A short climb up a stairway on the right leads guests from the main road to a cosy outdoor terrace, past a patio with outdoor seating and straight to the entrance of The English House, Marco Pierre White’s first establishment in Asia that is perhaps best described as an elegantly plush “restaurant with rooms” concept championing modern British comfort foods.
It has taken the team more than three years to complete this unique offering, located at the heart of the Robertson Quay neighbourhood, that is housed within two painstakingly restored adjoining 19th-century conservation shophouses on Mohamed Sultan Road.
Combining classic English designs and Straits Chinese architecture, every detail has been meticulously and respectfully restored or replicated to ensure a seamless flow between the four distinct and interconnecting spaces of the heritage building.
White’s distinctly English vision, however, is evident the moment you step in, from the traditional British wooden reception bar in the entrance hall, framed by wood and wrought iron sculptures, to the stately main dining room that’s given a local touch with intimate low-top marble tables that honour Singaporeans’ love of old coffeeshops, and an eclectic mix of Terry O’Neill photographs and English carnival-themed sculptures. There are also quite a number of framed cartoons by Raymond "Jak" Jackson, one of White's favourite cartoonists.
“I let the beauty of the building dictate how we use the space. By allowing the historic architecture to speak for itself, it has allowed us to inspire the new,” says White, British gastronomy’s original enfant terrible in a statement released today.
“I have been to Singapore over 30 times in the past two-and-a-half years and walked down many streets to gain inspiration.”
That said, it is White’s believe in genuine value and unaffected food that is reflected in the menu at The English House. Helmed by chef de cuisine Andrew Bennett, who works closely with White across his group of companies in the UK, the kitchen aims to dish out authentic and generous renditions of English classics, such as Mr White’s Stuffed Cabbage in a fresh tomato sauce; and the Potted Scottish Salmon with Fennel served with a gelée of Vin d’Alsace and toasted sourdough.
Also on the menu is White’s elegant interpretation of the classic fish and chips—the decadent Fried Fillet of English Turbot paired with beef fat chips, marrow fat peas and tartare sauce.
Other elevated or modernised renditions of English classics include a shareable platter of Black Angus beef rib with braised spiced tendons, jus de viande, pomme fondant and buttered spinach.
Of course, it wouldn't be the best of English comfort foods without dishes like the Steak and Potato Pie, and Mr Lamb’s Shepherd’s Pie with buttered garden peas.
The cosy restaurant space can seat up to 150 diners. Taking up most of the first floor, it comprises three dining rooms, including a private room, and will welcome its first guests today.
The 18 rentable rooms, which are located on the second floor and the attic, are slated to be ready by the first quarter of 2019.
Though 56-year-old White no longer works behind stove, he appears to be a hands-on restaurateur. In fact, he plans be in town more than 10 times a year and for possibly a week each time, to oversee operations. And, no, he won’t be staying in one of the rooms, as he doesn’t want to deny anyone the chance to rent one, shared a spokesperson.
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