A fancy restaurant by one of Sydney’s top chefs, molecular Indian cuisine and a new rooftop bar—these are just some of this month’s hot tables.
With the launch of chef David Almany’s (formerly of Osteria Mozza) Italian-Californian venture, it seems like Gemmill Lane has become a bit of a hidden dining enclave. The no-frills casual restaurant occupies the former premises of Luke’s Oyster Bar & Chop House, offering a restrained but still hearty menu of Italian plates with a Californian slant. The food may lean towards a more robust Italian than breezy Californian, but highlights like Angeleno’s meatballs ($22), served with wood-fired polenza and tomato sauce or the signature veal chop Parmigiana ($75), breaded, deep-fried and served with red sauce and melted mozzarella are still worth a try.
Cheek by Jowl
The restaurant formerly known as Sorrel now has a new modern Australian concept, with chef Rishi Naleendra at the helm. Cheek by Jowl will be launching on Feb 12 and this is what we know so far—it seems like the menu will have a tapas-style inclination towards shareable plates and mains, with seasonal ingredients and Naleendra’s signature duck and waffles dish. There is already a five-course Valentine’s Day tasting menu up (from $95 per person), so if you haven’t already made dinner plans, book it here.
Not to be left behind the recent wave of museum revamps, the Asian Civilisations Museum quietly launched a spanking new (and fancy) dining section. Contemporary Cantonese restaurant Empress, designed by Potato Head Folk’s Takenouchi Webb, is an airy 86-seater space overlooking the Singapore River with interiors featuring modern and chinoiserie elements. The place serves up traditional Cantonese dishes with a local twist, such as the triple roast platter ($28) with Spanish grain-fed Duroc pig, crackling roast pork and char siew; sweet and sour pork ($24) with aged vinegar and lychee and cempedak creme brulee with dried jackfruit ($13).
Izakayas may have lost their shiny new luster, but it seems like the concept isn’t fading away anytime soon. The Les Amis Group has a new laid-back Japanese eatery under its belt, with a varied menu of small plates, skewers, yakimono mains, salads, ramen and udon. While there’s a respectable list of sakes, shochu and beers on tap, it’s clear that the focus is on the food. Sample interesting selections such as the hiyashi chuka ramen ($12.80), with crab meat, salmon roe, shredded chicken and cold noodles; MBS 8 Wagyu namban ($15), spring onion wrapped with sliced Wagyu beef and kitsune natto ($3.50), fried tofu stuffed with fermented beans.
Oxwell & Co.’s Rooftop Bar
The three-storey gastrobar now houses an intimate rooftop bar on the fourth floor, boasting panoramic views of the CBD. The proudly-British theme extends here, with rustic furniture, a refurbished London telephone booth and a mini herb garden. The cocktail menu is designed exclusively with Hendrick’s Gin, and it revolves around botanical elements. Expect solid and refreshing G&T creations like Bathtime ($60), a cucumber and thyme punch bowl, and the Clover Club Street ($22). They are still tweaking their their cocktails at the moment—so for updates, check their Facebook here.
Modern Indian restaurant Saha may have exited their former Duxton Hill premises with nary a whisper, but here’s hoping that the National Gallery will serve as a better setting for Abhijit Saha’s inventive take on traditional Indian cuisine. It’s not a complete reinvention of regional Indian dishes, but there are interesting plates done up with molecular, deconstructed methods for both vegetarians and omnivores, like the kerala vegetable istew ($26) and kasoori methi seared foie gras ($36). And if you’re not quite sure about the concept, crowd-pleasers like the vegetarian tandoori baked brie ($20), pan-seared kokum and pepper duck breast ($38) and Bengali-style red snapper curry ($32) should ease you into the experience.
Joining South Beach Quarter’s glittery lineup of slick bars and restaurants like Vanity and ADHA, is stylish gastro-bar The Armoury. The all-day establishment serves an elevated take on typical pub grub, like fries fried in duck fat ($8), gourmet sandwiches, burgers gussied up with ingredients like avocado and crispy pork belly, and English-cut beef short ribs braised in sweet port wine jus ($79). For drinks, there are craft beers from countries like Germany, the US and UK, cocktails, spirits, wines and Champagnes, and old favorites like whiskies, rum and gins from names like Hendrick’s, Monkey 47 and Mccallan.
Chef-owner Sam Aisbett, who has worked with Sydney’s big-name chefs like Tetsuya Wakuda and Peter Gilmore, has launched a modern Australian-Asian fine dining restaurant at Chijmes. The tourist hot spot may seem like an unexpected location for this chi-chi venture, but it’s a refreshing addition to the area. Using native Australian ingredients, some of which are completely new to Singapore, Whitegrass offers degustation-only menus with five (from $170) or eight (from $265) course options featuring progressive plates such as slow cooked Mangalica pork and tiger abalone, with fermented cabbage, white turnip, fiddlehead fern, seaweed and pork broth; and Hokkaido scallops with pickled melon, pistachio and emu apple. Reservations are highly recommended here, so make one now or you might have to wait weeks to snag a table at one of the hottest restaurants since Odette.