Lunch in Singapore can be a daunting proposition with so many places to choose from; our Foodie News Flash columnist, Beate, is here to tell you your best bets…for every occasion
Ladies that lunch. That’s the dream isn’t it? So you’ve finally managed to carve out some free time and sync diaries with all your besties, now all you need is a restaurant that has great atmosphere (no malls!), not to mention serves delicious lunch. So where to? Aha! We are glad you asked!
Here is our roundup of our top ladies’ lunch spots in Singapore. In no particular order:
Flutes – Classy Cultural Refinement
Flutes is classy and sophisticated yet with a buzz of activity thanks to its great cuisine and service. Pop into the National Singapore Museum before your meal for a little cultural high.
Ambiance: White tablecloths, whirring fans, high ceilings, and a well tended bar make this one refined spot for lunch.
Lunch Menu: A la Carte and Set
Eat: Lunch during the week consists of a set menu (2 courses $34; 3 courses at $39). Menus change every two weeks – you might have papadum-crusted Atlantic scallops to start, delicious tender morsels of scallop with turmeric butter sauce topped with salmon roe – an undercurrent of curry yet delicate enough to taste the sweet scallops. For mains a choice of Grilled Barramundi with salty crispy skin or corn-fed chicken, tender and moist complemented by an earthy wild mushroom and barley risotto. If you are lucky, the talented pastry chef will have Warm Molten Chocolate Tart on the menu – a delightful dish of crumbly chocolate pastry that gives way to a rich and gooey chocolate centre, served with the rather special homemade parsnip ice cream.
Flutes Restaurant. Bar, National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, #01-02, Singapore 178897, Tel: (+65) 6338 8770, www.flutes.com.sg
National Kitchen – Topnotch Singaporean
National Kitchen at The National Gallery is national treasure Violent Oon’s second restaurant in Singapore. After a look-see around the gallery, meet the girls for lunch at this restaurant which manages to combine Singapore’s melting pot of Indian, Peranakan, Malay and Singaporean food offerings under one classy roof.
Ambiance: Glitzy chandeliers, dark walls adorned with old black and white photographs and ceilings lined with pretty Peranakan tiling.
Lunch Menu: A la Carte only
Eat: Dishes are best shared. Order some pickles for the table: Try Pineapple Patcheree ($4), an interesting blend of pineapple yoghurt, chillies and curry leaves, then nibble on Chicken Satay ($15) and Kuay Pie Tee ($17). For mains, the legendary Beef Rendang ($22) – a deeply flavoured curry rich with sambal and spices, some Dry Laksa with Prawn ($22) and the heavenly Meatless Meatballs Rendang ($15) made of walnuts and mozzarella and slathered with spiced tomato coconut gravy. Don’t miss their house-made sodas (like the scrumptious Ginger Beer) and for dessert, order the Grated Tapioca Cake ($9) which comes with a side of coconut cream.
National Kitchen, National Gallery Singapore, 1 Saint Andrew’s Road, #02-01, Tel: (+65) 9834 9935, www.violetoon.com
Open Farm Community – Hidden Foodie Garden
OFC is one of our all time favourites! We’ve already written about how kid -friendly this spot is, but OFC is classy enough to pop in sans bebes for some proper adult time. The garden-to-table philosophy (by Edible Gardens) ensures much of the herbs and vegetables are local or grown on site, plates are so prettily plated, the food (designed by Ryan Clift of Tippling Club) is exquisite, and most of the dishes are healthy, too.
Ambiance: set beside a garden in Dempsey for lush alfresco relaxing or if it’s hot out, grab a table indoors – trendy OFC always has a great buzz .
Lunch Menu: A la Carte
Eat: Fermented Carrot Tartare ($24), a vegetarian take on the “tartare” experience is a colourful and fun start to the meal – carrots make up the main tartare and a variety of condiments including capers and raw egg get mixed in. For a more substantial salad try the Caesar Salad with house smoked chicken and jamon ($22). Strozzapreti with 48hr Braised Oxtail ($28) with home made pasta and a rich hearty meaty sauce, and to end on a sweet note, the Lemon Tart with homemade basil ice cream ($17) – an excellent dessert of sweet and sour elements, crumbly tart crust, light as air creamy fillings and of course the herby fresh ice cream made with basil from the garden.
Open Farm Community, 130E Minden Road, Singapore 248819. Tel: (+65) 6471 0306, www.openfarmcommunity.com
Corner House – Fine Dining at the Botanics
Corner House, which has only been open since 2014, has just been awarded a spot at no. 17 on the San Pellegrino/Acqua Panna Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants List.
Singaporean Chef Jason Tan creates beautiful French-inspired cuisine that he has named ‘Gastro-Botanica’ — incorporating sustainable fish, meat and poultry with as many herbs and plants as possible.
Ambiance: Grand black and white colonial house in the middle of the Singapore Botanic Gardens (where Au Jardin used to be), with a fresh feel and glass paneled dining room upstairs.
Lunch Menu: Set
Eat: There are only set menus at this restaurant — on offer for lunch is 3 courses at $48, 4 courses $58, or the 5 course Discovery Menu at $98 (plus supplements depending on your choice). Service is of note and the food is both stunning and delicious. The 3-course lunch might see Japanese Kingfish Tartare with fennel, grapefruit, mentaiko, basil, and home-made crackers to start, followed by Atlantic Cod with Savoy cabbage, smoked bacon and a shellfish emulsion, ending with Vanilla poached pear, crème fraîche and almond crumble for dessert. Highlights from the Discovery Menu include the Carabinero Prawns, where the variety of tomatoes in different shapes, sizes and forms (including a white mousse derived from tomato essence with olive oil beads) steals the show, plus there is Foie Gras and Lobster on offer too. This is an impressive, refined oasis in the middle of the lush Botanics – definitely one for gourmand sophisticates!
Corner House, 1 Cluny Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens (Nassim Gate entrance), Singapore 259569. Tel: (+65) 6469 1000, www.cornerhouse.com.sg
ChoPSuey Café – Colonial Anglo-Chinese
ChoPSuey Café (owned by PS Café group) offers modern Anglicised Chinese dining with the lush backdrop of green Dempsey.
Ambiance: Colonial black-and-white colour scheme, wicker chairs, beautiful floral arrangements and high ceiling fans. Dine in the cool aircon main restaurant or the covered verandah with whirring fans. The highly atmospheric alfresco seating is only open at night – well worth checking out.
Lunch Menu: A la Carte
Eat: The full dim sum menu is available for lunch – choose tasty morsels from Cod and Pumpkin Dumplings to Char Siew Pau. Or keep things simple and order the Steamed Dim Sum Basket ($16). There are lots of healthy options on the menu, too: a delicious salad version of Pad Thai ($24), Grilled Pork and Roasted Coconut salad ($16) of sweet and sour, soft and crunchy textures, the Summer Rice Paper Roll Salad ($14) and DIY Lettuce Cups with minced chicken, pork and herbs ($16). Dishes are good for sharing Asian-style, so for mains plump for Numbing Pork Ribs ($29), beef Rusty Nails ($24) or Tingling Chilli Jam Prawns ($26). Desserts, which PS Café traditionally excels in, are worth a few extra burpies at the gym. The dessert menu is impressively long, to name just a few: Hummingbird Pavlova ($16) with pineapple passion fruit and mango, Chili Chocolate Cake ($16), and steamed old Ginger Root Pudding ($15) served warm crème anglaise and ice cream. Just make sure you get enough spoons to go around!
ChoPSuey Café, Block 10 Dempsey Road, #01-23, Tel: (+65) 9224 6611, www.pscafe.com/chopsuey-cafe-at-dempsey-hill
Open Door Policy – Trendy Tiong Bahru
Ambiance: ODP is a little quieter midweek for lunch, which is just as well as this narrow restaurant with one long row of tables can get pretty hectic and buzzing at its busiest.
Lunch Menu: A la Carte and Set
Eat: Weekdays see a lunchtime set of $35 for 3 courses with a glass of wine. This might be Caesar Salad with Horseradish Dressing and Smoked Chicken, Pan Seared Seabass with Panzanella Salad, and Steamed Chocolate Sponge with Brown Sugar Ice-cream and Home made honeycomb. A la Carte dishes to recommend include the Black Cod with Masala Veloute ($32) – a satisfying dish of well cooked cod infused with curry leaves and a hint of spice, or the Pumpkin Tortelli with Pesto, Local Yabbies and confit cherry tomatoes ($26) with some sharing sides of Warm Broccoli and Spinach Salad with Pine Nuts and Feta ($12) and Roasted Cauliflower with Yoghurt Dressing ($12). Chocolate addicts: don’t miss the Hazelnut Chocolate Mousse Cake ($18) for a stunning upscale Ferrero Rocher-inspired dessert.
Open Door Policy, 19 Yong Siak St, Singapore 168650, Tel: (+65) 6221 9307, www.odpsingapore.com
Pollen – Fine Dining Gardens By Bay
Ambiance: Pollen has a formal yet bright ground floor dining room with glass windows looking onto the parameter of the Gardens By The Bay. Expect it to be chilly inside thanks to the Flower Dome’s temperature controlled climate (so bring a cardi or borrow one of the restaurant’s pashminas).
Lunch Menu: A la Carte and Set
Eat: The set menu encompasses 3 courses, for $55, which includes buggy transfers from the main car park entrance to the restaurant as well as complimentary access to the Flower Dome. Amuse bouche of homemade hummus with dukkah, crusty olive and sourdough bread and whipped kefir butter will whet your appetite. The cuisine here is modern British-European with accents from Asia, as the new Head Chef Angelo Rosso (previously from The Fat Duck by Heston Blumenthal) brings flavours from his recent global adventures to the kitchen. Start with a refreshing Passion Fruit Marinated Trout with Red Onion Salsa, or the deep scarlet coloured Roasted Beetroot with creamy Buffalo Mozzarella, followed by a beautiful loin of tender Venison with homemade sauerkraut and a complementary sweet salad of berries. The cheeseboard sees quite a lot of attention, or end with a satisfyingly sweet note of Irish Coffee on a plate — Baileys ice cream, milk sponge cake, coffee curd and chocolate soil.
Pollen, Gardens by the Bay, 18 Marina Gardens Dr, Singapore 018953, Tel: (+65) 66049988, www.pollen.com.sg
Empress – Classy classic Cantonese, River Views
Empress affords lovely views of Boat Quay over the water with its location on the Singapore River, flanked by the Asian Civilizations Museum.
Ambiance: During the day the glass panels are shut, separating alfresco Empress Bar and the main Empress restaurant. Despite being a rather classic Cantonese restaurant, the classy interiors are all geometric patterns and modern ambient lighting.
Lunch Menu: A la Carte and Set
Eat: You’ll find a selection of traditional Cantonese fare here from the selection of lunchtime dim sum to roast meats like the Royal Peking Duck with pancakes ($38/half). For a lighter lunch, there’s a whole section for salads like the Kale, Broccoli and Lotus Crisp Salad ($16), or the Aromatic Duck Salad ($18) to go with your five piece Dim Sum Platter ($9.8), while fried rice comes with brown rice for a little extra wholesomeness – try the Fried Brown Rice ($20/30/40) with mushrooms, pine nuts and Goji berries. While the mains are fairly traditional, desserts lean right over to the West so save room for some sumptuous treats like the Sticky Date and Longan Pudding ($12) with super food Goji berry swirl ice cream, and the aromatic Cempedak Crème Brûlée ($13) topped with both fresh and dried jackfruit.
Empress, 1 Empress Place, #01-03, Asian Civilisations Museum, Singapore 179555 Tel: (+65) 6238 8733, www.empress.com.sg
Common Man Coffee Roasters – Early Bird Coffee Lovers
This spot is pretty wall to wall on the weekends so come midweek and you just might bag a table (they don’t do reservations).
Ambiance: The space is small and tables are close together so come for a casual catch up with your bestie rather than lunch with the whole gaggle of girls.
Lunch Menu: A la carte
Eat: Coffee is the name of their game (they have four different house blends and can talk all sorts of coffee-speak if you are so inclined), but the food is good too – especially breakfast items, which are happily served all day. Their eggs are organic orange-yolked beauties; try the Green Pea Fritters with Poached Eggs and Pancetta ($22) or our absolute favourite, the Turkish Breakfast with phyllo wrapped soft boiled eggs, crispy feta, Turkish salad, hummus and pita. If you’re after more of a lunch menu (from 11:30am onwards), there’s Cold Buckwheat Soba Noodle Salad ($19), the protein hit of Chilli Chicken with Crushed Avocado Salsa ($25), or the Common Man Burger ($29) with provolone, onion aioli house-made pickle.
Common Man Coffee Roasters, 22 Martin Road #01-00, Tel: (+65) 6836 4695, www.commonmancoffeeroasters.com
PS Palais Renaissance – Upmarket Casual
Ambiance: Ok we know we said no malls but… PS Café do such great interiors (black and white tiling, amazing floral arrangements) that the atmosphere whisks you away from that stuffy mall feeling so this is our little exception. Also given they have branches at Dempsey and Ann Siang Hill you can always find a location that suits.
Lunch Menu: A la carte
Eat: Superfood Salad ($26) of broccoli, baby spinach, blueberries, pumpkin, seeds and almonds or go for a Quiche ($22-25) or one of their Soup + Sandwich options ($25) like: the soup of Roasted Roma Tomatoes with sheep’s milk feta and chilli pesto and the sarnie of Chicken Ceasar on Linseed Sourdough. Of course what you’ve really got your eye on is that heaving counter of cakes – from Flourless Orange to Double Chocolate Blackout – order one doorstopper of a slice to share.
PS Palais Renaissance, Palais Rensaissance, 390 Orchard Road, Level 2, S 238871, Tel: (+65) 9834 8232, www.pscafe.com/pscafe-at-palais-renaissance
House – Weekday High Tea
Too late for lunch, too early for dinner? House covers that sweet spot in-between with their Thursday to Friday high tea from 3-5pm.
Ambiance: Casual-cool eclectic open plan House overlooks the dense canopy of jungle behind Dempsey. Thanks to the set price, this is a great one to do a big girls gathering without worrying about orders arriving at different times and the bill spiralling out of control.
Lunch Menu: Buffet
Eat: High tea is a buffet affair divided into savoury and sweet offerings with a choice of three teas thrown in, plus a lip-smacking, freshly made basil lemonade. Herbs are strewn into many of the dishes (thanks to their link to Edible Gardens) so expect salads of microherbs, good quality leaves and tomatoes, plus skinny style pizzettes (on tortilla crisps) of mushroom, squid ink and squid. Salmon cream cheese rolls, marinated sweet pepper feta cups, American sliders, a sandwich station with sliced roast beef and chicken. For miniature sweets, make a beeline for the incredibly moreish curry leaf-infused brownies studded with sea salt. They also do a good cheesecake, mini chocolate chilli cupcakes, crumbly basil shortbreads, charcoal “scones” with jam and cream, fruit tarts and doughnuts. As with any buffet, wear something floaty (no tight belts!).
House , 8D Dempsey Rd, Singapore 249672, Tel: (+65) 64757787, www.dempseyhouse.com