As you prepare for get-togethers this festive season, we uncover the best dining spots to fit every theme.
E J H Corner House, 1 Cluny Road,
Nassim Gate, Singapore Botanic Gardens,
tel: 6469-1000. Open Tue-Sat, noon to 3pm, 6.30-11pm; Sunday, 11.30am-3pm (brunch), 6.30-11pm.
Surrounded by greenery, it sees natural light in the day and transforms into an intimate setting by night. There is no a la carte menu. Choose from either a three-course ($42) or five-course ($88) set lunch, and a four-course set ($98) or the Discovery Menu Experience ($248) for dinner. Chef and co-owner Jason Tan’s take on gastro-botanica has elements of molecular gastronomy (think foam and jellies that burst in the mouth), but the focus is on herbs and greens – some as unusual as an oyster leaf which has a briny, metallic aftertaste similar to oysters. Exquisitely prepared, this is food meant to be savoured and experienced, and every bite is a discovery of textures and tastes. Veggies are showcased here, with tomatoes prepared in different ways as the star of the dish in the Carabinero Prawns, where the juicy crustacean, poached then grilled, becomes an accompaniment. The humble onion is elevated to a signature dish with the sweet Cevennes Onion prepared four ways: as a hollowed onion cup filled with onion puree, 62 deg C egg and black truffles; as a tart; as a chip; and as an emulsion of onion confit and cream with Earl Grey tea poured over for a temperature contrast. And there’s the Crispy Scales Cod with puffed-up scales, paired with roasted beetroot and caramelised beetroot. We delighted in the chef ’s interpretation of local flavours, from the cone-shaped ham chim peng-like croissant, to Chef’s Kaya Toast. Inspired by Yakun, and using the local chain’s kaya, the coconut jam is turned into a sandwich of sorts, with yuzu sorbet and gula melaka. – Penelope Chan
FOR FAMILY CELEBRATIONS
VIOLET OON SINGAPORE
881 Bukit Timah Road, tel: 6468-5430.
Open Tue-Fri, 12-3pm, 6-10.30pm; Sat & Sun, 9am-10.30pm.
Photo: Violet Oon Singapore’s website
Reminiscent of an elegant French bistro, the revamped Violet Oon Singapore oozes panache with its white-marble-on-black-wood look, adorned with gold-trimmed panels of intricate Peranakan tiles. While the vibe is all Parisian chic, the food retains its soulful emphasis on rib-sticking Nonya and local fare, presented with a modern eye, and served with fine-dining care. Take for instance, the Cod in Creamy Laksa Sauce ($32). The luscious laksa sauce, inflected with a fragrant coriander pesto, imparts a familiar Straits flavour to the baked cod. Aunt Nanny’s Daging Chabek ($35), an Indonesian Peranakan dish of slow-braised beef in gula melaka and coconut gravy, is prepared with beef cheeks instead of the tougher cuts used in traditional (and more frugal) cooking. The walnut-and-cheese balls in the Meatless Meatballs Rendang ($17) retain a winsome bite, bolstered by the kaffir- and bay leaf-infused coconut cream sauce. Mop it all up with the Nasi Kunning ($3.50), glutinous and jasmine rice seasoned with turmeric and steamed with coconut milk; but consider too, the lacy Roti Jala ($7) pancake that’s prepared fresh on the griddle. Since desserts are a quintessential part of the experience, be sure to order the dainty morsels of Mini Kueh Sarlat ($7), the voluptuously rich and moist Sugee Cake ($12), and the crowd-pleasing Pulot Hitam ($12) served with coconut ice cream. – Mia Chenyze
FOR KIDS’ TREATS
THE PIZZA COLLECTIVE
#01-12 Bugis+, 201 Victoria Street,
tel: 6509-3850. Open daily 11am-10pm.
Pizzas belong to that rare class of dishes that wins universal appreciation… until you realise the kids all want different sauce bases and toppings. But you can now skip that tricky act of getting the whole family to compromise, and be reassured that the pizzas here are as much for adult tastes as they are kid-friendly. An offshoot of the Les Amis Group’s Peperoni Pizzeria, The Pizza Collective’s brilliant idea is to let everyone personalise their own thin-crust pizza ($12 for a 10.5-inch pie), from the crust (original or herb-infused) and sauce base (white, red or oriental) to as many toppings as they’d like from a mind-boggling three-part list (segmented into cheese, meat and veggies). The selection of ingredients boasts premium choices such as mozzarella balls, blue cheese, roast pork, cooked salmon, and zucchini. You can pick your drizzle sauces too: spicy, coke, barbecue, olive oil or wasabi aioli. Or, try one of the signature pizzas ($12). We loved the toothsome combination of mozzarella and chicken rendang in Rendang Power. And Monkey Business hit the right comfort-food notes: banana, Nutella and almond flakes. – Simone Wu
FOR A GIRLS’ NIGHT OUT
TIN HILL SOCIAL
Horse City, 100 Turf Club Road, tel: 6466-0966.
Open Tue-Fri, 10am to midnight; Sat & Sun, 9am to midnight.
Photo: Tin Hill Social’s website
Get away from the city and enjoy a relaxing meal at this lush space off Bukit Timah Road. Whether you’re sitting al fresco or within the airy repurposed stables, the breezy farm-house style of the place is idyllic. Start with the Beetroot Salad ($17) of pink- and golden-hued slow-cooked beetroot, pickled onions and creamy goat’s cheese. The Beef Tartare ($22), scooped into a hollowed-out bone marrow with condiments on the side, is a great appetiser to share. We love the comforting Tin Hill Social’s Seafood Stew ($30) for its briny prawn bisque and the generous portion of black cod, prawns, calamari, clams and mussels. The restaurant specialises in smoking its food with hay, so you’ll do well to order the Hay-smoked Pulled Pork and Pancetta Pizza ($29), and Hay-infused Panna Cotta ($10) with spiced honey sauce. – Mia Chenyze
FOR CELEBRATIONS WITH COLLEAGUES
OPEN FARM COMMUNITY
130E Minden Road, tel: 6471-0306. Open Mon-Fri,
noon-3pm, 6-10pm; Sat & Sun 11am-10pm.
Photo: Open Farm Community’s website
Try the Fermented Carrot Tartare ($24): The root vegetable is fermented and minced, then served with condiments like gherkins, shallots and gochujang (Korean fermented chilli paste) on the side for you to mix in. The taste is quietly alluring, with the carrot’s familiar sweetness bolstered by earthy undertones. The Chilled Avocado and Ginger Soup ($20) with poached yabbies (a type of crayfish) is surprisingly bright in flavour, with the gorgeous blue pea flower lending an unexpected sweet tinge. If it’s hearty you’re looking for, dive right into the house-made pasta section which takes a no-holds-barred approach towards flavour, without succumbing to cloying richness. The Strozzapreti with 48-hour Barolo Braised Oxtail ($26) picks up all the complex nuances of the beefy sauce with fork-tender beef and al dente strozzapreti, which resembles loosely furled fusilli. The Pumpkin and Pine Nut Tortellini ($24), laced in OFC’s very own “Minden” pesto, balances the yielding, honeyed creaminess of the tortellini with the plump yabbies, and a faint tartness from the micro tomatoes. For dessert, the citrusy Lemon Tart with Basil Ice Cream ($17) impresses with its clever savoury surprise. Presented like a strudel with layers of lemon curd between sable biscuits, there are swirls of jelly-like chia seeds soaked in a basil-lemon oil. Polish it all off with a cappuccino to stave off the afternoon slump. – Mia Chenyze
Simply Her Team, November 2015
Main photo: Open Farm Community’s website