Beyond the thick scents of singed fat and smoke-laced beef is an upscale chophouse that delivers far more than its meaty specials.
Think of a meat restaurant and chances are, you’ll picture a machismo steakhouse of yesteryear complete with drab hardwood-and-leather interiors. At Butcher’s Block, while the wood panelling and leather banquettes are kept dark and masculine, the cobalt blue walls are bold and contemporary, and, juxtaposed against the white tufted armchairs, remind you that this is no ordinary steakhouse.
Chef Remy Lefebvre heads the kitchen with years of experience honed in Qatar, Spain and Grand Cayman. We’re told his marriage to his Lebanese wife has influenced his use of ingredients and spices — go in on the food and this makes perfect sense. Everything is liberally and perfectly seasoned coupled with distinct flavours and aromas, seared deep into the proteins, achieved from ageing, curing, fermenting and wood fire cooking techniques of grilling, smoking and slow-cooking.
This culinary prowess is captured in a well-rounded and recently expanded weekend lunch menu.
Available from 12pm to 2:30pm on Saturdays and Sundays, it’s best enjoyed with a wine pairing. Butcher’s Block is home to The Library that houses over 200 wines, of which many are natural. Blind Corner’s Petilant, a sparkling pet-nat, goes down easy with a trio of seafood starters. If you’re still groggy from sleep, the Scallop Crudo, served with sea urchin and eaten with shards of a poppadum-like cracker, packs a sharp wallop of heat with the harbanero sauce. The razor clams, perked up with a lime and piquant thai basil salsa verde, stuns alongside the anchovies de léscala served with roasted Palermo pepper and piparra, which are long green peppers from Basque Country.
The tostadas is an unexpected addition and a lunch highlight. Although the shells are crisp, they hold up under the weight of the toppings. Start with the wholesome avocado and corn, before you chow down on the shrimps and peppery cholula dressing to leave your tastebuds tingling. The octopus barbeque, with its tender flesh and charred bits, is a unanimous favourite. All three go down easy with Katogi Averoff’s Inima Athiri Assyrtiko, a dry Greek white wine with a crisp mouthfeel and a light acidity.
The mains are likewise delicious affairs. The classic cheeseburger is jazzed up with garum, a fermented fish sauce for a heady dose of umami. Sandwiched between soft brioche buns, it’s served with a tangy tamarind sauce and fries that had us all reaching for more. The fried chicken leaves us speechless for a good while. Battered and wonderfully juicy, they come with house-cut pickles and creamy yeast mayonnaise.
Of course, the pièce de résistance is rightly the Cote de Bouef. The grass-fed, 28-day dry aged beef from Ireland yields seamlessly to our knives, its thick and subtly sweet and smoky flesh hitting all the right notes with accompanying pepper and salsa condiments and the juicy red cherry notes of the Vignamaggi oTerre di Prenzano Chianti Classico 2016 wine.
You’ll be clutching your stomachs by now but save space for the curiously named This Is Not A Creme Brulee, a deconstructed take on the dessert with lemon sorbet and orange zest.
Butcher’s Block, #02-02 to #02-07, Raffles Arcade, 328 North Bridge Road, Singapore 188719
All images are courtesy of Raffles Hotel Singapore