Andrew’s Birthday Celebration

Andrew: Celebrated my birthday early this year as Dear is expected to pop any time soon. As always, it’s a combination of staycation, food and shopping and this post shall be divided as such.

1. The Staycation @ Quincy Hotel

Andrew: We selected Quincy this time, for its location (5 minutes walk from Paragon or Far East Plaza) and range of activities over the weekend:

  • Art Jamming at 3pm
  • Movie under the Stars
  • All day drinks, snacks and Dean & Deluca pastries/cakes (note that it is advertised as “all day bites from Dean & Deluca”, which is not entirely accurate- only some items like the teas and cakes are from Dean & Deluca)
  • cocktails with canapes from 6-8.30pm
  • breakfast
  • entry for 2 to Butter Factory (hahaha)

Jasmine: Although the amenities sounded really impressive, the hotel and service were only adequate at best- we’ll be highlighting some lapses and AFIs (sorry for geekiness) if you read on.

Andrew: We didn’t know that we could only sign up for the activities if we were on the Qool weekend package. However, given Dearie’s condition, I don’t think we’d be up for all the activities. The Art Jamming was done outdoors at 3 p.m. and I’m sure Dear would have complained about the heat and the Movie Under the Stars was actually done in their pool area, with sofas and some couples sitting in floats on the pool watching the movie. Dear would have been very uncomfortable on that float! Heh. We planned our own itinerary and had a really great time!

Our Room  

We got a Deluxe Studio room, which had a decent view overlooking Orchard Road. We had stayed at smaller rooms before, like at ParkRoyal@Pickering (Jasmine: actually we got a free upgrade to the suite, dear, but it may have felt smaller coz the bedroom and living room could be sectioned off), but somehow this room lacked that cosy feel, which we felt the ParkRoyal room had, which really made you just want to hang out in the room and chill out for the whole day.

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Jasmine: A very modern room (perhaps too cold and impersonal for my tastes).    IMG_5977

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Jasmine: The bathroom- again, only ok by my standards- lacked the luxury finishings and double sink that I expect from a really good hotel.

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Jasmine: However, the bathroom did redeem itself somewhat by offering Molton Brown toiletries- the only other hotel I’ve seen offering Molton Brown is Fullerton Bay, albeit packaged even more classily there.

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Minibar and mini pantry.

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Andrew: Free snacks in the room, replenished daily. Dear, of course, seized the packet of Lays and finished it even before I knew it!

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Jasmine: The mini fridge also held several cans of soft drinks and mineral water which were free for the taking! Never made sense to me to charge exorbitant prices for basic snacks in hotel fridges which you can get at nearby supermarkets for a fraction of the price. So glad Quincy at least got this right!

On another note, I’m kinda tempted to put a bar fridge in my bedroom, and stock it with cold water, midnight snacks and icepacks!

Tea Time Snacks

Andrew: After taking some photos around the room, we headed down immediately for the tea-time snacks!

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Tea time snacks included free flow soft serve ice-cream with toppings, juices and canned drinks,hot drinks, dried fruits and nuts as well as pastries from Dean and Deluca. Honestly, we felt the Dean and Deluca bites were over-hyped. The chocolate-pecan pastry I had was rather dry, but the Lemon Pound Cake was good – cake was moist and each bite was full of lemon zest! I didn’t expect to like it, but I eventually finished off Dearie’s slice!

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The free flow soft serve was something that would definitely have been a hit with kids! However, there weren’t that many kids at this hotel – it’s definitely built itself more of a niche with couples. Nonetheless, Dear had a lot of fun making her own ice cream concoction below:

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Andrew: After our tea time snacks, we took a little stroll around the hotel and Dear was quite intrigued by these  ‘busts’ around the toilet.

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We also went upstairs to take a sneak peek at the Art Jamming classes through the gym window! They have quite a well fitted out gym – decent for such a small size and this floor is also where they have their infinity pool.

The gym and pool are open 24 hours, so it’s a real nice place to chill out. I went to the pool at 6.30 a.m. on Sunday just to have my quiet time and it was really serene and peaceful, lying on the very cosy benches, looking out at the skyline slowly turn bright as dawn broke. Had a real nice swim after that too.

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Evening Cocktails and Canapes

Andrew: Quincy is arguably one of the most blogged about hotels we’ve stayed it – there were pages upon pages of Google search results when we did our search and most had quite mixed reviews of the dinner. Food was decent, spread was good, but not stellar – so we went out for our own dinner (and shopping) which we will talk more about later!

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Came back around 7.45p.m. just for some post dinner snacking and was actually quite pleasantly surprised by the food. What was good was that they kept the selection of hot dishes small, but because of that, the dishes were replenished very often, hence you could easily get a freshly cooked batch of food every 10-15 min. We sat there for about 20 – 30 minutes and within that span, we had freshly cooked penne, Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and mussels in cream sauce! I quite liked the Vietnamese Chicken fried rice and had about 3 servings of it (yes, even after I had my dinner) – mushrooms were juicy and tasty, chicken chunks moist and well seasoned!

There was also a selection of cold cuts, cheeses, fruits and desserts.

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Along with our dinner, we each got a selection of a cocktail/mocktail. I had a Singapore Sling and Dear had a Qool Breeze mocktail!IMG_6011

As a nice touch, they had this bowl of chocolates right next to their main entrance, with a cute caption ‘There’s Always Room for Chocolates’ and free flow of mini Mars bars! Looks like free food is the theme of this restaurant and certainly a way to win guests over and keep them in the hotel. (Jasmine: The all-day bites are a good way to distinguish them from their competitors in the same price range, as it’s for all guests at Quincy, whereas you would have to pay extra for club privileges at other hotels to enjoy free flow snacks.)

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The breakfast spread

Breakfast spread was the usual continental spread with pasta (yes, it appears quite often in their menu, because Modestos is just next door, part of Elizabeth Hotel), scrambled eggs, chicken ragout, spring roll,  sausages and bacon.

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Along with the hot food, there was a spread of freshly cut fruits, yoghurts, nuts and dried fruits as well as juices, cheeses and breads! I have to say, I really really liked the bread they served!

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Specifically, I loved the raisin and orange peel loaf that you see on the top of the picture below. I put one slice through the toaster, tore of a bit and ate it and immediately, I was won over. The texture was so light and crispy, and the bread so fragrant and flavourful – went great with cream cheese or even on its own. I had 4 to 5 slices of that. (Think Dear and I wiped out about half of that loaf on our own). I asked the waiter where they got their breads from and they couldn’t answer me – I shall have to hunt down this loaf.

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This is Dear’s platter below! Didn’t get to take a picture of mine, because I was too busy eating.

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An area that we felt could be improved about Quincy was the service. It was adequate, but it didn’t have that extra mile that great hotels have, which I thought was a pity and not something that require much more ‘investment’ in terms of money (perhaps though, in the form of training). We would have appreciated if the waiter or manager could have helped us find out where the bread was sourced from, given that we had given it a positive review. That would have scored them some points! Also, we only realised later that we could order eggs freshly cooked from the kitchen, either sunny-side up or an omelette, but this was not highlighted to us.

When we had to shift table as it was too warm for Dear, the wait-staff didn’t come along to help us move our stuff, even though they were standing by and evidently quite available. When I was swimming, the hotel staff asked me if I would like them to remove the floats from the pool. Honestly, it didn’t bother me, but since they offered, I said okay. However, nobody came to remove them in the 1 hour that I was there. It’s not that we needed such pampering or attentive treatment, but it would have added to the experience. Which is why I said the service was adequate, but didn’t have that ‘extra mile’.

[Plus points for service recovery – they sent us an email today to ask for feedback and I pointed them to our blog entry. The Hotel Manager, Christina,  immediately responded to share that they were acting on our feedback and also, that the bread came from Swiss Treats! I even asked specifically which loaf was it that I liked so much and she told me it was Traditional French Brioche with Fruits. Shall go hunt that down at NEX!]

Sunday Afternoon Bites 

Andrew: Oh, and what I didn’t mention earlier was that our offer came with a late check-out at 4 p.m. – which gave us another opportunity to enjoy their afternoon bites. Even though we had a lunch booking at Gordon’s Grill, we just had to eat a bit of what they had. The spread was much more extensive than the day before, with laksa (made to order) on the menu and sandwiches!

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The Dean & Deluca spread was similar to the day before, with the addition of… Rainbow cake!

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I had paid $7 dollars before to eat this cake at their Orchard Central outlet, so just out of cheap thrill, I had to have a slice here, for free! I didn’t quite enjoy it the first time, but this second time where it was free, I must say it tasted better. Haha!

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All in all, it was a decent experience at Quincy. Facilities and food were decent enough, room could be improved and service definitely could have been improved. For the price we paid, we could have gotten a room with club privileges at Intercontinental Hotel, hence I would consider this rather pricey. Propose the hotel looks into improving its service and also providing a frequent shuttle into the heart of Orchard. They could also allow an on the day sign-up for their activities, because not all couples would want to do all the activities.

2. The Food!

Andrew: It seems like we’ve already blogged so much about food @ Quincy that I can’t imagine there’s a separate section on it. This section is on the meals we had that were not at the Quincy. Unlike other times where we could splurge on more expensive degustation menus, this time we went to more mid-range places, and interestingly, by coincidence, places that we had been to during our dating days, which did bring back good memories!

Day 1 Lunch: Hatched!

Andrew: So, before we checked in, we dropped by Hatched at Evans Road for a quick lunch as I was fasting breakfast that morning (yes, even after a 10km run!) –so you can imagine, I was famished!

One thing Hatched hasn’t lost is its quirky charm and one of a kind decor and design. Just check out these really cute salt and pepper shakers! (Jasmine: actually, I know exactly where to buy them.)

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They had plenty of cute lamps about, but we didn’t take shots of them. These were our drinks below: a fruit tea and iced caramel latte!

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And my food – a ‘Burly Benedict’, poached eggs and corned beef on English muffin.  Ironically, the egg was the worst part of this dish. The corned beef was alright and the English muffin was light and fluffy, even the mashed potato with a mushroom sauce was creamy and comforting.

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However, the egg was disappointing – the sauce on top was tasteless and the texture of the fried egg was quite ‘rubbery’. Quite a disappointment! Serving was small too, given that I had already ordered the double egg – but I didn’t quibble too much as we had the light bites at Quincy to look forward to!

Dear and I had come to this outlet before while we were dating and quite surprised to find the standard drop quite significantly!

Day 1 Dinner: Everything With Fries

Andrew: We wanted a quick dinner on Saturday after we had spent more time than expected on shopping (more on that later!) and wanted to rush back in time for the dinner canapes, so Everything with Fries at Orchard Central it was!

It was extremely crowded, but a couple was nice enough to offer us their seat, so we returned the favour later too when we saw a couple finding a seat.

Here’s what we had – a crumbed fish burger with sour cream and onion fries, duck leg burger with curry fries and a side of har cheong kai.

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The har cheong kai was the best! Chicken chunks were so juicy, the batter so crispy and well-seasoned, and it went perfectly with the mayo sauce on the side.

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Of the burgers, I loved the fish burger more. The duck leg burger was interesting and tasty, but because it was duck, the patty lacked the chewiness and juiciness that we usually appreciate about burger patties. The fish patty was so light and soft that it almost ‘melted’ together with the bun with each bite! Completely divine! The fries were generously seasoned and tasty! Such a simple, sure-win formula.

This restaurant has significantly improved from the time we first went there during our dating days. Dear used to stay near an EWF and this used to be our dinner before we went for cell on Fridays. It has retained its high quality of food as well as strong following, and I can see the range of burgers has increased, as well as desserts!

Day 2: Lunch – Gordon’s Grill 

Andrew: This was the ‘birthday treat’ of the weekend – Sunday roast at Gordon’s Grill! I had been there ages ago with my family and always wanted to come back. This meal was a real steal – at $50 per pax for a 3 course lunch, and $60 for a 4 course (including coffee or tea at the end) – if you check out the a la carte menu, the main course itself is already $40 plus, hence it’s totally worth it!

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The courses included a starter – we had the escargoes and the cold cappellini with crab, truffle and caviar. The cold cappellini was their signature dish and rightfully so – each bite had such a delicate mix and cacophony of rich flavours. Fantastic! The escargoes were well done and juicy, but not out of this world.

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Next course was the soup, where we had French Onion soup and Lobster Bisque with a splash of Napoleon brandy. The Lobster Bisque was the winner here, with a rich, creamy and robust flavour. 

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And then, it was the main course! Since their wagon-roasted black angus beef was the signature dish, both of us had it! The other dishes didn’t sound as attractive anyway.

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As the signature dish of the restaurant, it definitely didn’t disappoint! The serving was generous and the beef was just divine – so tasty, tender and juicyyy! Loved the Yorkshire pudding at the side and the boiled vegetables with mash. Serving was so big that Dearie couldn’t finish half of hers, and of course, I volunteered to help!

Jasmine: I rarely eat beef, but I had read that the roasts were the star of the show at Gordon’s Grill, and it didn’t disappoint! Juicy, tender and one of the most generous servings I’ve ever seen! My one small disappointment was that the meat wasn’t carved and plated tableside, since the roast meats trolley is supposed to be a Gordon’s signature and dying trade in Singapore restaurants- a waiter later told me that that was just for the a la carte orders but I still don’t understand the difference…

Andrew: Finally, we had a mini Baked Alaska to share, because I didn’t want to over-eat!

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Besides the food, there were other nice little touches, which made this restaurant unique. Dear’s Dior Ling got VIP treatment, with a little chair of its own! (Jasmine:  Wow! I’m amazed Dear remembers the name of my bag! Last time he would have just called it “the pink thing”.)

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Andrew: And all around the restaurants were these paintings in recessed walls, which Dear is planning to do in our home! Oh, someone please save me! (Jasmine: relax… I said, future home.)
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Jasmine: As a sidenote, I love the decor of this restaurant: elegant but not stuffy, with a nod to the colonial building through its classic furniture but given a modern update with the neutral palette and fantastic figurative artwork in “reverse framing”, yet small enough such that you feel comfortable and not intimidated by the poshness of the surroundings.

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Andrew: All in all, a great meal. Thanks Dear!

3. The Shopping!

Andrew: As always, we save the best for last! Now, Dear had asked me where I wanted to go to shop and I told her let’s go to Orchard Gateway, since I wanted to try out Daniel and Jamie’s latest restaurant – Dulce and Sucre! Little did I realise that Orchard Gateway was a heaven for men’s shopping because they had an entire floor dedicated to men’s shopping! This is something that no other mall in Singapore has. I believe all the shops there are also unique to Orchard Gateway, giving it a true niche in the market.

We didn’t take a picture here, but they had a store where you could get custom-made shoes, with a choice of the material and design of sole, the type of material used, the design of the shoe etc. The designer walks you through the design elements, then they send the design back to Korea for them to tailor make it. We saw some truly stand-out pieces, but immediately left when they told us that each piece starts from $500. (Jasmine: Allow me to just point out that two days later, Andrew told me he was thinking of going back to check out this shop.)

One shop which we spent a lot of time at was this shop ‘S2VS’, where I bought 3 new shirts – one of which you’ve seen extensively in the pictures at Gordon’s Grill. This I quote from Dear, the shop ‘does colour blocking really well’, which is something I currently do not have in my wardrobe! Well, since she said it, I had to plug that gap in my wardrobe, didn’t I? Heh.

Jasmine: I’ve created a monster. I should never have introduced that man to the concept of coloured shoes. I should have just let him think shoes only came in black. Now he’s talking about colorblocking and custom made shoes, for goodness’ sake. Sighhhh.

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Jasmine: We also spotted this shop, City Flow, near the escalator, which sold a whole range of creatively designed products from Taiwan, some winning Red Dot Design awards, ranging from quirky Oscar trophy and industrial lamps, to ice cub trays which can make transparent ice cubes (instead of the normal whitish ones), to tissue boxes designed with springs to help get the last piece of tissue out!

Andrew: I was drawn to this amazing range of rings they had, which resembled my wedding band. Dear identified a really nice design in ebony and stainless steel and bought it for me as my birthday present:

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Even the ring box is stylo

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Nicely matches my skin tone…. and my new Ted Baker watch! (Jasmine: I don’t understand.. why is this watch picture here? Told you I created a monster.)

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Andrew: Wow, now that we’ve blogged about it, I can’t imagine so much was done in the short span of just 1 day! Thanks Dear for this amazing birthday celebration. Beyond all the treats and presents, what was truly good was the  couple-time where we had, just laughing, chatting, and reminiscing about our dating days. It was a much needed recharge for the week ahead and also, for the next phase of our lives when baby girl arrives!

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