Believe us when we say we’ve been waiting for SKAI to launch their weekend brunch since the contemporary grill opened in September last year on the 70thfloor of Swissôtel The Stamford. They do lunch; but it’s so much more indulgent to enjoy the naturally lit, expansive dining room and panoramic views of Singapore through the floor-to-ceiling windows over a two-hour boozy brunch with free flow champagne (and it’s Taittinger Brut Reserve NV, too) and cocktails.
Priced from $118++ per adult for unlimited plates of the a la carte brunch menu, soft beverages, and house wines – top up an additional $50++ for bubbles and tipples – there’s one seating on Saturday 12pm to 3pm and two seatings on Sunday (11.30am and 1.30pm).
Once your ears have gotten used to being 70 floors up and you’ve taken the time to admire the scenery and the minimalist interiors echoing Scandinavian and Japanese aesthetics, settle in and start off with SKAI’s sourdough with an earthy cep mushroom butter and a charcuterie board. The first hint that SKAI hasn’t gotten its brunch operations down pat is here, where our server used ‘pork’, ‘turkey’, and ’beef’ to introduce the cold cuts instead of the names of the cured meat. For the type of dining, it seemed a little unrefined and also skates over the intentions of the chef curating the charcuterie board.
The 15-plate strong brunch selection is split between Cold Plates, Hot Plates, and Dessert. The vegetarian dishes are the stars in the first section. The Cauliflower, Apple, Toasted Almonds, Black Truffle boasted a good roast on the florets and is a dish full of textures with syrup preserved mini apples and toasted almonds. Even more refreshing is the Burrata, Coriander, Green peas, Buckwheat– the creamy cheese rounds out the chlorophyll in the fresh peas and the pea and coriander puree. The buckwheat crumble adds a nice touch of nuttiness.
The platter of fresh Seafood on Ice, comprising of crabs, prawns, mussels, and clams, is a must-order for all seafood fans. We found the ginger-soy dressing too heavy on the ginger when we ordered the Yellowfin Tuna, Sesame, Edamame, Ginger for the first time; the aroma of the sesame and acidity of apple dices in the dish didn’t follow through the dish. The second order was great. There’s also the Wagyu beef tataki, Pickled Eryngii, Ponzu, but alas, the slices of beef were sliced too thinly to taste the sear on the outside.
Of the hot plates, more truffle goodness can be found in the comforting Wild Mushroom, Organic Egg, Sourdough Toast, which comes with generous shavings of the delicacy. The well-seasoned hand cut chips that come with the SKAI Steak are just an extra fry short of being addictive (they could be more crisp); at least the Ranger Valley striploin arrived with a good sear. Though the shellfish were plump and juicy, the BBQ Oyster, Kimchi Butter was served with some starchy in the kimchi butter, which overwhelmed any oceanic flavour. More disappointing was the under-seasoned and overcooked Black Cod Fish, though we wiped out that garlicky mash potato and sweet corn.
Before we get to dessert, the cocktails, courtesy of Beverage Manager Rusty Cerven, deserve a special mention. Brunchin’ Spritz is an aromatic take on the Aperol Spritz with kaffir-lime infused Aperol, bergamot puree, and Prosecco. The result? A perfumed tipple, not quite as bitter as the classic, that you’ll keep reaching for. There’s a great palate cleanser in the Singapore Sling slushie, made with pomegranate and pineapple, while the Breakfast Bellini goes well with the more robust dishes. The vodka in this cocktail is infused with toasted oats, dried apricots and honey via sous vide; all the flavours get expressed well after adding champagne. Try the most spirit-forward of the lot if you dare – the Banana Kingston, made with dark rum, Campari, sweet vermouth, and a 26% ABV banana liqueur (Tempus Fugit’s Crème de Banane).
Chef Koo Jee’s dessert menu keeps to simple and accessible flavours. The 2018 Singapore Pastry Cup winner served with a sweet Strawberry Shortcake Tart, Berry Sorbert and a savoury Chocolate Parfait, Earl Grey, Chocolate Honeycomb for those who love berries and chocolate respectively.
Our top pick, however, is the Pina Colada, Lemongrass. The deconstructed cocktail of coconut ice cream, coconut cream, pineapple, and a whiff of lemongrass makes for a refreshing finish to the gut-busting brunch.
Despite the hiccups in the food and service (we learnt that at the point of our visit they had just transitioned from doing a buffet line for cold plates to everything dish served a la minute), we honestly had a great time at SKAI.
The view is something one will never tire of, and the space – post overhaul from its Equinox days – is a lot more comfortable and uplifting to spend time in. And we have no doubt that the team at SKAI will sort out the inconsistencies during brunch service soon.
SKAI is located at Level 70, Swissôtel The Stamford, 2 Stamford Road, Singapore 178882, p. +65 6837 3322, e. firstname.lastname@example.org. Weekend brunch is available Saturday 12pm-3pm, Sunday (two seatings) 11.30am-3.30pm.