My usual dining companions and I went to Blu on the 24th floor of the Shangri La Hotel to try their $139 +++ Challenge dinner on Saturday, Oct 10. If the diner got all the ingredients right from the tasting menu of six courses in a multiple choice quiz, he/she got to dine free.
The date wasn’t chosen because of any auspicious connotations but because that’s the Saturday when everyone of the regular group was free and more importantly, for four of the much travelling members, everyone was in town.
I must say rightaway that the six courses we had (seven if we included the cotton candy tree at the end of the meal which came with the chef’s compliments; and eight for me, as I had a different menu from the others; explanations in the post after next) were well worth the money, in taste and presentation.
The service was also on the better side of good.
But let me also register some negative points, as starters.
Although we booked for a table for six some 10 days or so be4 the actual dinner, we were informed only late in the afternoon of 10/10 that Blu cldn’t give us a table at the window. The person who called said they just wanted to be “upfront” with us.
Hello, with such short notice, what else could we say but with gritting teeth that we would accept, adding “how so we don’t get a table at the window when we booked long ago?”
“Because we don’t have a table for six at the window. The space doesn’t allow it; it will be too tight; uncomfortable…”
Now, I wonder why we weren’t told all this right at the time we booked? It probably won’t have made any difference but the fact that we were left with Hobson’s choice at the last moment didn’t feel good.
The next piece of “displeasure” was when we were dallying at the cocktail lounge, enjoying the night lights and pre-dinner drinks. All of us had arrived be4 7.30pm (that’s the time we booked) and it might have been a bit after that, but we were chased –not once but twice to get to our table– as the restaurant was quite full and we were having the Challenge menu. Something to do with the fact that the chef had to cook in batches, whatever.
All of us are reasonable pple, so after a couple of under-breath mutterings, we went kwai-kwai to our table. Although we would have preferred to linger a little longer over our drinks.
The next frown-making incident was when we asked for water — PUB water, as one of us put it– we were served Evian. This was despite the fact that one of us pointed out again to the waiter, as he poured, that we wanted plain tap water. But too late to reject, as some of us had begun sipping the water in our glasses. In any case, the waiter made no response.
Later, when we were settling the bill, we checked whether we were charged for the Evian. Indeed we were. $38 for 330ml!! Something that Sparklette who has compiled a list of restaurants that don’t serve water might like to take note of!
But because we generally had a good evening — even after TK was given a sticky dirty fork that he had to ask for it to be changed — we were loath to kick up a fuss and end the gathering on a sour note.
Yes, even after we discovered that the martinis with canned lichi that five of us had cost $120 (before SV + GST). It’s Shangri La after all.
And the curious thing about the prices was that we had a very decent bottle of Argentinian Shiraz that cost just $120 +++!
Finally, the most curious thing was that the five who took the Challenge (I didn’t because I had a slightly different menu), the person who didn’t cook scored 79 points — the highest at Blu for that night according to Chef Kevin Cherkas — while the person who cooked for us regularly scored only 50 points.
For the Blu record: the chef said no one had had scored 100% and won the complimentary dinner as of the date of our dining. The Challenge is on till Dec 31!