Hey, mama! Need a quick shot of inspiration for a night out on the town (no kids, that is)? Here’s our pick of new restaurants in Singapore (and the latest bars!), condensed and served up in tasty bite-size pieces just for you.
It’s all change on Gemmill Lane, which is seeing musical chairs of new restaurants and bars. Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House is moving next door to a bigger spot; chef David Almany of MBS Mozza fame will soon open Italian-American Angeleno in it’s place. Next door is Bar-A-Thym, opposite is the revamped Club Street Social, and up the way (we can’t be exact as that would give the game away) is Maggie Joan’s…plus their next-door bar to open by November. Not bad for a little side street, eh?
Bar-A-Thym – Southern France Seafood a la Plancha
Wolf has gone. Welcome, Bar-A-Thym, a 45-seat restaurant bar on Gemmill Lane by Chef-Owner Francois Mermilliod (of Au Petit Salut, Flutes at the Fort and Absinthe). A grafiitied Catalunyan mermaid beckons diners in from one wall; the kitchen is open and comes with a much-coveted plancha for grilling dishes. The atmosphere is casual yet smart, intimate yet not too highbrow. The menu has a South of France-Mediterranean slant with a focus on seafood. You may order a la carte or choose a budget ($80-250 for dinner) to determine the amount of courses and the exclusivity of the ingredients. Chef Mermilliod’s cooking is excellent, interesting and well presented. Alaskan King-Crab, Angel Hair pasta, Uni ($32) is a showstopper of a dish, with a good sized mound of sweet crab atop umami uni flecked pasta with salty bursts of ikura pearls. Mediterranean Sotong, Homemade Chorizo, Fregola Sarda ($22) is another winner, then there’s the pretty Beetroot Cured Tooth-Fish Carpaccio ($26) and for something a little meatier, Braised Rabbit Leg, Black Figs and Kiplers ($38) or Iberico Pork Jowl with Pear Chutney ($22). Every dish is a surprise, each one hits the spot. Keep this place on your Date Night hot spot list, though it would do equally well for a business lunch or a tete a tete….basically, just find a reason, any reason and get here quick.
Bar-A-Thym, 18 Gemmill Lane, Singapore 069255, Tel: (+65) 6557 2224
Maggie Joan’s – Mediteranean Secret Den
This is the kind of place you need to have inside information to find – it’s down a dark alley, with no obvious signage to guide you to the heavy steel door. All the right ingredients to pique your interest, no doubt. Once found, Maggie Joan’s unveils a narrow, exposed brick restaurant – tables are wedged up next to eachother so no plotting to overtake the world here, as your neighbours will be right in on the plan. They get top marks for low lighting, and another tick for the must-have open kitchen. Dishes are Mediterranean, portions err on the smaller side. Some, deliciously rustic like the Roast Jerusalem Artichoke & Manchego ($8), some beautifully fine dining like the Yellowtail Sashimi, Cured Carrots, & Brandade Mousse ($23), and the Roast Sea Bass with Warm Pesto, Marinated Balsamic and Vanilla Tomatoes ($28). Behind the scenes the chefs whizz up their own ricotta, sous vide artichokes, blowtorch tomatoes, and compress peaches (don’t miss the Heirloom Tomato, Peach and Burrata entrée at $21). Set up by the guys behind Moosehead Kitchen, Maggie Joan’s has a secret den feel – perfect for their soon-to-come, forget-the-world, weekend free-flow boozy lunches.
Maggie Joan’s, 110 Amoy Street, 01-01, entrance from Gemmill Lane, Singapore 069930, Tel: (+65) 6221 5564
5th Quarter – Grilled Meats in Saucy Hotel Vagabond
Restaurateur Loh Lik Peng has done it again, this time with Satinder Garcha and Chef Nocente (of W Singapore’s Skirt) at the helm. Fifth Quarter opens in uber artsy Hotel Vagabond and offers house cured charcuterie (Chorizo, Salsiccia and Red Wine Salami) and a chance to tuck into Josper grilled cuts: from the ‘safe’ choice Pork Belly to more adventurous cuts like Salt & Pepper Tripe. If you’re planning a date night with a difference, get brownie points with dinner here followed by a four-minute commute to bed upstairs. Hotel Vagabond (stylish interiors by French designer Jacques Garcia) has just opened its doors and is dripping in red sultry tones and brass sculptures from the life-size elephants holding up the ceiling to the solid brass Rhino reception desk (crafted by 15 villages in Rajasthan over 8 months, no less).
5th Quarter, Hotel Vagabond, 38 Syed Alwi Rd, Singapore, 207630, Tel: (+65) 6291 1936
Grain Traders – Hip Healthy Bowls
City slickers, this one’s for you! The Kilo group have launched Grain Traders: if there was an award for a menu that can cram as many super food buzz words in it then this just may be it! This style-your-own bowl concept ($16) incorporates a grain, a protein, a hot vegetable, 2 cold veggies, sauce and topping. To paint a picture, think Quinoa, Roasted Butter Nut Squash, Sous Vide Chargrilled Salmon, Apple Kimchi and Cucumber Pickles, with Beetroot Feta Yoghurt and a Chilli Mix topping. Not your average lunch bowl, then, what with the careful preparation (sous vide, home made, attention to healthy details). Breakfast sees an equally impressive well-curated list of offerings that are a far cry from your boring Weetabix and toast. Grab your cold brew and ponder the options: there’s brown rice porridge with roasted chicken, avocado and egg ($8), banana cinnamon oatmeal with sautéed apples and seeds ($8), and for those needing some hair-of-the dog fare, a tequila-cured salmon bagel with roasted jalapeno cream cheese and alfalfa ($10). We applaud this movement of good slow food, where you can tell real care and love has gone into the prep.
Grain Traders, Capitagreen, #01-01/02/03, 138 Market Street Singapore 048946, Tel: (+65) 6348 6559
Garcons – French Foodcourt
Two local boys (or as they say in France, ‘garcons’) have opened up Garcons for French food without the fine-dining prices. Chef Teo, 25, (Enoch’s European, East Coast Road) and Chef Tee, 28, (Immanuel French Kitchen) have put together an easy-on-the-pocket menu of Duck Rillettes and Baguette ($8.60), Black Miso Foie Gras ($16.50) and Duck Leg Confit ($16.90) amongst others, all served up in a foodcourt setting at The Pinnacle.
Garcons, Essen@The Pinnacle, 1 Cantonment Road, The Pinnacle @ Duxton
Chef’s Table – Open Kitchen on Tras St
Chef Stephan Zoisl has cultivated a following thanks to his theatrical pop up Nutopia dinners. Now he opens his own permanent stop, Chef’s Table on Tras St. Bottles of liquers, whiskeys and wines line the walls at this minimalist shop house which has more of a wine bar feel save for the fully open kitchen at the back. The actual chef’s table seats 12 (in mixed groups and couples, or you can book the whole table) and it overlooks the kitchen, so you can watch as dishes are meticulously composed. The menu offers small or big plates like Scotch Eggs ($14) and Pulled Pork Sliders ($18) or there’s the chef tasting menu. These start at three courses (for $68) and inch their way up in course and price till the eight-course dinner at $150. Dishes range from the slightly underwhelming Heirloom Tomatoes and Prawn to the more majestic: two cuts of Angus Beef sous vide, served on fermented grains in a rich umami savoury sauce, topped with porcini mushrooms and a smear of roasted garlic. Chef Stephan still offers his ambitious Nutopia Experience ‘Through Time and Space’ – this 12 course menu ($188/pax min 4 diners and 2 days’ advanced booking) promises a dinner that takes you from The Big Bang all the way through to the present, and a peek at the future too.
Chef’s Table, 61 Tras Street, Singapore 079000, Tel: (+65) 6224 4188
The Bakehouse – Pizza and Cake
The Bakehouse by Carpenter And Cook is right next door to IKEA, Alexandra so if IKEA’s meatballs leave you a little uninspired, you may want to take note. The Bakehouse is a small vintage homewares styled café with a menu encompassing mains of wood fired pizzas, sandwiches with bread baked in-house and pastas, plus a mixture of what Carpenter and Cook are known for– pretty bakes and cakes. Don’t miss their White Rabbit Carrot Cake ($7), Lemon Meringue ($7), and Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel ($6.50).
The Bakehouse, 01-14 Alexandra Central, 321 Alexandra Road, Singapore 159971, Tel: (+65) 6250 0040
Bacchanalia – New Digs
The Freemasons building no longer holds Bacchanalia in its clasp. Instead, Bacchanalia have moved to 39 Hong Kong St, and with the move there comes a change of tone, less pomp and circumstance, more cosying up with the chefs in their open plan kitchen. They offer 5 courses at $115, or 7 courses at $150. Favourites from the original menu remain alongside new concoctions like pickled Japanese sardine with sweet corn, spring onion purée and chickpea cream.
Bacchanalia, 39 Hong Kong St, Singapore 059678, Tel: (+65) 6509 1453, www.bacchanalia.asia