Fosters-Singapore - Tony Cunnane's Afterthoughts

Tony Cunnane's Afterthoughts
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Filet fantastique - 03 March 2011

I’ve just read in the Daily Express about a book called “What every man thinks about apart from sex” by ‘Professor’ Sheridan Simove. It is also widely reported elsewhere – check it out on Google. It’s a joke book, because all the pages are blank but, apparently, it’s already become a best-seller – especially amongst students.

It is, however, not the first time this kind of joke has been played. It reminds me of Fosters’ Steak House, off Orchard Rd Singapore in the early 1960s. Fosters was a delightful place to eat, located in a small side street off Orchard Road, the main shopping centre of Singapore. It was quite small but clean, with low ‘olde-worlde’ wooden beams and beautifully decorated. Oh, and it served ice cold Foster’s lager!

There was a very long menu comprising all manner of steak dishes but their piece de resistance was what they called Filet Fantastique. This was an enormous platter filled with a truly enormous fillet steak surrounded by a minimum of 10 different vegetables (when the dish was delivered, we were encouraged to count to make sure there were indeed at least 10 different vegetables). I can’t remember how much this magnificent dish cost, but it was well within the price range for a junior flight lieutenant.

The reason for telling you this is that on each table there was a selection of advertising booklets, one of which was entitled “What men know about women”. Yes – you’ve guessed: the inside pages were completely blank. I am sure I still have one of those somewhere in my archives. However, I can’t scan it to show you because I can’t find it at present, but I do know I have kept it all these years.

Above: My 1965 image. The main road in the centre leading towards the harbour is Orchard Road; the tallest building is the Meritus Mandarin Hotel; off to the left at the very bottom of the image is Scott Road. My grateful thanks to Jordan Ho for identifying those locations on my ímage.

The last time I went down Orchard Road, on one of my very short visits to Singapore in the 1990s, I couldn’t find Fosters Steak House – but by then the entire central area of Singapore had changed beyond all recognition. However, I’ve just found the Foster’s Restaurant website and discovered that Fosters is still going strong in a new location. And they still serve Filet Fantastique as their signature dish!

All of a sudden, I feel very nostalgic – and very hungry!

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