Merci Marcel, Publico, Bayswater Kitchen, Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, The Ottomani, Publico and Casa Poncho – it’s a good time to be alive.
Yes we live up to our reputation as a nation of insatiable foodies, but it’s a natural fit when our cafe and restaurant scene just keeps getting better and better. What are we excited about in Singapore’s dining scene? Our roundup of Hot New Tables includes French bistro Merci Marcel, which has made Tiong Bahru possibly even more hip; Riverside gem Publico Ristoranto and deli; Mod-Middle Eastern supper club The Ottomani; Wolfgang’s Steakhouse from NYC; Latino enclave Casa Poncho; Blackwattle, serving up elegant mod-Aus on Amoy; and fresh seafood spot Bayswater Kitchen – our new fave for chilling out on Keppel Bay. Try them all. Now.
Can we just move to Tiong Bahru already? New addition to the neighbourhood Merci Marcel brings the French bistro feel to Singapore in the coolest way possible. The interior is all light and bright with sunshiny yellows, rattan, and just enough greenery spilling over in all the right places; there’s a little courtyard out the back instead of a Parisian pavement; and the vibe is a friendly bustle. The owners are the couple behind Ô Batignolles and sister restaurant O Comptoir and they know how to put together a neat menu of dishes meant to be shared. What we won’t share? The signature Ravioles de Royans, a French specialty from Dauphiné, given divine status thanks to shavings of Tête de Moine cheese. Merci Marcel also sells gourmet food (read: cheese) and wine, and is also independent boutique, offering cool French sunnies, chocolat and even hip watches. We think we’re in love.
Merci Marcel, 56 Eng Hoon Street, #01-68, Tiong Bahru 160056, p. 6224 0113
Within three weeks of Blackwattle opening its doors on Amoy Street, I managed two visits and a stop at Executive chef Clayton Wells’ hot Sydney restaurant, Automata. Yes I’ll travel for his food. Blackwattle’s tasting menu is elegant and intelligent; the space is zero attitude – and that’s just what we love about Australian talent. What do we love about that menu? The silky stormshell clams with rosemary dashi; charred-yet-tender octopus in xo and ink; the striking Stracciatella with shellfish oil (pictured above) and the still-life beautiful steamed fish with roasted lettuce and salsa verde that had everyone at the table trying to guess its nine ingredients. Amoy street has never been more exciting.
Blackwattle, 97 Amoy Street, Singapore 069917, 6224 2232
There’s a new Latino joint in town: Casa Poncho has thrown open its doors in a Bukit Pasoh shophouse that was a mahjong association in its past life, and we like the reincarnation.The imaginary home of mystery character Poncho, it’s a cool, cosy scene that sprawls across a courtyard, bar, terrace and dining space filled with Poncho’s curios. Follow the murals. Come to hang out at Poncho’s pad, and stay for the Dedo de Poncho (chilli cheese churros) beef cheek mole and the signature Poncho el Pulpo (Spanish octopus with ranchera salsa). You’ll find us lingering past our welcome with a Mezcal Negroni in hand.
Casa Poncho, 14 Bukit Pasoh Singapore, 089828, p. 6224 5466
The Intercontinental Hotel has brought the goods to Robertson Quay, and along with it, Publico Ristorante and Deli, and its hidden bar, Marcello. The Deli is a casual all-day breakfast spot and deli counter with its very own retro ice cream cart. After dark, it turns into a dessert café, and opens up to reveal the very hip hidden bar, Marcello. Make sure you pop by for a Milano Fizz courtesy of bar manager Cristiano Beretta, one of the loveliest guys you’ll meet. Stroll a little further by the water and you’ll get to Publico Ristorante – a swish dining space dishing up Italian faves like Risotto ‘alla Milanese’ and spaghetti vongole. What do we really love? The twin wood-fired pizza ovens are a major hint. Sit outside under twinkling lights for a lush al fresco vibe and nurse an Aperol spritz, we say.
Publico, 1 Nanson Rd, Singapore 238909; p. 6826 5041
This mod, Middle-Eastern supper club tucked behind Fat Prince on Peck Seah is one of the best things to happen in the Singapore dining scene this year, and we’re hooked. The music. The clever cocktails served from the bar trolley. The mood. It’s all on point, and we haven’t even started talking about Chef Nic Philips’ brilliant menu yet. Smoked or charred is his thing – you’ll start with his smoked date butter and never look back. Get our full review of Ottomani.
www.theottomani.com; 48 Peck Seah Street, Singapore 079317, p: 9231 9316
Now this is the place to chill. We’re into the nautical vibes at Bayswater Kitchen, which sits pretty at the Marina, Keppel Bay and is impeccably styled. It’s all coastal chic here, but we’re particularly fond of the ping pong table and retro string art. Relaxing by the water makes us want to feast on fresh seafood, natch. Freshly shucked Irish oysters and whipped cod’s roe are a good start, and we think we’ve found the best fish and chips in town here. But the star is the Fisherman’s Feast: handmade linguine, lobster, prawns and seasonal fish in the most comforting seafood stock. Want to make the moment last? Take the lobster shell home to make your own amazing broth.
Bayswater Kitchen, 2 Keppel Bay Vista, 098382, Singapore p. 67760777
When you can source a great grass-fed steak and cook it well at home, there may be some arm-twisting involved to make a night of it at a steakhouse. But we’re happy to put the BBQ tongs away because this is next level. Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, now at the Intercontinental in Robertson Quay, hails from NYC – the original restaurant was launched by father and son duo Wolfgang and Peter Zwiener 13 years ago, and they know what they’re doing. What makes prime Black Angus Porterhouse at $185 for two worth it? Dry ageing in house it for 28 days, hand carving the steak and cooking it to order at 1600F on a grill broiler for a perfectly sealed depth of flavour and ridiculously tender meat. Trust us, you need the German potatoes and creamed spinach for this one, and don’t try this at home, people.
Wolfgang’s Steakhouse, 1 Nanson Road #02-01 Intercontinental Singapore Robertson Quay, Singapore 238909 p. 6887 5885
Like this story? Here’s more to check out:
Hot new cafes: our freshest picks
There will be buffets: all the epic Christmas feasts
Random ramen: the quirkiest twists on ramen springing up in Singapore
Our ultimate guide to cafes by neighbourhood