumb, that I expect to spend a similar amount on the wine to the food, also held true, with, moreover, carefully considered and interesting offerings at the lowest priced end of the list.

                I had gone to Raffles expecting no more than “touristy, surviving on nostalgia for times past”, but when the maître d' assured me that should I return I would naturally be seated at “my” table, I could almost believe that would indeed be the case.

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