Here are eight restaurant menus – from a Michelin-starred, fine-dining modern European eatery to a couple of gastrobars – to try before they’re gone.
We’re sure you know the feeling – tasting an excellent dish at a restaurant and vowing to return for it, only to find that it’s off the menu when you visit again some time later. We understand that chefs need to change things up once in a while to keep customers coming back, but the feeling of missing out on a dish you really love can suck.
That’s why we believe that when you do find something you really like on a menu, always let the chefs know (or make sure you keep going back and ordering it until they get the hint).
Here are some dishes on menus from eight different dining establishments we recently visited that we’d totally go back for, and you’d be wise to do the same. For they may never return if they’re gone.
1. Restaurant JAG.
Flying high after landing their Michelin star earlier this year – and barely a year into business – is Restaurant JAG, the contemporary fine-dining restaurant likely impressing inspectors with its classy exploration of author’s cuisine using native herbs from Savoie, France. In fact, it’s the herbs – 40 different hand-selected and harvested herbs from the French Alpine region – that take centrestage here, forming the inspiration behind the dishes from chef-owner Jérémy Gillon.
And because many of those herbs are seasonal, what you get during one season can be very different from another. Which means the dishes vary accordingly as well. The last time we dropped in we were treated to summer herbs the likes of Sureau, Cherry Tomatoes, Pike Eggs, with the herbal bitterness of the elderberry rounding out the sweetness of the tomatoes and the salty fish roe. Then there’s Melisse Sauvage, Walnut, Caviar, Ratte Potato, Veloute, the wild lemon balm providing not only a lovely perfume to the creamy soup but also accenting it with a lemony, minty flavour.
Now we’re not quite sure what manner of herbs a Savoie winter will bring, but we’re pretty confident Chef Gillon knows what to do with them. But in the meantime, head over to Restaurant JAG soonest for a taste of those dishes inspired by summer and autumn Savoie herbs. Oh yes, and make sure you head upstairs to the Lounge Bar for a cocktail or two; they make cocktails using those very same herbs.
Restaurant JAG | 76 Duxton Road, Singapore 089535 (Google Maps link) | 12-2pm and 6-10pm Tuesdays to Fridays; 6-10pm Saturdays; closed on Sundays and Mondays | 3138 8477.
2. The Guild Singapore.
Opened in mid-2018 by Hong Kong’s highly-lauded craft beer brewery Young Master Ales in collaboration with Chef Vinny Lauria is The Guild Singapore, which looked to champion artisanal produce in its elevated gastropub fare. Chef Lauria may have returned to his home base of Hong Kong, but has left the bar restaurant in the capable hands of his then sous chef Alton Huang, now newly promoted to Head Chef.
So far Chef Huang has mostly kept to Chef Lauria’s focus on supporting small producers, and indeed, retained many of his predecessor’s familiar favourites as well. We’re glad to still see the Brawn Terrine – a most delectable nose-to-tail style of rendered pig’s head served with pickled vegetables and charred bread – as well as Chef Lauria’s signature Mac N’ Cheese still on the menu. But Chef Huang has added his own touch in its most recent menu change as well. There’s Shank “Dugar”, a beer braised lamb shank dish named after one of Young Master Ales founders, and also Egg(plant)ception, an exploration of eggplant cooked multiple ways.
We’re almost certain that Chef Huang has even more ideas he’d like to see come to fruition in The Guild Singapore’s next menu change that may just displace some of Chef Lauria’s remaining dishes, so we’re going to be gorging on that mac and cheese in case it’s taken off in the near future.
The Guild Singapore | 55, #01-01 Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089158 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 12am Mondays to Saturdays; 3pm to 12am on Sundays | 9042 3900.
3. DON HO – Social Kitchen & Bar.
We’ve always found DON HO to be somewhat of an odd one, with what is technically modern Australian fare – and which harnesses inspiration from all over – in a casual bar restaurant named after a Hawaiian singer. But its rather eclectic menu, with a wide range of small plates, offers exactly the kind of food to cater small groups who enjoy grazing over sharing plates.
You could even say that dishes here offer something for everybody, catering to raging carnivores to those of vegan and vegetarian leanings. If you’re a meat eater you’d probably enjoy the Steak & Frites or Milk Pork Belly – both proteins were seared to perfection – while those socially conscious may opt for the tempura-style Crispy Eggplant or Wood Roasted Carrots.
But our favourites from the current menu is without a doubt the Shetland Mussels, the bivalves submerged in a yummy broth redolent with saffron and swimming with chunks of chorizo, as well as the Halloumi & Squash, the squeaky cheese a salty counterpoint to the sweet pumpkin. DON HO is coming up to the end for this menu, so make sure both these dishes are on your to-eat list soon.
Don Ho – Social Kitchen & Bar | 1 Keong Saik Road, The Working Capitol Building, Singapore 089109 (Google Maps link) | 6pm till late Mondays to Fridays; 10am to 4pm and 6pm till late on Saturdays; 10am to 4pm on Sundays | 6223 5001.
4. Taratata Brasserie.
French bistro Taratata Brasserie has enthralled diners with its take on authentic French fare since it opened in 2011. And while its peers along the Keong Saik Road stretch continually reinvented themselves – or changed hands or concepts – over the years, Taratata’s chef-owner Betrand Raguin has stuck to his guns of offering the time-honoured classics which have defined the cuisine of his homeland.
Expect classics such as the escargots – Demie Douzaine D’Escargots Au Beurre D’Ail – and the foie gras that is Escalope de Foie Gras Poêle Aux Griottes, executed to perfection. And we daresay Chef Raguin’s Boeuf Bourguignon is one of the best we’ve tasted in Singapore, which is saying a lot since we’re ranking the Loire native’s version alongside the likes of Bourgogne-themed Gaston and Michelin-starred Ma Cuisine both of which are in the same area.
For some theatrics opt for the Brochette de Boeuf Wagyu Flambée au Cognac, Sauce Au Poivre de Kampot, where a skewer of succulent beef is set aflame with cognac, but for the ultimate showstopper go for the Crêpes Suzette Flambées; the classic is similarly prepared table side, and watch as the Grand Marnier hits the flames.
Taratata Brasserie is currently offering some of these dishes in its Autumn/Winter lunch and dinner set menus at very reasonable prices, so make sure you peruse of them before the season changes. We have our eye on you, beef skewer.
Taratata Brasserie | 35A Keong Saik Road, Singapore 089142 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 10pm on Tuesdays to Thursdays and Sundays; 12pm to 2.30pm and 6pm to 12am on Fridays and Saturdays; closed on Mondays | 6221 5406.
Not to be confused with the now-defunct cocktail bar in the Keong Saik area of the same name, this Copper was previously known as The Copper Plate. The casual whisky-focused gastrobar – which is run by the same folks behind pioneering whisky drinking hole Quaich Bar – opened up in early 2019 offered Japanese-inspired bar food to go along with its wide range of whiskies and whisky-based cocktails.
Copper recently revamped its food menu to one that revolves around Japanese-style rice bowls and noodles. Drinkers are likely to eschew those for finger food to go with their drams – the River Shrimp Frites, or fried amaebi, and the Fried Chicken Kara Age are particularly good – but that would be a mistake. The Minced Chicken Rice Bowl – just rice topped with braised minced chicken and a sous-vide egg – is simply comfort food in a bowl.
But what truly hits the spot is the collagen bone broth that makes the base of their noodle offerings. You can opt for the same braised chicken mince as a topping for your somen or udon, but the Seafood Noodles – with its bounty of prawns, mussels and clams – add another layer of flavour into the wholesome broth. Add a spoonful of whisky into your soup for even more oomph.
We’re not sure if Copper will again revamp the menu any time this coming year, but in the meantime we’ll swing in any time we’re in Orchard Road for a bowl of them noodles just in case.
Copper | 167 Penang Road, #01-01 Lanson Place, Singapore 238462 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 12am on Mondays to Fridays; closed on Saturdays and Sundays | 6677 7346.
6. Madame Fan.
Some of us may drop in on Madame Fan at The NCO Club in the South Beach precinct for its cocktail bar, but it is a contemporary Chinese restaurant first and foremost. The massive restaurant with its old-school 1930s Shanghai glamour – complete with a stage for live entertainment – serves up modern Cantonese classics with a progressive European sensibility, and is a place as much to visit for its live post-modern jukebox music as it is for its elegant cuisine.
Those who enjoy Peking duck may appreciate its Crispy Aromatic Duck, which eschews the usual shimmering crispy skin on the roast duck for one that’s rubbed with spices but served the usual way. Whatever you can’t finish with the ethereal crepes are rendered into a refreshing salad with watermelon, pomelo and cashew nuts for a texture and flavour riot. Then there’s the Australian Black Angus Beef Tenderloin Cubes, a highly-elevated version of the classic black pepper beef
If you prefer something even more timeless, its double-boiled Four Treasure Soup – which sees sea cucumber, fish maw, and dried Hokkaido scallop – will hit the comfort spot, and likely to draw praise from even the most demanding of Cantonese matriarchs.
But chances are that a year after its opening this menu at Madame Fan is due for a refresh, so be sure to visit before a new one kicks in.
Madame Fan | 32 Beach Road, Singapore 189764 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 12am daily | 6818 1921.
7. El Mero Mero.
For over five years classy Mexican restaurant El Mero Mero at CHIJMES have been educating Singaporeans that Mexican food is more than just tacos and burritos. Its most recent menu, for example, introduced both the concept of regionality as well as gastronomic influences from other parts of the world on Mexican cuisine.
Sure it still has its tacos – the tempura-style Baja Fish and beef-based Wagyu Volcan tacos here come highly recommended – but it’s the less common dishes you should be looking at. For example, there’s El Mero Mero’s take on aguachile, Mexico’s version of the ceviche that hails from its state of Sinaloa. Here the Hamachi and Coconut Ceviche marinates fresh sashimi-grade amberjack in lime juice, hibiscus flower milk and chilli peppers for a piquant and spicy appetiser. It also reinterprets the classic gordita pastry with its Gordita, frying up a masa-based tortilla and turning it into what looks and tastes like the Indian poori and smothers it with grilled vegetables and a sweet-sour sauce.
We think too that the Corn Sampler – with char-grilled baby corn and huitlacoche donuts served alongside a most delectable chilli mayonnaise – needs to stay on the menu, but we’re coming back for more in case it’s ever taken off.
El Mero Mero | 30 Victoria Street, #01-20 Chijmes, Singapore 187996 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 11pm Mondays to Fridays and Sundays; 12pm to 12am on Saturdays | 9722 8171.
8. Tablescape Restaurant and Bar.
First opened in January 2018, contemporary European restaurant Tablescape in Grand Park City Hall earlier this year had a change in chefs when founding chef Robert Chan left and was replaced by new Executive Chef Armando Aristarco. The Italian native totally overhauled Chef Chan’s somewhat elaborate original menu, with a result that remarkably combines elegant simplicity and an air of fine-dining sophistication.
Those with lighter palates are sure to enjoy the starters that are Scallop, a simple Hokkaido scallop ceviche garnished with cucumber and ikura, as well as Egg, a perfectly sous-vide egg in a light cream sauce topped with asparagus and thinly sliced black truffles.
More serious eaters would certainly dig into Risotto, a risotto perfectly rendered using duck stock, and then served with smoked duck and foie gras for a most unctuous dish. Otherwise there’s Pork, a slab of Iberico pork chop that comes with a perfect sear thanks to sufficient time in a Josper grill, but not too much that it loses its deliciously pink centre.
One dish we’re pretty certain Chef Aristarco won’t take off the menu – the Fettuccine. His sublime al-dente fettuccine is the pasta carbonara – done the traditional way i.e. with an egg yolk and not cream to create the sauce – that our fallen world demands but does not quite deserve. But we’re never really sure, are we? Eat it while you can.
Tablescape Restaurant and Bar | 10 Coleman Street, Level 3, Grand Park City Hall, Singapore 179809 (Google Maps link) | 12pm to 2.30pm and 5.30pm to 12.30am daily | 6432 5566.
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