Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, July 22, 2012

A grand experience at Grand Hyatt Singapore

Singapore bound Kolkatans who shell out a hefty sum to book the classy Singapore Airlines are often condemned to travel by the lousy Silk Airways.  I too felt short changed when I arrived in Singapore on early July 18, 2012, morning via Silk Airways though I had booked my ticket having in mind Singapore Airlines. My luck ran out further when I found that the airlines had misplaced my baggage.
I checked in at the Hotel Grand Hyatt Singapore and found the property truly lived up to its name. An about 30-minute drive from the Changi Airport, the hotel was really grand and full of pleasant surprises. For the first time I saw a cascading waterfall set among beautiful landscaped gardens within the hotel premises. The hotel, a modern high rise building situated in the heart of Singapore’s commercial and entertainment hub, is acclaimed for its high standards.
This 1971 property boasts of 660 plus rooms with several food outlets. The Italian restaurant Pete’s Place is considered to be one of the best in the city state. It struck me that not only Hyatt Delhi and Kolkata but also other Hyatt properties across the globe seem to particularly excel in Italian cuisine.
Pete’s Place restaurant was opened on October 13, 1973, at the basement just a few months after Hyatt Grand started operations in Singapore in late 1972.  Earlier, there used to be two famous Italian restaurants in Singapore -Dino and Lataviana. Both these restaurants have now closed down. 
Pete’s Place has unique architecture with the original brick work and tiles. The old furniture continue to carry the old world charm in a modern set up. Due to popular demand, the hotel authorities ran down the car park to pave way for the expansion of Pete’s Place. They retained the old furniture and ensured that the new décor seamlessly blended with the old and the matching old-fashioned light fixtures.
The one of the present Captain of Pete’s, Mr Alfa, who joined in 1973 still holds fort. Apart from the fantastic and authentic Italian cuisine, what impressed me most was the pepper grinder.  While dining in the corner area of the restaurant, I saw that huge pepper grinder being carried by Mr Alfa. He worked on it to sprinkle freshly ground pepper on salad plates of the guests.  I could make out it was an arduous task carrying the grinder to serve a table full of diners.
I inquired about the grinder from Mr Aloysius Ng, the restaurant manager. He said the grinder has been around since the opening of the restaurant and weighed about six kilos and is working fine for the past 40 years.
About a decade back Kolkatans were swept by the craze for `Chinese food’. But over the last decade or so there has been a gradual shift with the growing popularity of Italian cuisine. The fact that Bangkok and Singapore, with its numerous Italian joints, are now hot tourist destinations for Kolkatans. This may have something to do with the change of palate.
I think Pete’s Place is a must-visit restaurant. It is an institution in Italian dining scene that has been on the scene much before the wave of other Italian restaurants hit Singapore’s shores. I say, not just for its good food, but for the unique pepper grinder the place merits a visit when you are in Singapore.
ess bee

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