BY THE RIVER
A quiet revival has swept through Robertson Quay, injecting a new buzz to the riverside area. “The Robertson Quay neighbourhood was ready for an F&B enclave which would be able to cater to the needs of the residents, and the wider audience out there,” says Kishin RK, CEO of RB Capital Group, who acquired the Quayside enclave in 2012 and the former Gallery Hotel in 2013. He added that what was lacking in the neighbourhood was a well-curated variety of F&B options.
Come October 2017, the area will welcome the launch of Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay. Says Kishin: “The opening of the hotel will be the last piece of the puzzle in the Robertson Quay project, and I’m excited to launch it. This will be Singapore’s first residential-inspired luxury hotel.
“We are going to bring back entertainment to the area with Italian restaurant Publico, Wolfgang Steakhouse, 1880 (a private members’ club), and others.”
The area will certainly see an even larger crowd, many of whom would be looking to let their hair down and enjoy what it has to offer. Kishin’s answer is a sprightly collection of “fine casual” eateries.
Bringing fresh, punchy flavours off the streets of Mexico City to a serene waterfront eatery, and offering pooch-friendly al fresco dining, Super Loco has gone straight to the source to cement its menu’s authenticity. “We are constantly inspired by Mexican food culture – from our annual pilgrimages to Mexico – that honours home cooking, market ingredients, casual dining and good hospitality,” says marketing director Christian Tan.
One of the mainstays is tacos, which come with fillings like achiote-marinated snapper, and spicy chorizo with braised beef brisket. The rest of the menu comprises platters featuring items such as totopos (fresh corn chips), cochinillo (roast suckling pig) and arrachera (grilled skirt steak) – which pair well with artisanal tequilas and mezcals.
Drawing inspiration from the south of another continent, Dabbawalla serves up the unpretentious cuisine of Mumbai. The confluence of cultures in this cosmopolitan city has seen its cuisine take on a life of its own. “The food of Mumbai has influences from all over the country and also particular influences from the Jewish community that settled in India,” explains general manager Sandeep Sachar. The menu has a strong street food influence, with classic street snacks like frankies (fried stuffed rolls) and ragda patties (potato patties with white pea curry) making great India-style tapas. Other items like Dabbawalla Butter Chicken, Railway Mutton Curry and Hyderabadi Baingan (eggplant curry) are spiced up with robust flavours typical of Bombay cuisine.
Going milder on the piquancy yet still bold on aromatics, Summerlong offers Mediterranean fare, along with a welcoming dose of laidback vibes. “Life in the city is hectic, and we wanted to give people a chance to escape to a relaxed atmosphere, without having to travel too far,” shares Rohit Roopchand, director of operations at The Dandy Partnership, which also runs Neon Pigeon and Fat Prince.
The menu offers dishes such as chargrilled octopus with parsnip, garlic and honey; and Persian fried chicken with harissa, dukkah and mint-honey sauce. The dining experience is complete with a refreshing drinks menu featuring concoctions like the Summerlong Spritz, its take on Aperol Spritz, and the 3 Continents, a tropical mix of three rums, pineapple and passion fruit.
Waterfront living is given a luxe update at the new Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay. The 225-room luxury hotel houses studios, suites and an exclusive penthouse, each fitted with custom furnishings and an ensemble of thoughtful amenities.
At the heart of the hotel’s dining concepts is Publico, a spacious multi-concept dining destination featuring Publico Deli, a gourmet delicatessen, which is transformed in the evening to Marcello, Singapore’s first Italian craft cocktail bar and dessert bar. The main dining space here is Publico Ristorante, which offers pizzas and other Italian dishes. The hotel is also home to Wolfgang’s Steakhouse; Quayside Lounge – where you can grab a post-dinner tipple; as well as 1880, a private members’ club with a range of lifestyle facilities.
(RELATED: Lifestyle enclave Quayside set to invigorate Robertson Quay with hotel and dining.)
Challenging the traditional notion of a mall, Downtown Gallery is re-engaging consumers with new retail experiences. “Just as people have social networking sites, Downtown Gallery will be the offline version of one – where it is about people and the social connection they are seeking,” explains Patrina Tan, senior vice-president of retail, marketing and leasing for OUE Limited. Centred on the three pillars of “Keep Well”, “Look Well” and “Eat Well”, the mall also bucks the trend, with F&B outlets accounting for only a third of the tenants, while retail, wellness and other offerings make up the rest of the directory.
Connecting people to honest food is The Providore Downtown. “We wanted to open a flagship that would bring together all our concepts – cafe, deli, bakery, grocer and cooking studio – under one roof,” says Bruce Chapman, managing director and co-founder of The Providore. The flagship also houses the new Fresh & Go concept selling nutritious sandwiches, salads and soups for takeaway, a slow-pressed juice bar, and the Singapore’s largest walk-in cheese room.
Sebastian Ng, chef-owner of Venue By Sebastian, has also found a new home in Downtown Gallery. Formerly of Restaurant Ember, Ng describes his restaurant as a “casual dining experience based on a sharing plates concept”. While you would find Ember signatures like the Chilean seabass, sakura ebi pasta, and crispy homemade tofu with foie gras-mirin sauce coming out of the open kitchen, new creations like cauliflower fritti with spicy mint aioli, and wood-grilled chermoula chicken certainly hold their own.
Another new concept is by the folks behind Assembly and Atlas Coffee, who are brewing up aromatic javas at Lunar Coffee Brewers. In addition to the usual selections, Lunar offers a white cold brew, which also comes in soft serve form. Food-wise, diners can grab a bite of lu rou belly don (braised pork belly rice) or miso-nori salmon soba. “The food at Lunar was born of having worked long hours ourselves, where home-cooked food was a luxury to us,” shares co-founder Daphne Goh.
Opening its second outlet is Patisserie G, which is debuting a new chocolate range. Discloses founder Gwen Lim: “We have enrobed bonbons with flavours like hojicha, white chocolate, and salted caramel. We also have chocolate bars with flavours such as white chocolate and raspberry with salt, and dark chocolate with pistachio or granola.” The store also serves a sake- and champagne-pairing menu. On other developments in the pipeline, Tan shares: “We will be opening OUE Social Kitchen, the first communal cooking kitchen in Singapore. Fitted with 10 cooking stations, this is a shared kitchen concept where people can book a slot in advance to come and cook with their friends and family.
“Later in 2017, we will also be introducing OUE Re: Store, a food service concept, as well as a beauty retail concept, all powered by technology to bring a new and more efficient experience for consumers.”
The new Oakwood Premier OUE is part of OUE Downtown, a mixed-use development with residential, dining, retail and corporate facilities. Perched atop the OUE Downtown skyscraper, the serviced apartments offer a relaxing home for travellers, along with the luxuries and conveniences of a five-star hotel, which comes in the form of an outdoor infinity pool and jacuzzi, fully equipped fitness centre with spa amenities, contemporary lobby bar, outdoor barbecue, residents’ lounge.
The 268 mid- and high-level residences are a mix of stylish studios and well-furnished one- and two-bedroom apartments. Guests are treated to complimentary daily breakfast, housekeeping, 24-hour customer service and in-room dining. Oakwood Premier OUE also has an in-house restaurant, bar and executive club lounge, all managed by an expert culinary team.
NEW FOOD CLUSTER
Tanjong Pagar Centre
As Singapore’s cityscape welcomes its tallest building, diners are also gifted a new go-to spot.
“Standing at 290m tall, Tanjong Pagar Centre is a beacon of modernity symbolising Singapore’s ability to blend its culture and heritage within a modern and thriving economy,” says Valerie Wong, general manager, commercial, at Guocoland Singapore. The space will also host new luxe hotel Sofitel Singapore City Centre, which is set to open in September 2017.
The merging of new and old is echoed in ramen specialist Ippudo opening its first full-service concept – complete with sake bar – in the CBD. Housed in the building’s Urban Park, the restaurant is surrounded by a sprawling network of greenery. Yota Shiiba, executive officer and COO of Ippudo Singapore, shares that the menu will see the return of popular seasonal bowls – the bak kut teh-inspired spicy black ramen, the Chuka Soba with clear chicken broth and yellow noodles, and the rich Hakata Niku Soba – and new sides like aburi beef sushi with ikura, and Teppan Chashu Hamburg (hand-chopped pork patty with raw egg yolk).
Another familiar name which has launched a new concept is Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House. Owner Ricky Ng shares: “The dishes at Chinese Grill House are steeped in Chinese tradition, but finished in the Josper oven.” Essentially a sophisticated indoor barbecue, the eatery has a menu that benefits from this European innovation with creations like hot stone truffle and pork lard rice, and chicken rice paella.
In the area, too, is Spanish restaurant Pura Brasa. “We aim to offer authentic Spanish cuisine at an affordable price,” says director Dane Lim. The Barcelona-based brand offers small plates like patata bravas and grilled mussels, matched with a Spanish-inclined wine list. Mains like charcoal seafood paella, grilled octopus on trinxat de la cerdanya (sauteed sliced potatoes and cabbage), and wagyu ribeye steak showcase the cast iron grill’s prowess.
(RELATED: Why Blue Lotus Concepts MD Ricky Ng is expanding his restaurant empire despite a tough year.)
Sharing an address with Tanjong Pagar Centre, Sofitel Singapore City Centre is parked in the bustling CBD amid shophouses and modern skyscrapers. The 223-room flagship hotel is decked in an earthy palette of soft pastel colours, plush furnishings and elegant feature pieces. Botanical motifs, a nod to the charming geometry of traditional French gardens and Singapore’s moniker of the Garden City, run through the interior.
Heading the F&B outlets is French-born executive chef Jean-Charles, whose modern approach to traditional French cuisine echoes the hotel’s French chic design. Besides leading the in-room dining operations and banquet services, the chef oversees Racines, the hotel’s main restaurant, which serves French classics alongside contemporary Chinese fare prepared by two brigades of chefs using custom-built Marrone stoves from Italy.
PHOTOGRAPHY TAN WEI TE & VERNON WONG ART DIRECTION CHELZA POK & DENISE REI LOW