For our trip to Singapore I wanted to treat my parents to afternoon tea for y'know, still taking their 28 year old daughter on holiday with them and because after the hustle and bustle of Vietnam we deserved to pay an extortionate amount for cake, sandwiches and civilised luxury.
I picked The Clifford Pier's afternoon tea for its nods to Singapore's culinary heritage. After all, we can have a traditional afternoon tea in London. Afternoon tea seems to work slightly differently in Singapore with many hotels doing a part-buffet-part-cake-stand type arrangement. Buffets are not usually my thing but I couldn't find a hotel that didn't have this set up.
After being somewhat messed around with making a reservation and having it changed and changed back twice, we arrived at 3pm sharp to be seated. The Clifford Pier is a beautiful venue - the views are great and it definitely didn't feel like the tea room of a London hotel. After being shown to our table we were rather abandoned by the staff - there seemed to be a large number of them milling around but no one seemed to be doing anything. We saw other diners serving themselves from a central buffet area but weren't sure if this was what we had booked or not - eventually we flagged down a passing waiter and ordered drinks and asked if we could help ourselves to the food as everyone else was doing!
The savoury options were very different to a British afternoon tea - being Asia many were pork-based which my family doesn't eat but we were used to this by now on this trip. You can revisit the buffet as many times as you like and I filled my plate with traditional chili crab bad, sardine finger sandwiches and crisp salad leaves which I had really missed in Vietnam (yes, this is a girl who goes on holiday and misses eating salad). The savoury options were great and were constantly replenished - the buffet system actually made it really easy to just pick what you wanted and it was great to see chefs preparing the rotis in front of us.
The sweets also had a Singapore influence - warm scones, plain and tropical, with hibiscus jam and kaya spread being my favourite. The array of cakes also took their inspiration from Singapore's culinary heritage - from Eurasian bakery influences to use of local ingredients. We had one large tier and one small tier between the three of us and everything could be replenished upon request. Some of the cakes were "unusual" as my mother put it but the padan Swiss roll was absolutely delicious and my favourite. After our initial teething problems with the service our teas were then regularly topped up, I tried an air bandung - a traditional chilled rose syrup milk which I think I liked because I like rosewater and palma violets but which was a bit like drinking perfume. At 4.45pm the last tea orders were taken - I got through a fair few pots of green tea which I always feel goes well with sweet offerings and my parents had their usual Earl Grey tea.
At around £30 per person it's a good value afternoon tea and one which offers something a little different from the usual. You definitely won't leave hungry due to the savoury buffet and top ups of cakes and although the service was a little patchy I enjoyed the setting and the experience a lot.
This list and good old Trip Advisor were hugely helpful in picking an afternoon tea - reading about tea and cakes is definitely the best sort of research!