Three to try: Meat Smith @ Cocotte, The Summerhouse, The Garage
Gird your appetite
The people at 1-Group have been busy bees the last couple of months, opening new restaurants all over town. Their latest two boast lush garden settings that leave you no choice but to linger long after your meal. The Summerhouse — set in an 80-year-old mansion that was once the home of the Royal Air Force's Tech Wing Commander — makes the journey to the far reaches of Seletar worth the schlep. Wildseed Café on the first floor offers a calming escape, with coffee from local roasters Nomad The Gallant and cakes in inventive local flavours like Butterfly Pea Muffins (think pulut inti in cake form) and Torched Ginger Banana Loaf. Come sundown, Wildseed Bar serves a menu of equally creative cocktails and exotic gins.
Take a stroll through the expansive edible garden and you'll find sprouting herbs and vegetables that make their way into chef de cuisine Florian Ridder's seasonal specials. At The Summerhouse Dining Room and Balcony Bar on the second floor, chef Ridder's streamlined menu focuses on produce from local and regional farms, and includes refreshingly original creations such as beetroot pickled in raspberry vinegar with a surprise centre, and a comforting buckwheat porridge sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds.
3 Park Lane. Tel: 6262 1063
Cloistered away in the Cluny Park end of the Singapore Botanic Gardens, The Garage — also by 1-Group — offers serene garden seating at its Bee's Knees Café. At breakfast, there are wholesome waffles, house-made cereals and cakes, while throughout the day, a simple menu of pastas, pizzas and sandwiches make it an excellent pit stop after a walk in the park. The historical building's curved entryways hint at its past life as a garage bay for cars belonging to professors at the nearby college. The building has also served as a school of ornamental horticulture and later on, office space for the Botanic Gardens' Horticulture Department.
It is fitting, then, that on the second floor today, Head Chef Antonio Oviedo serves a menu of Asian-inflected modern European cuisine informed by natural, seasonal ingredients. Aptly named Botanico, the restaurant has already won fans for dishes like Lamb Tartare, Cured and Grilled Spanish Mackerel, and Char-grilled Carabinero Prawns with Spanish Bomba Rice. If you're not hungry, belly up to the adjacent "hidden garden bar" for delicious plant-inspired cocktails like the refreshing Blackberry Lychee Mojito.
50 Cluny Park Road, Singapore Botanic Gardens. Tel: 6264 7978
Meat Smith @ Cocotte
This three-month-long pop-up that runs until 31 April 2017 sees head chef of Meat Smith Andrew Baldus dish out a menu of Indian-inspired Southern American barbecue creations from the colourful confines of Cocotte in Little India. The compact list of creative dishes includes delightful grub like a Crab and Uni Biryani made with puffed rice, saffron aioli and lots of fresh herbs; Butter Chicken Wings that will make you wonder why it took this long for someone to think up something so obviously delicious; and Grilled Kingfish Collar with Eggplant and Coconut Sambal. Don't come expecting typical Indian fare, though. "If that's what you want, there's plenty of real Indian food around here (Little India)," said Baldus. "We went with the Indian theme because of where the restaurant is (located), so while the food has some (Indian flavours), we stay true to our smokehouse theme."
2 Dickson Road. Tel: 6298 1188