Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Basilico's best dishes, Halcyon & Crane's atypical brunch, Rebel Rebel, and more
Where we dined this week...
Halcyon & Crane
The last time we visited Halcyon & Crane was two years earlier, pre-pandemic and pre-head chef Sam Poh. Naturally, the revisit felt long overdued, especially with the new menu in place. With the appointment of a new chef, things would be different. And for Halcyon & Crane, save for its soothing cosy interiors which supercedes anything else in Paragon, the grub here took a turn for the better. Like before, it still stands by western brunch spiked with Sichuanese flavours (much like its sister establishment Birds of a Feather), and with that ethos, you start with a plate of their mentaiko fries. No question about that. Straight cut fries meet torched mentaiko mayo laid abundantly over before topping it off with black and orange tobiko — for more flavour and a smoky finish that you won't be able to find within any stack of truffle fries. Then there's the Dan Dan Spaghetti to save room for. It looks reasonably simple when served up, but this dish involves quite a bit of prep work just to seal in an explosion of flavours. Pork lard is first rendered for its fats, and the lard is rendered evenly — yes it's a precise process. After which, minced pork and various spices are thrown in over fire, before meeting a special blend of chilies (including the Sichuan peppercorns, dried chili, and H&C's homemade red oil). Along with that, there's a peanut sesame sauce that spoons over every noodle strand. The noods are chewy, exceptionally fragrant and bear a hint of numbing spice, sans the urge to choke on every bite. It's a delicate balance and we regret nothing. It's a real star dish, and it also has a sweet counterpart that matches up. The French toast at Halcyon & Crane is done extra crisp over at the edges — credit to its pre-coat of eggs and cereal. The brioche bread is then shallow fried in butter until the cereal turns into a golden crisp. In that process, they've also nailed the middle of pillowy soft before a generous layer of chantiliy cream, berries, and icing sugar. To wash that indulgence down, they do a "latte" where orange yuzu juice is brimmed with coffee ice cubes. If that sounds too experimental for you, there's also a good selection of standard coffees to sate any snob here. —JS
290 Orchard Rd, #03-09 The Paragon, Tel: 6416 4886
Opening hours: Fri - Sun (11am-9:30pm), Mon-Thur (11am-9pm)
When it comes to the nexus for culinary accomplishments, Regent Singapore pretty much has that in the bag. Michelin stars and World's 50 Best accolades aside, lies Basilico. The everyday dining sphere firmly rooted on serving up Italian fare has been a trusty fixture of the hotel. It's decadently stocked with quality produce — from parma ham, prosciutto, organic tomatoes, artisanal cheeses, to seasonal vegetables. Celebrating 12 outstanding years, the restaurant presents the Best of the Best menu — while reviving a few beloved dishes that its fanbase would appreciate. To start, a pork belly smoked with wild fennel seeds laid atop braised sour cabbage and caramelised apples. While it was reminiscent of the fatty crisps from our traditional roast meat vendors, the sweet tangy touch to the crackling pork was divine altogether. Along the way, make sure to order the signature stuffed pizza here — that takes inspiration from piadina, a closed Emilia-Romagna bread filled with cheese and parma ham. Basilico's rendition back in 2009 — under the hands of head chef Angelo Ciccone — is loaded with mascarpone, provolone, and a three-milk Robiola and showered with shaved Norcia black truffle. As it isn't exactly what any Italian chef would label traditional, the dish's origins definitely came from our own shores. The result is a oozy, molten slice that will have you giddy after just one bite. Another standout: a chargrilled octopus, tenderly cooked and adorned with potato, beans and tomatoes, came through with an earthy pesto emulsion. The true winner in our books though, had to be the risotto alla Pugliese, a creation of current head chef Luca Beccalli. Where South meets North Italy, the former that's known for the sweet, pristine seafood, and the latter touted for the consumption of grains and rice. The dish bridges the two regions — Carnaroli rice splashed with Prosecco and simmered in fish stock, envelops top-of-the-line seafood (of scallops, meaty lobster, juicy tiger prawns). No flavours were too overpowering, but instead, worked in tandem with each other. That's certainly what we would call, a worthy tribute to the best of the best to follow through the years ahead. —JS
1 Cuscaden Rd, Level 2 Regent Singapore, Tel: 6725 3232
Opening hours: Tues-Fri (12pm-2:30pm, 6pm-9:30pm), Sat-Sun (11:30am-3pm, 6pm-9:30pm), Mon (12pm-3pm, 6pm-9:30pm)
Chef Deborah Yeo, formerly at Burnt Ends and The Ledge by Dave Pynt, lends her touch to Rebel Rebel's tenacious menu. This wine bar hardly compromises on its food, so if you were expecting a mere charcuterie board with cold cuts and cheeses to go with your wines, you thought wrong. First things first, sourdough coupled with a side of rich, whipped pork fat that had farro and barley on top. The sourdough was quick to remind us of the chef's experience at Burnt Ends, with its perfectly flaky outsides and fluffy insides. The prawn uni paste brown butter toast was up next, reminiscent of otah toast with a tangy twist, thanks to the finishing squeeze of a few limes. Locally sourced fresh prawns were pounded and mixed with uni paste, generously layered atop a delightfully crispy toast, then topped off with coriander and spring onion. The first wine we tried was easy to down, the NV Hure Freres L'Invitation Brut from France, a sparkling champagne with just the right amount of acidity. We were then quickly led into the next wine pairing with a tender octopus with sundried tomatoes, coriander, and green chili. Orange wine soon became a surprising favourite, paired immaculately with the seafood ensemble going on, the 2019 Fujimaru Table Top Daidai Iro wine from Japan had the right fruity aroma and tropical notes to go with it. This was followed by the pig's head tagliatelle, which had just enough of a spicy kick in their pasta to cut through the fatty flavours of the pork. The paprika-and-cumin-seasoned quail was juicy, albeit a tad bit undercooked for our liking, with the spring onion and quinoa tabbouleh that went brilliantly with a 2018 Les Bertrand Beaujolais Rouge Pure Oh Rigine from France. The ripeness of this red wine, owing to its notes of cranberry and sour cherry, had just the right amount of acidity and texture versatile enough to go with the quail and pasta. One thing's for sure, we'll definitely return for more tipples — knowing well that Rebel Rebel's commited to the vinification process alongside building close relations with the winemakers. –AA
14 Bukit Pasoh Rd, Tel: 6224 5466
Opening hours: Tues-Sat (5pm-11pm), Mon-Sun (Closed),
Where we're looking to dine...
Shake Shack Orchard Road
Famous New York burger chain landed on our shores with their first outlet at Jewel sometime in April last year, followed by another head-turner at 89 Neil Road. And despite the pandemic, they are definitely not resting on their laurels — with another outlet slated to open very soon along Orchard Road, Singapore's iconic shopping belt. Beat the hustle and bustle of Singapore by having a few of their fan favourites — 100% angus beef burgers, piping hot crinkle-cut fries, and shack-made lemonade.
Fans of eggs, you'll be egg-static. Los Angeles sandwich brand Eggslut is coming to Singapore early next year. The chain will be brought here by the same folks who operate Shake Shack and Paris Baguette in Singapore – South Korean F&B company, SPC Group. Known for their magnificent egg sandwiches like the Fairfax, featuring soft scrambled cage-free eggs with chives, melted cheddar, caramelised onions and sriracha mayo in a fluffy brioche bun, we can only imagine how long queues are going to be.