How much would you pay for fish and chips?
If you’re dining at The English House, Marco Pierre White’s first restaurant in Singapore, that would be $98. The food here is unquestionably designed to be elevated British comfort grub. The enfant terrible British chef won’t entertain questions about price. But he will tell you this fish is “the best turbot you can find in the north (of UK)”. The chips are cooked in tallow and the peas in beef marrow. The tartare sauce? House-made, of course.
Thankfully, the menu also has more sensibly-priced items like the Honey Roasted Pork Belly ($68) for two, or a deeply-comforting Oxtail Broth En Croute ($30) with wild mushrooms and truffle.
And The English House isn’t just about food. White is adamant that he’s in the business of selling “a night out” — “a place where the atmosphere, service and food come together for a memorable experience”.
You come for the whole package. White spent three years restoring the once-derelict shophouse, formerly occupied by popular 90s’ nightspot Madam Wong’s. The oriental decor has long been stripped off the walls, replaced with lush green foliage decorating the entrance, colonial-chic interiors and doormen with old-fashioned manners. Here’s some trivia: The two dignified doormen are brothers, and they served formerly at the Raffles Hotel, where White would stay when he was in town.
Stepping into The English House is like being transported back in time. The old world, where chefs would buy fish fresh off the boats and mobile phones had yet to exist.
On the walls are White’s personal collection of individually autographed Terry O’Neill photographs. “Terry O’Neill is a very old friend of mine,” says White. “These photographs were shown in Hong Kong some time ago, but rather than sending the collection back to the UK, I had the photos sent to Singapore.”
Come next year, The English House will open up 18 rooms upstairs, making it the first restaurant with rooms in Singapore. Lest you think this is the perfect excuse to imbibe freely, blissfully secure in the knowledge that you can stumble into bed upstairs after, White has more romantic plans. The rooms are intended for long-stays, and each room is outfitted with a dedicated table at the property’s private terrace.
“When you stay in our rooms, it’s like being in my home,” says White.