Fine Dining

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Fine-Dining @ Pollen, Gardens by the Bay.
Fine-Dining @ Pollen, Gardens by the Bay.
As an epicurean, one of my pleasures is in the realm of fine dining. What you do not know, is that I often take my time to enjoy a fine dining meal. For years, I have contemplated on starting a fine dining blog but never found the strength to do so, given the busy life I have. As I have started to collect the memories of my fine experiences, my interest to ignite this interest to writing about it has returned. Hence I am going to start really small, and dedicate part of my time here to write about my journey in fine-dining. Here is a summary of how I am going to approach this as a fine-dining critic.

My Principles as a critic on Fine-Dining

The story on how I enjoyed fine dining started from my time living in the United Kingdom. My aunt and uncle who are fine connoisseurs of food and art, have brought me to interesting eateries and art museums every time when I visited London. When I returned to Singapore in the year of 2005 where the private wealth in Singapore is in its beginnings, the same is with the fine dining industry. I expressed my frustration in the early days, where the service standards and ambience were in no way that matched what I have seen in London, New York and Paris.

An_assortment_of_meats_in_Pollen_@_Gardens_by_the_Bay_for_my_wife's_birthday._at_Pollen
Photo: An assortment of meats in a freezer in Pollen Restaurant, Gardens by the Bay

That’s why I have decided to write about this. Fine dining is not just about the food, as I have seen from many reviews in Asia. To me, fine-dining is about the brand and the experience. From the call to have your booking in the restaurant to the moment you leave the restaurant after paying the bill, it is the sum of the collective experience. The experience is similar to how the fashion writers look at brands. Hence the style I take to write will be very different from what you have seen in the market. It’s a different perspective from someone who have seen the real experience out there.

As the years go by, I see more and more of these places spawning out in the small island of Singapore with specific themes and focus on specific cuisines. I have thought of a few ideas on how I can go about doing this, and I might implement them if there is significant audience to join me with my adventures in fine dining.


Valentine's Day Menu in Garibaldi Italian Restaurant, Singapore
Photo: The Valentine’s Day menu in Garibaldi Restaurant, Singapore.

Here are my principles on writing about fine-dining:

  • I am paying for my food and I am not expecting freebies: I write this out of my passion of enjoying the finer things in life. The independence and integrity of my reviews are important to me, similar to how I have written articles on other subjects from entrepreneurship to social-political issues. Even if I become known as a fine-dining critic, the restaurant has to take my credit card and the full bill with no discounts.
  • My focus is on the experience, not just the food: Even if it is a Michelin starred restaurants with famous chefs, the food is only part of the experience which I will review on. I am going to nail the service standards, the way how the wine is served to how long I have to wait for the bill. You can bet that I am going to look at the wine being served and the way how it’s being served. As I have worked as a bartender when I was in UK, it’s hard to hoodwink me if the waiter is doing it wrongly. That’s what I am paying for and I expect excellent service standards above everywhere else
  • Multiple Visits: One visit is not enough and adopting the agile methodology in technology, I see it as a continuous set of iterative steps to look at the restaurant. Hence multiple visits to the same restaurant will sharpen my view and also I will order a diverse range of dishes or order the full menu to get a sense of the food there.

Of course, I will add on more as I built up my fine-dining reviews. For the restaurant owners, please note that I am not out to get your restaurant and you. I hope that my review can help to improve your service standards and customer experience. Hence, I will be fair to you if that is improved upon my next visit to your restaurant.

Author’s Note: You can check out my collection of fine-dining food photos.

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Bernard Leong

A Pragmatic Idealist