Recently renovated sky-high brewery restaurant LeVeL33 now boasts three different concepts in one space, including elevated beer-inspired dining at its new dining room.
It’s hard to imagine that urban gastrobar and microbrewery LeVeL33 – perched atop Marina Bay Financial Centre smack in the middle of Singapore’s Central Business District – started almost a decade ago; that kind of longevity is unparalleled in Singapore’s cutthroat F&B scene, especially considering the, umm, sky-high rents it’s likely to be paying not just for space for dining but also to house its brewery equipment. In fact when it was first founded by Dr. Martin Bém back in 2010, the idea was radical to the point of absurdity – for example, specialised cranes were required to hoist the massive mash tuns and fermentation tanks from the outside to the 33rd floor where it was located before the level’s floor-to-ceiling glass windows were even installed. But nine years is a long time, and LeVeL33 recently concluded extensive renovations that sees a redesigned layout complete with three different concepts in one streamlined space.
Now it wasn’t so much that the concept was tired – nobody tires of the view LeVeL33 offers of Singapore’s city skyline – but Dr. Bém was keen to redefine the different experiences his venue offered. Its outdoor Terrace remains largely untouched; many visitors, especially those from overseas, request the prime al-fresco seat the space offers given the opportunity of chugging a few locally made brews paired with the amazing view of the Marina Bay waterfront.
What used to be a massive dining space indoors flanking its sprawling bar – now with a new “floating tap” system – has been split into two. On one side is LeVeL33 Social, proffering a more casual form of dining complete with an oyster bar; here’s where raucous friends can gather for an evening of sophisticated pub grub, beer and plenty of laughter.
It’s the other end, the LeVeL33 Dining Room which has, in my opinion, seen the most change. But it’s not the physical space we’re referring to – even if it’s certainly more elegant and refined than what it was before. Here executive chef ArChan Chan has been given free reign to express her culinary creativity and her new menu is now degustation-style; diners pick from either a two-, three-, five- or nine-course option and supplement with sides or snacks as desired.
Making food with beer, making beer for food.
It isn’t as if LeVeL33 hasn’t offered beer-focused menus before. Yet what’s truly impressive about the new menu is how Chef ArChan has taken beer-inspired dining to a whole new level when it comes to integrating beer-making ingredients into dishes. Many brewery restaurants around the world recommend beer and food pairings; a number would even use spent grain – usually in the name of sustainability – and sometimes its beers and incorporate those into their food. At LeVeL33, Chef ArChan utilises by-products from almost every aspect of the brewing process.
It’s easy to make bread with spent grain, for example, and LeVeL33 does that with its housemade bread offered with your degustation meal. But spent grain in your pasta, like in her remarkably delicious – and totally vegetarian – Spent Grain Linguine, Seaweed Butter, Parmesan, Truffle?
It’s also common to see beer used in the making of different dishes – think beer battered fish and chips, or the broth in Belgian-style mussel pots – and LeVeL33 does that too but with more panache; porter that’s folded into the cheese filling for its gougère snack, its wheat beer mixed into a dashi for its Chawanmushi, Shiitake, Oscetria Caviar, a glaze for its Aged Duck Breast, Grilled Endive made with its IPA, and a jus for its Wagyu Tri-Tip, Burnt Eggplant (above) rendered from stout.
But Chef ArChan goes further. Many steps further. She mixes wort with vinegar to create a delectable vinaigrette to dress your freshly shucked oysters. There’s her use of beer and its by-products in curing, pickling and fermentation; Chef ArChan’s Kingfish, Sashimi, Cucumber, Tapioca (below) employs thinly-sliced fish first wrapped in lager-marinated kombu – which comes atop a “soil” from pulverised spent grain and dried nori – while her Japanese-style nukazuke pickles are made using spent grain instead of rice bran.
These techniques extend to desserts as well; the petit fours that come as part of the degustation menu are similarly inspired.
I could go on, but suffice to say that while many of its contemporaries in the brewery restaurant space merely pay lip service to the idea of incorporating beer and its by products into their offerings, Chef ArChan has somehow managed to pull off a beer-inspired dining menu in a near fine dining setting. And with aplomb, too. As someone who’ve travelled the world visiting breweries around the world, I’ve not seen beer-inspired dining anywhere near this.
The past decade has seen LeVeL33 pull in the crowds for the spectacular view it offers of Singapore’s city scape while partaking of a beer; the next one may just attract visitors for the incredibly high bar set by such beer-focused cuisine.
LeVeL33 Dining Room’s degustation menu goes at S$68++, $83++, S$98++ and S$138++ for its 2-course, 3-course, 5-course and 9-course options respectively.
Address #01-09, Singapore 257840 8 Marina Blvd, #33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, Singapore 018981 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 11.30am to 12mn Mondays to Thursdays; 11.30am to 2am on Fridays; 12nn to 2am on Saturdays; and 12nn to 12mn on Sundays