April 10, 2016
We were invited to InterContinental’s revamped hotel restaurant, Ash & Elm, that is currently sitting slick in Olive Tree’s old spot. Ash & Elm has taken a bold step to set itself apart from its previous inhabitant.
Firstly, showcasing their respect for both quality and skills, they have installed 3 ‘culinary theatres’. Secondly, they have changed up boring hotel style buffets – classic breakfast buffet in the morning, semi-buffet in the afternoon and then transforms into a more modern concept ala carte.
Presenting the first culinary theatre, Ash & Elm’s Charcuterie and Cheese room.
Here, they show case their fine curated cheeses and cold cuts from the likes of Italy, France, Spain and more. To keep diners’ options new, they change up the selection of meats and cheeses.
They also provide a long row of condiments and antipastis to go with your cuts; fruits, crackers and sauces to go with your cheeses.With such an outstanding display, you’d expect them to make make their own cuts too. And indeed they do!
Ash & Elm cures some of the meats in house with one of the homemade options that day being Homemade Beef Pastrami.
Their second culinary theatre is the Wood-fired Oven.
Where they make their signature Flatbreads, Lasagna and more. Of course, they don’t just use any ordinary wood, Ash & Elm procures Jarrah Hardwood to give their dishes a more wholesome, smoky depth both taste and aroma.
The third culinary theatre is the Open Grill Kitchen which is equipped with a Charcoal Grill.
Pretty much the modern concept of dining as it is adapting an open concept kitchen into the restaurant. With no barriers but only navigable thin railed shelves to pass, diners can easily walk into the kitchen.
For breakfast buffet, guests can approach the chefs inside to request their for how they’d like their eggs. While for dinner the counters closest to the kitchen are turned into bar seats and patrons can sit there, watching the chefs in action.
We got the chance to try their semi-buffet which include a buffet for appetisers (including the Cheese & Charcuterie room) and desserts, accompanied by a chosen ala carte main from a choice of 5 at $48++. If you’re looking for something fast and light, you can also purely opt for the buffet that is only $38++.
These options are great for corporate lunches as they’re value for money, decent in quality and pretty fuss-free. Only the ala-carte requires choosing, there is no need for one to make a choice for appetiser or desserts etc. Also, if others prefer something lighter, they can simply just opt for buffet without ala carte.
The appetisers aren’t limited to cheese and cold cuts, there are also different types of salads, amuse bouche and soups.
Ash & Elm’s Executive Sous Chef, Phillipe Duc, was an instrumental figure in crafting the menu and of course the character of the restaurant. He aided the restaurant to distinguish themselves from other hotel restaurants and of course Olive Branch.
From other esteemed reviews, the complete ala-carte menu for dinner is well thought out in taste, presentation and display of their skills. Also putting their 3 culinary theatres to good use.
The cheese and cold cuts were great. Enjoyed the duck rilette and cured lomo. Despite being a buffet, the accompaniments/pairings for their sourced cheeses and meats were not varied and bountiful. That particular room shone of effort and meticulousness.
Fans of Charcuterie and cheese, this is a nice place to get a quick fix (if you have some spare bucks in your pockets). If your client/boss/whatever loves cheese and wine, you know where to go for a business meal.
From 5 available main courses, we chose the Grilled Sea Perch in Crustacean Sauce and Mushroom Pasta.
The fish was grilled excellently, with the flesh flaking in juicy silky juicy chunks while the charred areas had a whiff of smokiness. The crustacean sauce drizzled over was rather exquisite, with deep rich flavours cooked from the shells.
Pasta smelt richly of mushroom, onions, capsicum and herbs but the intense aroma belied its taste. The pasta tasted too lightly of tomato and herbs. It could definitely do with more flavour.
On to the gorgeous rows of desserts, lined and iced with precision, they were literally eye candies. Apart from a standard dessert table and chocolate fondue, they also have a live crepe station, complete with standard toppings and quality ice creams.
While the desserts absolutely pleasing to the eyes they could leave more pleasure on one’s palate. Amongst so many, the most memorable one was probably their mini lemon meringue tarts.
The service was great, and the place, immaculate, suitable for both casual and formal meals.
Wouldn’t come back for the buffet lunch until perhaps the desserts are improved, but from their ala carte menu and the positive feedback from other reviewers, I would like to give their dinner a try.
After all, you know Ash & Elm is in good hands when their executive chef contributed largely to his past workplace, SPOON by Alain Ducasse at InterContinental Hong Kong, gaining accolades of 2 Michelin stars and Miele’s Top 50 Restaurants in Asia 2011/2012. So despite my less than desired first experience here, Ash & Elm might be worth a second try based on the chef’s history.
Expected Damage: $38++ / $48++ (Lunch Semi-Buffet)