Sleek, chic and, invariably, not cheap…good for either lunch or dinner, but predominantly written and collated with dinner in mind.
db BISTRO MODERNE
Marina Bay Sands (#B1 The Shoppes)
T: +65 6688 8525
Found at the Galleria Level of The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sand, just across from the theatre, Daniel Boulud’s offering is a rather understated but nice spot. He does a seriously good looking burger for $22 and up to $42 if you want the signature one with foie gras. The Heirloom tomato salad was just lovely but it was the Croque Monsieur that won the day. Have it with a fried egg on top and call it a Croque Madame. Call it whatever you like – it the best damn thing we have eaten this side of Paris. They don’t do a proper latte – be warned – they do the french rather stronger, smaller version but good (though it will cost you $8, so it should be). Their frites ain’t half bad either.
Opening Times: They are open for lunch and dinner (but not in between) everyday from 12pm-2.30pm; dinner runs from 5.30pm-10.30pm. Go on the weekend though and you get the Croque Monsieur on the brunch menu from 11am.
Ion (level 55 & 56)
2 Orchard Turn
T: (+65) 6592 5118
The latest addition to Aussie Chef Luke Mangan’s Salt Group – this must surely be the most breathtaking of all their global locations. The Sky Bar is situated at one end of this enormous glass space that offers 360 degree views of the city and beyond. Cloud formation names, cloud related quotes and places of note are etched on the glass, and if that isn’t enough, wander up the ramp and use the state of the art telescopes that show what the view would be like day or night while you wait for your starters to arrive.
Luke’s name appears to be embossed on everything, as if you could forget who owns the joint. But I guess when you create a place like this you have every reason to want your name on it. The service was a little overbearing and the meal certainly wasn’t cheap, but it was a serious celebration and the bill fitted…well…the bill.
The food is modern Aussie; a little fusion in places but it works. The Dukkah and olive oil to dip your bread in were divine and set the tone for the meal ahead. Set out as small plates the menu is large but the idea is to choose and share many rather than just get starter and mains per person. It is also a good option if you have vegetarians in your midst – plenty to choose from for everyone. The meats are varied, well hung and of course grilled, and the line caught snapper was spanking fresh and beautifully presented. The curried pumpkin samosa didn’t pack as much punch as we had hoped but the compressed beetroot was delicate and tasty, and the ‘Salt’ signature salad was really very good. In fact we would be happy to go and just have that for a light lunch.
Lunch can be a very bright affair – midday in a glasshouse – I am sure you can imagine. But by night the vista is magical; all twinkly and sparkly…very romantic.
The easiest way to get the the restaurant is to drive – hand your car over to the valet and take the escalator one floor down. Go straight to the fourth floor concierge and get escorted up. Getting there after the shopping mall has closed for the day is a little more complicated: enter the building via ION Walk (this is the passage between ION and Wisma). Take the escalator up to Level 4, and then take the lift from ION Art to Level 55.
Opening Times: 11.30am-3pm & 6pm-10.30pm daily
Sky Bar Opening Times: 6pm-11.30pm Mon-Fri, 6pm-2.30am Sat & Sun
Wine Bar Opening Times: 11.30am-22.30pm daily (but closed between 5pm & 6pm)
23 Boon Tat Street
T: (+65) 6224 0091
Our absolute favourite restaurant in Singapore. Opened just less than three months ago you already have to book at least a month in advance…even for lunch. It is the brainchild of the Forlino Famiglia and is everything that an Italian restaurant should be. It also has an interesting history. It is the latest restaurant to have chef Osvaldo Forlino at the helm, having very recently left ‘Osvaldo’, his second namesake restaurant in as many years! Having left behind both his surname and first name, he now joins his wife, daughters and niece at one of the most enchanting restaurants in Singapore. Situated on the ground floor of a shophouse near Club Street, the walls are filled with memorabilia and the floors are covered in random carpets. No modern white plates or soul-less glass cavern here. The vibe is cosy and busy. The quality of the food is matched only by the thoroughly accomplished floor staff that are knowledgeable and quick…unless you order the ‘no menu’ option that is…in which case sit back and enjoy the ride – but make sure you are not in a hurry. (The name ‘No Menu’ is slightly confusing, not least because there IS actually a menu. To clarify, besides the regular menu, you can also opt to go off-piste and have the ‘no menu’ tasting option, which means you are entirely in Osvaldo’s very capable hands.)
Don’t leave without trying Osvaldo’s signature sausage dish as an appetiser; the Burratta is hard to beat, and the truffle or squid ink risottos are pretty stunning. The produce is beautifully fresh and unusual ingredients are often used. My Roasted Trevise was delicious and I only just managed to save room for my beetroot gnocchi. Make absolutely sure you have room for dessert though – Mama Patricia’s apple cake is divine, or try Gaia’s Peaches – grown on her farm back at home. Or if you can still fit it in, go for the cheese plate. If you are a foodie and your holy grail is Italian, we defy you not to love this place.
Opening Times: 11.30am–2pm, 6.30pm–10pm Mon-Fri; 6.30pm–10pm Sat. Closed Sun
Orchard Parade Hotel (#01-01)
1 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6732 1866
We are: Proper Japanese with price tags to rival restos in Tokyo
Where: Orchard end of Tanglin Road
We’re: Full of Japanese people who know about good food
Wear: Something sleek and stylish; everyone looks at you when you walk in
Best described as a little piece of Japan. Once you have been here once, it will become a firm favourite. A great place to take (or even better, be taken to by) visitors, there is just the right dose of drama, seasoning, exquisite food and good sake (we insist on hot). No prices, so just close your eyes and go for it; you sit around a marketplace array of refrigerated fresh produce that has just arrived from Japan and simply order with your eyes – i.e. point at what looks good and it will be cooked for you. Must tries are the kobe beef skewers which are melt in your mouth deliciousness as well as the ginko nuts, cooked and served with just the perfect amount of salt added to them. There are three sections to the restaurant, each with an identical display of food and with two chefs to each station. The food is cooked in front of you and delivered to diners via a wooden paddle.
Opening Times: 6.30pm-1am (last orders 12.30pm)
21 Duxton Hill
T: (+65) 63233353
We’re: A nice change; an understated little brasserie
Where: Duxton Hill, round the corner from China Town
Wear: Whatever you like
Bring: Friends or family
We’ve just moved this from ‘Everyday Dinners’ to ‘Spoil Me’ after we were told by a few friends that it was their most expensive meal in Singapore to date (i.e. it has a lovely low-key feel and great food and wine, all of which are coupled with a kick ass bill. Don’t be put off though, just bear it in mind). Broth is a lovely bistrot on Duxton Hill on the pedestrianized area. Not actually a reference to their signature dish or sole culinary offering, BROTH stands for Bar, Restaurant On The Hill. They always ensure there is a daily broth of some description so as not to disappoint its more literal clients but that isn’t why you come here. A genuine gem, this little restaurant is deceptively serious. The service is top-notch and understated, the food stunningly simple and unpretentious. Salads and pastas, occasional organic offerings and really decent desserts adorn the menu – even picky eaters will struggle deciding what to order. A bit off the beaten track but a lovely place for brunch on the weekend, girlie or business lunch and a nice relaxed vibe in the evenings…not a bad little all-rounder really.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
35 Keong Saik Road
T: (+65) 6224 1501
An Italian resto with a Japanese influence, this is delish and doesn’t disappoint without blowing the budget. The chef is Japanese and he spent 4 years cooking in Italy where he has certainly learned a thing or two. The downside is that it is quite a bossy restaurant that will only let you order their chefs menu on weekends, or when they are busy, whereas on a quiet weekday you can choose between the chefs menu and the set menu. The service wasn’t great but warmed up a lot; when we arrived it was terrible and we were given the wrong menus after rather a long wait for them. Wine is pricey but good – the cheapest is around $80 a bottle and it’s all Italian. Their house white was faultless though. Food wise, although you can’t necessarily choose, their almost raw scallop gratin served in gorgeous little Le Creusier pots was heaven. Their sea urchin spaghetti is mind blowing too, but only served twice a week (Tue and Fri) to ensure absolute freshness – call ahead to ask whether or not they have it in before going….it is that good. The tiramisu was bitter and brilliant. On the flip side of the coin, the only other gripe apart from those we’ve already whined on about above, were that they were quite keen on trying to bounce you in to the sections of the menu that had a surcharge attached to them… a bit boring (esp when surcharge for wagu was $40 pp). But otherwise, delish and we’d come back again and again.
Opening Times: 12pm-2pm Mon-Fri; 6.30pm-10pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
T: (+65)6732 7838
This does what it says on the tin. It is a super restaurant if you want to eat heavenly Peking duck. Build you meal around it and major on the Peking duck rather than just having it as a starter. They don’t major in the skin only pancakes (which can sometimes be too rich) and instead it’s a crispy skin and meat mix. Any leftover meat they’ll serve to you with noodles or minced in lettuce leaves. Their pancakes are delicious and the best we’ve had.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.45pm; 6pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. 10.30am-2.45pm; 6pm-10.30pm Sun
Customs House (#01-04)
77 Collyer Quay
T: (+65) 6532 9939
Part of the Florentine powerhouse and it has travelled well. We love it here and have nicknamed it ‘Pork Scratchy’ as it does rather sound like that when you say their name fast! Delicious lunches served up at around $30+ if you go for the set, three course lunch menu which is faultless. It’s also a great place for dinner. Surprisingly not too hideously expensive which so many authentic and proper Italian joints can be over here. Our only criticism would be one of decor/vibe as it’s a bit too corporate feeling for our tastes if you eat inside (no choice if you go at lunchtime though as it’s just too darn hot to be out on one of their waterside tables. Make sure you go al fresco for dinner though). CBD location is balanced by Procacci being in Customs House which is like a little oasis of low rise tranquility, dwarfed on all sides by skyscrapers and the mass of office workers within them; its close proximity to Lantern Bar (see EAT ME, DRINK ME Raising the Bar) and waterside setting. BTW: there is no parking at customs house. You can either valet park at Fullerton Bay Hotel for $10 (and walk through the hotel until you reach their outdoor decked area which connects to Customs House) or park in the Microsoft building’s multistory car park which is on the corner of Collyer Quay, just before Marina Boulevard, and walk for 2 seconds until you arrive at Custom’s House.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm; 5.30pm-11pm daily
11 Canning Walk
T: (+65) 6338 5498
Part of the Garibaldi group who also own Gunthers and Garibaldi (see EAT ME, DRINK Me/Spoil Me Dinners). Gatopardo is not wildly different in terms of it’s pricing (think uber splurge) but like the others, it’s utterly delicious and very authentic. All the food is made with Italian sourced ingredients which does help explain the pricing: the langoustine that was wafted in front of us on their uncooked ‘fish of the day’ viewing platter was so FOB that he was still clutching his boarding pass. We went with proper Italians who were ordering experts and have deduced the following: if it’s there (not always available) have the very special and very fresh double cream mozzarella (called burata) served with Palma ham and salad to start with, followed by a $40 (but so worth it) bowl of tagliatelle al fungi with shavings of black truffle. If you are only 2 people, it’s much nicer and less corporate to sit at the bar.
Opening Times: 12pm-3pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm daily
39C Harding Road
T: (+65) 6473 9965
We’re: European comfort food
Where: Converted church in Dempsey
Wear: Banana Republic or Prada shorts
Housed in a restored old chapel in Dempsey, White Rabbit is one of the few brasserie-style restaurants that exist in Singapore. Perfect for a casual lunch or slightly smarter dinner, this place isn’t cheap but is consistently good. Drink your pre-dinner cocktail in their twinkling and fabulous outside bar ‘Rabbit Hole’. Drinks are beautifully executed and their fresh tomato juice Bloody Mary is surprisingly light and fruity and well worth the ten minute wait. Having trained and worked in Europe the chefs’ food is predictably European – but that is where the predictability ends. There are some really outstanding dishes as well as a list of simple, non-fussy fare. It is a great place for oysters, not least because they offer them in every way possible (Rockefeller, Au Gratin or Natural), and the steak tartare is a classic that even the impresses the purists. Lobster thermidor sits happily on the same menu as a ‘White Rabbit Mac & Cheese’ – a far cry from the packet variety of childhood memories, this is a grown up affair complete with black truffle shavings. Try to leave room for pud – just make sure you avoid the rubbery and disappointingly non-flaming, crêpe suzette.
Opening Times: 12.30pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-9pm Tue-Sun. Closed Mon
126 Tanjong Pagar
T: (+65) 6324 6225
We’re: Fusion without pretention
Where: Tanjong Pagar (Central-ish)
Wear: Tank tops or Tod’s
Bring: Mamma or Mrs
Go here. Well, at least really try to; it’s notoriously difficult to get a table. Highly recommended and run by a very successful husband and wife team: Tracy’s Singaporean and chef Oscar is from Italy. To compound the difficulty in eating here (or maybe it’s the level of dedication to ingredients that causes it) they regularly take off for Italy to source new things to cook with – the restaurant is closed during these jaunts. Food is excellent and a happy marriage of Italy and Asia, made using the freshest local ingredients which are combined with Italian flair. They’ve been here for 5 years, so must be doing something right. Chef Oscar’s approach to food can be described as simple but elegant, reflecting the influences of the 2 most important women in his life: his Mamma and his Mrs. No fussy fusion food here though. BTW: call 1 month ahead to the day to be successful. You can bring your own wine, but there is a corkage charge of around $20. They sell a good selection if your bottle’s not worth enough to warrant paying corkage. Oscar is also a ‘Chef Instructor’ at Shermay’s Cooking School in Holland Village – see www.shermay.com for details.
Opening Times: 6.30pm-9.30pm Tue-Sat; Lunch 12pm-2pm Fri & Sat only. Closed Sun & Mon
Same but different: EMBER (see entry below)
MEZZA9 / STRAITSKITCHEN
The Grand Hyatt
10 Scotts Road
T: (+65) 6738 1234
We’re: Hawker food for the anally retentive
Wear: Twin set and pearls or jeans and heels
Bring: Relatives when they’re in town
The Hyatt has 2 restaurants: Mezza9 and StraitsKitchen. Both good if your imagination has run dry or if you have relatives staying. Mezza9 (besides having a good Sunday champagne brunch) has an impressive offering for lunch and dinner, built around the concept of glamorous Asian and international food. StraitsKitchen – the Hyatt’s other culinary offering on the first floor – also serves a great selection of local food (Chinese, Malay and Indian), daily, in an equally sleek setting. SK is the place to take your ageing auntie to when she demands to sample all that Asian cuisine has to offer without having to haul her to a hawker centre. BTW: The bar at Mezza9 is a mecca for martini lovers; choose from 30 different flavours from lychee to sakura.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Mon-Fri; Weekends 12.30pm-3pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm
Tanglin Mall (#01-28/33)
163 Tanglin Road
T: (+65) 6836 3088
We’re: Posh Indian nosh
Where: Tanglin Mall
Wear: Statement kurtas and nehru collars
Bring: Someone that will pay
A true ruby (murray) in the dust…a gem of a place in yet another shopping mall. Seriously smart northern Indian cuisine served in chic surroundings. Most of the staff have come from various Oberois around India and really know their stuff. Buffets (weekends only) are great value. The à la carte is delicious but pricey in the context of Little India only being a 15 minute cab ride away. However, if you crave northern Indian food with top restaurant atmosphere, then this is for you (Little India is predominantly Southern Indian). BTW: Bring pash or cardi, this is the only place colder than Takashimaya in Singapore. For great value lunchtime buffet deals – see listing under Buffet.
Opening Times: 12.30pm-3pm daily; 6.30pm-10pm Sun-Thu, 6.30pm-11pm Fri & Sat
Same but different: For deliciously upmarket Indian food, also try THE SONG OF INDIA (33 Scotts Road, T: (+65) 6836 0055) and VINTAGE INDIA (Dempsey Road, Block 10 #01-21, T: (+65) 6471 3100).
Regent Hotel (L3)
1 Cuscaden Road
T: (+65) 6733 8888
We’re: Taking Mother here
Wear: Shanghai Tang
Bring: The Emperor
Very traditional but seriously good. Wine is grown up too. For an expensive but unfailingly authentic and delicious Chinese dinner, go here.
Same but different: the chinese restaurant at the Goodwood is also very good – particulary for vegetarians who we are reliably informed can eat vegetarian crispy duck and pancakes!
Opening Times: 6.30pm-10.30pm
Regent Hotel (L3)
1 Cuscaden Road
T: (+65) 6732 2234
We’re: Never coming here again – we love it but the bank won’t let us!
Wear: Expensive clothes – they’ll want the shirt off your back
It’ll cost ya, but like most things naughtily unaffordable, it’s delicious and, we’re disappointingly running with the crowd on this one, it’s incredible, incredible food that you just can’t and aren’t let down by – despite the hype. Understated yet devastatingly elegant food that never fails to enchant and satisfy even the most difficult food snobs. If you don’t drink, your bill will be more than halved and you will leave feeling well….almost smug. The counter is the place to sit when you come here, and, remembering that you are here to both eat and spend, close your eyes and ask for the set 4 course menu or the 8 course degustation one and be amazed…
Opening Times: 7pm-9.30 daily; 12pm-1.30pm Mon-Fri (i.e. expense account lunches)
Pan Pacific Serviced Suites
96 Somerset Road
T: (+65) 6238 0054
Bring: People you love
For people who are serious about their steak but absolutely not a steak house in the traditional sense. Refined, elegant, expensive and exclusive. The menu changes quite regularly but top main course meaty offerings include wagyu steak weighing in at a hefty $90 – but really worth it – heavenly smoked garlic, the expected, but nonetheless delicious, creamed spinach and finished off with the perfect shoe string fries. Begin dinner with a shared plate of shaved iberico ham beautifully arranged on black slate, or share their rosemary and garlic studded, baked-in-the-box Camembert. There is a delectable sounding choice of puds but they actually rather disappoint in execution – so skip ‘em. The wine list is reasonable and they have some great whiskies. Last thing absolutely worth mentioning is that the service here strikes just the right note and is fabulous and unobtrusive. BTW: You don’t have to take out a second mortgage to eat here…and provided you delete the wagyu offerings, you will halve the bill. There is also reasonably priced tenderloin ($60+) fish, chicken ($30-ish) and fabulous burgers (around $20).
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
Same but different: PRIME SOCIETY (Dempsey, T: (+65) 6474 7427) has good steaks with great sides. Also, cheaper steak and with a bit of relaxed vibe is LE BOUCHON on Ann Siang Hill.
66 Kampong Bugis
T: (+65) 6467 3987
We’re: Laid back
Where: New location (moved from Old Fire House at Upper Bukit Timah) just beyond Beach Road
Wear: Casual chic
Raw is an absolute fave. Simple yet delectable dishes that are….simply delectable……and by no means predominantly raw (but you will find ample carpaccio etc on the menu if you are looking for it). A very chilled, laid back vibe that is sometimes missing in higher end and higher priced establishments and worth the schlep to get to, even if you live on the other side of the island.
Opening Times: For dinner and drinks only (no lunch). 6pm-11pm, Tue-Sun. Closed Mon
5 Rochester Park
T: (+65) 6774 0122
We’re: Chinese banquet that won’t blow the bank
Where: Rochester Park or Goodwood Park
Wear: Chinos or Cortefiel
Bring: Granny or Girlfriend
Named after the Min River of Szechuan, this is proper yet unpretentious Chinese banquet-style food. The branch at the old-fashioned but resplendent Goodwood Park Hotel (22 Scotts Road, T: (+65) 6730 1704) has been around for a long time and they clearly know what works (the menu is more or less the same in both restaurants, although Rochester doesn’t do a skin-only Peking duck pancake, the Goodwood branch does). For dinner expect to see all the usual suspects from shark’s fin soup to black pepper beef and delicious szechuan chicken with dried chilli – order deep fried mantos (sweet-ish buns) to accompany the latter. It is worth booking ahead as they are often full. On Sundays the Goodwood Park branch does a ‘dim sum high tea buffet’ (from 3pm-5pm) which does not really do their culinary capabilities justice and is not recommended vs some of the other dim sum options out there (see LUNCH as well as LOCAL). They do offer it à la carte during weekdays and Saturdays which is delicious and far superior to their buffet option. Peking duck needs to be pre-ordered at the Rochester branch (slightly pedantically/pretentiously they call it ‘Beijing’ duck) and it is their big sell; rightly so because their version is ritualistic and delicious – eat shards of crispy skin dipped in sugar before the traditional duck meat and skin pancakes appear, smeared with just the right amount of either plum sauce or a mild-ish chilli sauce (chilli is highly recommended). The Goodwood branch’s skin-only pancakes (no need to pre-order) are traditional and delightful – make sure you plump (you will be after this feast!) for the ‘lettuce leaf wrap’ option for the remaining duck meat, which is served as an additional course. BTW: If you go to the Goodwood’s branch, make sure you sit outside in the courtyard, amid the twinkling tree lights and looking on to the swimming pool – more attractive than inside which is a bit corporate and bright. At Rochester, try to get a balcony table vs an indoor one, but both are equally charming.
Opening Times: 11am-2.30pm, 6pm-10.30pm daily
Esplanade Mall (#02-27)
8 Raffles Avenue
T: (+65) 6423 1881
We’re: Nouvelle Chinese cuisine for the nouveaux riches
Wear: Mui Mui or Anna Sui (if you’ve got it wrong, hot foot it to Trove boutique, just next door)
Bring: Show offs with cash
This is a restaurant that does nouvelle cuisine Chinese-style, served up with lashings of aplomb (sauce). Works hard to combine crazy Alice in Wonderland décor with poetic delicacies such as ‘Memories of Spring Rain’ – it is thoroughly worthy of its recent 2009 World Gourmet Summit Award of Excellence, and is a tasty lesson in elegant conception and execution. However, be warned, it can at times feel more than a little pretentious. And frankly the chairs that hang out near the entrance are downright absurd adn more than fitting of a Mad Hatters Tea Party.
BTW: Their neighboring ‘annex’ called SPACE offers more pedestrian local classics including chicken rice and laksa – both of which are faultless in style and taste, and very wallet friendly (same number for reservations as My Humble House).
Opening Times: 11.45am-2.30pm; 6pm-10pm daily
The Regent Hotel (L2)
T: (+65) 6725 3232
We’re: Authentic Italiano
Wear: Celica Loe or Betty Barclay
Exceptional Italian food with buffet-style starter and pud. Or save money and just do the starter buffet for about half the price ($35++) without having to order a main course but go back and fill your plate with Prosciutto, Talleggio, and all the other usually overpriced fabulous Italian goodies. BTW: Great set menu for dinner at only $62++.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm Mon-Sat, 12pm-3pm Sun; 6.30pm-10pm daily
50 Keong Saik Road
T: (+65) 6347 1928
We’re: Modern Euro
Where: China Town
Wear: Unbranded chic or Miu Miu if you must
Bring: Old friends or new
Nearly always full. In a former shophouse and found on the fringes of China Town, a great place for a less predictable night out. Consistently good food that is imaginative without being too pretentious. BTW: Their softshell crab with wasabi rocks. They also do a good value set lunch.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2.30pm Mon-Fri; 6.30pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
Same but different: BUKO NERO (see entry above).
8d Dempsey Road
Singapore 249 672
T: (+65) 6475 2217
We’re: Über splurge with science
Wear: Hansel or Diesel
Bring: Boyfriend, girlfriend or best friend…and a sense of humour
A masterclass in molecular gastronomy, this restaurant is one of a kind in Singapore (for now). Hailed as Asia’s answer to Ferran Adria or Heston Blumenthal by foodies in the know, Ryan Clift serves up challenging and very visually impressive food. However, his style is not everyone’s cup of tea and if you are not in the mood for small portions that may well appear in a different form to that which you were expecting, it may not be for you. Their hidden spot in Dempsey doesn’t quite fit (which may explain why it’s so eerily quiet some evenings – granted not Fridays and Saturdays) vs a vibrant, splashy downtown location. They would say that it’s edgier, we would say they need more weekday customers with cash to burn. This is also not a restaurant that many will go to more than once. The prices can be prohibitively expensive if you opt for the 18 course cocktail pairing menu at $380++, but $125++ for 6 courses without cocktail pairing represents good value – just don’t ask for iced water. They don’t do it. If you are a real foodie but can’t quite stomach the prices then check out the very good value lunch on Thursday through to Saturday or go for drinks on ‘The Terrace’ (evenings only) and sample one or two plates to whet your appetite. BTW: It is also a great place to end an evening as you can go for a closing cocktail and divine dessert – the ‘pear tartin 2009’ is sublime.
Opening Times: 6pm-10.30pm Tue-Sat; Lunch 12pm-3pm Thu-Sat & last Sun of month; Tippling Terrace: 6pm-9pm Tue-Sat. Closed Mon
36 Purvis Street (#01-02)
T: (+65) 6837 1468
We’re: Italian food for people who travel regularly to Rome
Where: Next to the Raffles
Wear: Quiet and understated Ferragamo
Bring: A prospect (business or pleasure)
Faultless and delicious, this is grown up Italian nosh – just be warned that they charge here like a kicking mule. Say yes to anything containing truffles, they serve them wonderfully and they are fresh, fragrant and perfect. The veal tagliatelle is highly recommended as is the seared goose liver. BTW: The bar here will serve drinks from the moment they open, right through until closing. They also own the high-end French affair, Gunther’s, next door. Great business lunch venue and great for a romantic dinner a deux.
Opening Times: 12pm-3pm; 6.30pm-11pm daily (Fri & Sat, after the last food order, they will stay open until the last guest leaves).
36 Purvis Street (#01-03)
T: (+65) 6338 8955
We’re: Stunning French food
Where: Near Raffles Hotel. If you can bear to rub shoulders with tourists, go for a pre-dinner drink at their Martini Bar (not, we repeat, not the dreadful Long Bar) or better still, try the cute and cool bar at the Mint Museum of Toys just around the corner
Wear: Label overload, so if you take a handbag, make sure it’s real
Bring: The wife and if she can’t make it, the mistress
French and fabulous, Gunther’s delivers top, slightly nouvelle nosh and with mostly French (style) staff who need to work on their snootiness for the ultimate French experience. A tour of a raw cow may not be the best way to entice you to eat their dégustation menu. It didn’t work for us. The other weird quirk is that the walls of the restaurant are painted black – odd choice but probably done in order to dull the dazzle from the handbag bling. Book the right table and turn up with the right bag, and it will get a throne. The flaming entrecote is over the top deliciousness and bone marrow to start, divine. The chef used to cook for one of the world’s most picky vegetarians so this is also a fabulous place to go with diners that have difficult requests. Nothing is too much trouble, and if you call in advance he will even treat you to a vegetarain menu degustation!
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm, 6.30pm-10.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
Same but different: AU PETIT SALUT at Dempsey (T: (+65) 6475 1976) is grown up French fare in reassuringly unobtrusive surroundings. Excellent.
TORISHO TAKA BY AOKI
Gallery Hotel (#02-01)
1 Nanson Road
T: (+65) 6732 3343
We’re: Proper and perfect Japanese Yakitori
Where: Gallery Hotel, off River Valley Road
Wear: Hermes scarf wrapped round the handle of your Birkin bag. Sorry? What’s that? You don’t have one? Then don’t come here because you probably can’t afford it
Upmarket and authentic. Heavy emphasis on Yakitori which is delicious, even the usually boring veggie options (speaking as a meat eater, this is high praise indeed) left you thinking about them for days afterwards – the shitake mushrooms are heaven. The flavouring of each and every dish is to die for and utterly, utterly perfect. BTW: Try if you dare their raw chicken dish – weird but actually kind of wonderful.
Opening Times: 11.30am-2pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm. Closed Sun
1 Fullerton Road (01-02/03)
T: (+65) 6224 0088
We’re: Stylish, contemporary Chinese
Wear: Calvin Klein shirts or shifts
Owned by the same people that have the restaurant at the Majestic Hotel, this little waterside gem is new and well worth a visit. Probably not going to impress real Chinese banquet-style food aficionados, it’s Chinese that is unchallenging and a bit of an expat safe bet – euro-chic Chinese nosh would be a kinder way of saying the same thing. There are no hidden ingredients served up here and you are guaranteed (by us, at least) not to leave with an MSG headache. Located right on the Marina at the One Fullerton building, it’s a perfect place to go with guests that are in town for a short visit and demand a stylish Chinese meal that’s not tooo pricey. It’s location lets you tick quite a few boxes in one go: the Marina (check out the Merlion), a quick pre-dinner drink at The Fullerton, dinner at Jing then night capon the roof top bar on the Esplanade (Orgo – see Drink Me). Jing’s signature lobster noodles are well worth ordering, as are their wasabi mayo prawns, but the Peking duck is the main event. Served with darling little homemade pancakes and plum sauce, the duck is carved at the table and at $55 is actually remarkably good value as it can easily serve as a starter for 6, or a feast of a main for 2. It is also a good place to go if you have vegetarians lurking in your midst. What’s more, if you just can’t decide what to order, they have well thought out set menus (including 2 for vegetarians). Be careful when you order wine though…it transpired half way through that they only had 1 of the 2 bottles we had ordered, so we ended up drinking a variety of different reds…very frustrating. BTW: The ever-changing colours of the rather phallic glowing lights across the waterfront make for a good icebreaker if you are going there on a blind date or with people you don’t yet know!
Opening Hours: 6.30pm-11pm daily
Maxwell Chambers (#01-03)
32 Maxwell Road
T: (+65) 6224 0978
We’re: Damn good Italian family restaurant with Michelin starred prices
Where: Under Maxwell Chambers opposite Tanjong Pagar MRT
Wear: Massimo Dutti or Dolce & Gabbana jeans with blazer and heels
Bring: Visiting Italians…just so you can show off how authentic it really is here
Not too overly airconditioned, this lovely restaurant does pretty much everything it set out to. Recently sold by it’s name sake, Osvaldo Forlino who was the chef here (formerly of Forlino and Il Lido) the restaurant is billed as a family affair but that is where any rustic inclinations end. The elegant menu and serious food are at home with the equally serious wine list, and the prices are certainly not quite what you would expect of a little family Trattoria. However, that is not to say that it isn’t good value; the $20 Margarita Pizza is cheaper than most places in town and frankly knocks socks off the best of them. Part with $50 and savour the divine Buratta served with homemade focaccia and stunning Prosciutto – enough for four to share as an hors d’oeuvre. We then had a pizza to share (again between four) followed by main courses for each and barely had room for pudding. Go for a one-course-wonder with glass of wine for relatively restrained weekday dinner or go with friends, share courses and some serious wine and have a proper splurge. BTW: Do check out Osvaldo’s new restaurant No Menu – see entry towards the top of this page.
Opening Times: 12pm-2.30pm; 6.30pm-9.30pm Mon-Sat. Closed Sun
2 Orchard Turn
T: (+65) 6509 9660
We’re: An atas version of delicious but more low-brow Paradise Inn
Wear: Ion-chic gear but anything goes really
Best Chinese restro in Ion and really worth finding. Order anything you like from the menu but the peking duck was crispy deliciousness (have the meat served with ee fu noodles after you’ve had the pancakes). The starters were incredible and the combination of pan-seared foie gras, wasabi mayonnaise prawn and slice of peking duck with condiments is out of this world/heart attack on a plate. Far, far superior to Canton-I which isn’t worth it (although it has fabulous décor).
Opening Times: 11am-2,30pm weekdays, 11am-4pm weekends; 6pm-9.30pm daily
New Majestic Hotel
31-37 Bukit Pasoh Road
T: (+65) 6511 4718
Where: China Town
We’re: Seriously scrumptious nouvelle Chinese nosh
Wear: Shanghai Tangs
The lunchtime crowd here – you may be surprised to learn – is 100% local. The evening crew is more expat. The food here is excellent and their beautifully executed modern Chinese cuisine is what has earned theim their rep; which they work hard to protect. Portions are not pint sized, but perfect, and their puds are excellent too. We loved their wasabi prawn/foie gras/Peking duck starter and the deep fried durian ice cream is a must. Ask for guidance when ordering, they all know their stuff and can steer you in to some great choices. Come early and go for drinks at the bar first.
Opening Times: 11.45am-2.30pm; 6.30pm-10.30pm daily
If none of these tickle your fancy check out the Everyday Dinners section.
Other lovely restaurants worth trying that we haven’t had time to write up yet:
Jaan Par Andre: at the top of the Swissotel, this dizzyingly high restaurant is considered to be the best in town
Forlino: Serious Italian on Sentosa..though the chef that made it so good has now set up his 2nd restaurant called No Menu
FiftyThree: Molecular gastronomy. If this is your thing then this will be your thing!
Wild Rocket: Understated setting but with uber East-West nosh.
Tatsuya: Japanese restaurant whose fish comes from Tokyo’s Tsukiji Market or isn’t on the menu. Not for the environmentally friendly, but it’s pairing of flavours are reputedly incredible…those in the know ask for a counter seat
Les Amis: The grand dame of French restaurants in Singapore with a very grown up wine list