Frank Deuning has long and deep roots in the world of wining and dining. In 1993, after working in top-class hotels and restaurants, he opened his own restaurant, and named it after the famous governor of Java and founder of Singapore, (Sir Thomas Stamford) Raffles.
The Raffles is elegantly decorated, very calm and has you feeling more like you were dining at the home of your dear grandma than sitting in a restaurant. On the walls, there are large photos in sepia printed on cloth, while the restaurant has a wooden floor, Ikat curtains dividing the tables, off-white table linen over batik undercloths, Wedgwood crockery, yogya table silver and – the ultimate finishing touch – Riedel wine glasses. Frank is a senior member of the Netherlands’ Sommelier (wine waiter) fraternity and knows how to combine food and wine in a spectacular way.
This opens the discussion; “Can you drink wine with spicy Asiatic dishes?” – and the answer is simply, “yes”. Dine in The Raffles, order the wine by the glass programme laid out beside your menu and you will see what a skilful sommelier can do with your taste buds!
The kitchen of The Raffles is best described as modern Asiatic, with classic roots stuck firmly and deeply in the traditional values of central Java. On your plate this means; very tasty food, prepared with first-class ingredients, elegantly presented, but with all the authentic taste and character that you are looking for.
In our case, we started with Popiah Singapura, a beautifully thin, see-through ‘wrap’ made of rice flour filled with gently spiced crab. A sensational combination with the Silvaner from Germany’s star wine maker Hans Wirsching. Then we enjoyed a starter called Pasar Klewer. This dish brings you a small ‘egg roll’ or Lumpia, crisp and fresh, filled with elegantly spiced minced meat, and a corn ‘cookie’ that melts in your mouth. The Raffles also serves the best Saté (roasted pork skewer) we had tasted in a long time, made from organically-farmed ‘Livar’ meat, and a small Lemper of sticky rice, with soft-tasting meat filling, wrapped in a banana leaf. And let’s not forget: faultless Atjar to refresh your palate. Most Atjar (sweet & sour vegetables) is boring and uninspired, but not here!
After these more than promising starters we continued with a piece of Sereh (lemongrass), with crushed meat wrapped around it and roasted. It was nothing less than sublime and the 2009 Heymann-Löwenstein Schieferterrassen Riesling fitted it like a satin glove.
When it came to the main dishes, we were stunned by Frank’s Rendang Sapi Betawi; a fabulously soft-tasting dish made with the finest beef and potatoes, in a sauce to die for. On the opposite side, there were king-size prawns called Udang Kacang Padang, who ended their day in a fine way, covered in a spicy, light peanut sauce that does not send you running for the closest waterfall to cool down. The side dishes were yellow rice, Nasi Kuning, and crisp, fresh veggies in coconut milk. It might seem a challenge to combine these two dishes with one wine, but our Maître Sommelier got it spot on with Wirra Wirra Churchblock, a modern-classic Australian blend.
This spectacular feast of east & west, food & wine set us back € 180, all included, and was worth every penny.
Languages spoken; Fluent English, French, DutchRestaurant The Raffles
Javastraat 63, The Hague
Tel.: 070 – 345 85 87