Where to eat and what's new in Singapore: Cheek Bistro, Botany and an all-new Bacchanalia
Where we dined this week...
After two years of impressing diners with distinctive modern riffs on Aussie plates, chef Rishi Naleendra and his wife, Manuela Toniolo are ready for more. Cheek Bistro models a playful mien, with slight alternations to the décor, like wood furnishings, statement botanicals and oversized bulbs. With the all-new à la carte menu, everything has had a do-over, with the exception of fresh oysters. In a very millennial fashion, waffles start off the experience. Except they're not loaded with whipped cream and bacon but are smeared with chicken liver parfait, encasing a sweet date jam and pickled mustard seeds. A divine combination, bursting with umami. Most dishes here are portioned for sharing, so make your way to small plates next. We tasted the beef tartare, specifically a Westholme rump that lets on a chunky bite, marinated in smoked maple butter and vinaigrette. To complete the dish, puffed millet goes on top, elevating the raw beef with a smokey touch. It's also better savoured on an endive leaf. If you're an artichoke person, Cheek does a tempura style, married with marinated feta and chickpeas. Go big on mains with their lamb ribs. A molten mouthfeel sealed the deal for us, and it became a challenge resisting the urge to cut another bite. Your choice of sides is also pretty apparent here. Naleendra continues to make a convincing case for greens with a good healthy dose of charred broccolini doused in a delectable dressing of watercress, chives, tarragon and tossed with toasted almonds. You certainly won't be hard-pressed to eat your vegetables here, that's for sure. —JS
21 Boon Tat Street, Tel: 6221 1911
Opening hours: (Mon-Fri) 12pm-2.30pm, 6pm-10pm, (Sat) 6pm-10.30pm, Closed on Sundays
Do not be mistaken — despite its name and reputation as a dessert bar, 2am:dessertbar is not all about pleasing the sweet tooth. Dinner kickstarted with savoury dishes such as the deep fried popcorn chicken, crisp on the outside yet retaining tenderness and juiciness on the inside; squared off well with the citrusy lime aioli dip. Next to it, laid a nori cracker as well as a dollop of wasabi mayo, and made complete with a plump grilled prawn atop. We proceeded to the highlights — the desserts with the Soursop Garden, which combined citrus fruits to create a light and refreshing dessert dish. With a base of fresh kiwi marinated with herbs accompanied with fresh grapefruit and soursop sorbet, we enjoyed how the dish was a palate opener for the rest of the desserts. Chocolate lovers would relish in the Pandan Chocolate — a multi-layered cake with pandan sponge, fresh grapes and Japanese black sugar caramel parfait that is first dipped into liquid nitrogen, and then into a bowl of dark chocolate. A signature on its regular menu, the Cacao Forest is visual artistry with a real-life looking cocoa bean made of 72% dark chocolate mousse adorned with banana ice cream, crumble and cotton candy surrounding everything. As you pour the mango sauce over the cotton candy, watch the cotton candy slowly disintegrate and dissolve. The mocktails were concocted with Seedlip, a distilled non-alcoholic spirit and we loved how its addition gave the drinks a non-cloying taste profile that was close to that of a cocktail. —CC
21A Lor Liput, Tel: 6291 9727
Opening hours: (Tue-Fri) 3pm-2am, (Sat) 2pm-2am, (Sun) 2pm-12am
Located by the riverbank of Robertson Quay and neighbour to some of the biggest names in the F&B industry (Toby's Estate and Beast & Butterflies) is Botany. By the same folks who brought you Dazzling Café, it's hard to miss Botany with its floor-to-ceiling glass panels that bring plenty of natural light into the place. Driven by the concept of East-meets-West, wellness and affordability, you can anticipate dishes that vary from Asian household favourites such as Granny Chicken Congee to the fusion uni truffle capellini. While we wished their otah chips could been crispier, we loved the spicy kick and how we were able to see chunky pieces of fish in each bite. The mapo tofu rice bowl was a comforting bowl of goodness — made healthier with the substitution of Impossible Meat. Best way to eat it? Break the sous vide egg on top and mix thoroughly. This will give you a bowl of rice with gooey consistency; almost reminiscent of risotto. Next, we tried the grilled chicken with balinese salsa. The first thing that caught our eye was the generous serving of chicken thigh, air-fried and succulent with its juices and tenderness. You may choose to dip it in the balinese salsa, but we enjoyed the flavourful meat on its own. Arguably the hero dish was the uni truffle capellini. The dish was light on the palate, with hints of truffle that wasn't too overpowering. Make sure to pick up pieces of the uni and fish roe that are bursting with umami flavour. For desserts, don't miss the famed classic honey toast from Dazzling Café. A thick and crusty toast revealed a soft and fluffy interior that has been generously slathered in butter; topped with an indulgent (yet very neccessary) scoop of vanilla ice cream and plenty of homemade whipped cream all over. No regrets. —CC
86 Robertson Quay, Tel: 6951 4861
Opening hours: (Mon-Thur) 9am-10pm, (Fri-Sat) 9am-11pm, (Sun) 9am-10pm
Where we are looking to dine...
Goodbye Bacchanalia. The one-Michelin starred restaurant at Hong Kong Street has officially been rebranded with the name of the chef at helm — Vianney Massot. The restaurant will be taking on a new concept that is akin to "Auteur's table", which simply means that every aspect of the meal will be personally curated. Look forward to a produce-driven French menu that will be changed quarterly and as well as 450 premium wine labels to taste — the bulk of them being French, of course.
39 Hong Kong Street, Tel: 6909 6360
Opening hours: (Tue) 6.30pm-9.30pm, (Wed-Sat) 12pm-2pm, 6.30pm-9.30pm, Closed on Sundays and Mondays
Supper Series at Le Binchotan
An epic makan session will see a collaboration between different chefs that come from different cultural and culinary backgrounds. Think Jeremy Chiam and Sam Chablani (formerly of Fat Lulu's), ArChan Chan of LeVeL33 and Damian D'Silvia of Folklore. Not only will you get to witness their collaborative efforts fuelled by various influences, you'll also get to dig into a feast that you can't get anywhere else.
115 Amoy Street, Tel: 6224 1045
Opening hours: Weekends, from April-June.