I always find it difficult to reply when people ask me about buffets in Singapore, as they always bring to mind tasteless, overcooked food languishing in sterile, stainless steel containers, kept lukewarm with little tealights. That depends, however, on the kind of buffets one is talking about, as these days buffets are becoming increasingly sophisticated.
One of the more delicious buffets is that offered by Basilico, an Italian restaurant at Regent Hotel, just off Orchard Road, and which boasts outstanding ratings on Tripadvisor.com, with reviewers lauding the excellent service, as well as the quality of food on offer.
The hotel itself is quite beautiful: light streams in constantly, bannisters and hallways criss-cross each other, creating a palatial effect as you ascend spiral staircases, above gleaming salmon marble flooring that winks up at you. I can well see why I would want to stay here if I was on vacation.
Basilico is an oddly-shaped restaurant, as the main food hall is circular, and a number of alcoves are attached, where the bulk of the diners are seated to enjoy their meals.
The food on display is, unsurprisingly, mainly Italian, although there was a station which served, rather incongruously, fried man tous and roast duck, among other Chinese foodstuffs.
At the grill station, you can have grilled chicken, grilled fish, grilled beef, grilled vegetables... basically anything that can be grilled or spit-roasted.
Honestly, who can resist morsels like these? Generous chunks of beef, warmed through by the cheery Le Creuset griddle they are resting on, and bearing their grill marks proudly, as if they were battlescars on old war veterans.
There is, of course, a pasta station, where your orders are cooked a la minute. The sauces and pastas are on display are rather limited, but the chefs will be happy to entertain special requests, within reason (i.e. aglio olio is certainly possible, but perhaps not vongole).
No self-respecting Italian buffet would be complete without Italian cold meats, and Basilico does not disappoint with a spread of motardella, salami, and prosciutto. Next to this was a tray of sliced heirloom tomatoes, surrounded by burrata on the left and mozzarella on the right: basically you get to create your own caprese salad, with very enjoyable results.
And if all that meat isn't enough for you, there is a salad table, where you're spoilt for choice amidst the roast duck salad, the mushroom salad, arugula leaves and other vegetarian options.
The dessert counter (in fact all the food counters) is a lot more extensive than what I've managed to photograph here, as at some point one of the staff told me that photography was not allowed without prior arrangement, but there is an assortment of temptations such as fig mousse, chocolate shooters, and gelato.
If sweet desserts are not quite your thing, there are a number of lovely cheeses on display, from the salty parmiggiano, to the more unusual fiore sardo (a type of pecorino). Of course, the usual accompaniments such as honey, grapes, and quince paste were available too.
For those who enjoy a big meal, Basilico is a good choice, for there's plenty of food available, much of it freshly cooked, sliced or tossed, so that there's no chance that you end up with a soggy, scraggly, sorry-looking meal. Basilico's convenient location on the outskirts of Orchard Road also mean that you can shop off the post-lunch stupor.
1 Cuscaden Road
Level 2, The Regent Singapore
Tel: +65 6725 3232