We were invited to The Square, the in-house restaurant of the Novotel Clarke Quay, to try out their festive buffet (they have a regular buffet, but for the festive period till the new year, the buffet includes additional items like turkey, honey glazed ham, roast beef or lamb). A and I are generally not buffet people – we order/eat too much as it is, without needing any further incentive to stuff our faces. Also, we usually steer clear of the dishes in the covered hotel pans, since more often than not they’ve been sitting there a while and are usually overcooked.
The Square’s buffet definitely had some elements that didn’t fall into the aforesaid buffet trap – a slab of prosciutto with only a few slices shaved off at a time, some really good items at the carving station, and an a la minute risotto/pasta, laksa and mee siam station.
The prosciutto was pretty good, though the slices could’ve been shaved a little thinner to make them less tough and chewy. One of the other diners had the brilliant idea to take the rock melon pieces that were meant for the chocolate fountain, to pair with the prosciutto.
I passed on the fresh oysters and prawns, though they looked enticing, and made a beeline for the whole salmon. I think it was genius to have this in the cold section rather than as a hot dish. Because the platter was on a bed of ice, it didn’t run the risk of getting overcooked, which is all too common with salmon. I avoided the obvious tail portion and went straight for the oily belly. This was superb – surprisingly no fishiness at all even though it was the belly, and it was luxuriously fat and creamy.
There were two festive items at the carving station – a roast turkey, and a honey-glazed bone-in ham. The turkey was quite ordinary, but the ham was excellent – tender and juicy, not too salty and it had a glorious layer of glazed fat.
We didn't try their pasta, but their cheese risotto (with mushrooms and sundried tomatoes) was great, and I dare say better than quite a number of risottos that we’ve had in proper restaurants. The rice was perfectly cooked, it was nice and oozy, and had tons of flavour. The fact that it was topped with a heaping spoonful of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese freshly grated from a huge wheel probably didn't hurt.
I was less enamoured with the other a la minute items – the laksa and mee siam. Both were quite lackluster, especially the mee siam. The laksa was a bit better but that could also be because I added a big spoonful of sambal.
Because it’s currently the festive season, desserts are obviously Christmas-centric, so expect log cakes, Christmas puddings and pannetone. I’m not a huge fan of holiday desserts so I passed on all but a few bites of dessert, and had more cheese instead. Props to them for providing a jar of honey next to the cheeses. They also have a DIY ice kachang cart next to an ice cream cart, which I thought was a cool touch.
They have a lot more variety than what we’ve mentioned, but as I said, the hot entrees are really not our modus operandi for buffets, so we just went with what we knew we’d enjoy.
Very decent spread. The hams, satay and cheese risotto were great, but I'd skip the oysters. And the ice kachang machine was a winner, especially when combined with the ice cream they have.
All-in-all, it's pretty good value and worth it if you're in the area and in the mood for a buffet, but I wouldn't make a special trip down.
The Square Restaurant
177A River Valley Road
Level 7, Novotel Clarke Quay