From classic steaks to contemporary Australian cuisine, here are four restaurants in Singapore to try, plus Aussie meats from The Butcher to cook up in the comfort of your own home.
What exactly is contemporary Australian cuisine?
It’s a form of fusion fare that has evolved in the past few decades, particularly in fine dining restaurants, due to Australia’s diverse culture. Using creative, mostly European-inspired cooking techniques, this modern type of cuisine is showcased through inventive dishes that highlight global flavours and beautifully grown, seasonal produce.
Cheek by Jowl
Cheek by Jowl is located along a row of shophouses in buzzy Telok Ayer. We came for dinner and sat at the bar overlooking the kitchen, where it was pleasantly dim with a cosy and relaxed vibe – perfect for an evening meal.
Featuring mod-Oz fare, the menu changes regularly according to seasonal ingredients, while retaining selected signature items. You can choose to have a three-course meal or indulge in a five- or seven-course tasting menu. Don’t be fooled by the dainty portions – they add up!
We had the five-course Chef’s Tasting Menu ($88) that comes with additional small snacks; we especially liked the baby potato with sour cream and chives, and the baby corn with crispy kernels. Each main dish offers a myriad of flavours and textures. The roasted quail was lovely, topped with green apple and paired with chestnut purée, mushrooms and mint. We also had smoked mackerel, which went well with its accompaniments of pickled cucumber and green pea jus. Next up was the barramundi, served with charred lettuce, onions and prawn foam; we polished it off quickly, thoroughly enjoying the tender flesh. Of course, I had to try the kangaroo loin – it was well-charred and not too gamey – while my companion opted for the lamb saddle, which she also enjoyed.
To end the meal, we tried the coconut semifreddo and laksa leaf ice cream topped with green chilli sauce (not spicy!), pomelo and peanuts. This unique creation’s uncanny resemblance to laksa took me aback initially, but its refreshing flavours soon grew on me.
– LINDSAY YAP
Keep a sharp eye out for signs, as the hunt for this gem starts from the ground floor up. After a quick meander up escalators and a couple of sharp turns, a sizeable and sophisticated space is revealed, with glorious views overlooking Singapore’s prized Padang and city skyline. The interior is dark and sultry; Chesterfield seating, cognac-coloured leather and stacks of fireplace wood create a warm, refined atmosphere synonymous with an upscale chophouse.
Showcasing not only the best of the pastures but the best of the sea too, the menu loosely plays on one of Australia’s culinary pride and joys: surf n’ turf. The appetisers put a keen focus on premium seafood, from tuna and spanner crab tartare ($32) to broiled Georges Bank sea scallops ($38) and Kilpatrick oysters ($8 per piece). For those anticipating the hefty cuts of meat ahead, there’s also a respectable selection of soups and salads.
Carnivores, rejoice for the main event! I’m big on fatty cuts of beef, so I can’t back this marbled beauty more; 120-day grain fed, four-week wetaged Augustus rib eye ($72, 12oz) from Stanbroke, Queensland; it’s indulgent enough that a generous serving of grilled asparagus ($19) serves as a sufficient side. My beau however, is a lean-loving kind of man, and opted to sample one of their international cuts – the grass-fed and 35-day dryaged John Stone Farm’s Black Angus sirloin ($80, 12oz) from Longford, Ireland. As this cut is best enjoyed in its purest form, we’d recommend you bid for “blue” or “rare” in doneness, leaving the edges seared mere millimetres thick with a rosy blue-ish hue inside to retain all the fresh flavour. This beauty is best paired with a more sinful side of truffle macaroni and cheese ($18), and dipped in Red Wine Madeira, one of the four complimentary sauces that accompany every steak.
Augustus rib eye
New Bubbly Brunch
Wooloomooloo Steakhouse has introduced a weekend brunch, which features a five-course menu with the option of free-flow La Cuvee-Laurent Perrier Champagne, house red and white wines, gin and tonic cocktails and select martinis ($128 per person, or $68 for food only). The brunch menu changes biweekly, so guests can look forward to new creations all the time. The brunch is now available every Saturday and Sunday from 11.30am to 3pm.
– LEANDA RATHMEL
A super-minimal grey palate serves as the raw industrial-chic backdrop for the shophouse’s casual but cool atmosphere; a great playlist gives the place an extra fun and lively vibe.
It’s all about mixing unexpected flavours and ingredients here, giving the menu a very experimental feel – something that has become Australian chef Clayton Wells’ signature, as seen at his Sydney-based restaurant Automata. At Blackwattle, guests can order dishes à la carte, or go for the regularly changing five-course prix fixe option ($115), which may prove to be better value; they’ve also got a three-course weekday set lunch for $48. But, beware – if you’re a very picky eater, this may not be the place for you.
For starters, we tried the uni with Osetra caviar wrapped in an ohba leaf – a must if you like uni, though the price is a bit punchy for two mouthfuls (one, if you’re splitting with someone!) – and the storm shell clams with rosemary dashi and aerated cream ($18). Then came the green tomatoes with crème fraiche, ikura and bone-marrow dressing, which was a unique combination of super-fresh ingredients; you can definitely tell that the quality of produce here is paramount. We also enjoyed the lamb neck with celeriac and white kimchi – found on the tasting menu – which proved to be another nice amalgamation of flavours. One dish that didn’t do it for me, however, was the stracciatella with mussels and shellfish oil. In my opinion, the fishy taste was too overpowering for the cheese, though my husband didn’t mind it.
Dessert was delish: we had a generously sized mandarin tarte ($22) with mandarin sorbet and whipped cream. The cocktails here are just as playful and adventurous as the food. My husband loved his Hibiscus Sour (bourbon, hibiscus syrup, lemon and egg white; $20), while I enjoyed The Wellsy ($20), made with gin, curry powder and lemon ginger syrup. If you like rosé, try the La Marchesana Rosata ($18 per glass), a rosé blend with a fruity, almost watermelon-like taste!
Other than the addictive homemade bread, we loved the rough-skin sole with salted egg yolk butter, preserved lemon and horseradish ($75; though delicious, this price, too, is a bit much if you ask me). The addition of horseradish gave this fish dish a great kick.
– AMY GREENBURG
Any city-dweller will appreciate an aesthetic like Fynn’s; a bright and airy space, indoor-outdoor seating and zero city clamour. The Oslo-meets-Melbourne interior hits the perfect medium of comfort and finesse; think nude tones, marble tops and tasteful art and foliage. With the courtyard and floor-to-ceiling windows allowing sunlight to pour in during the day, it’s no wonder this pretty little brunch spot has been flooding Instagram feeds. But as the sun sets and the candles are lit, we discover that this gem transforms into the ideal date-night spot too.
The single-page dinner menu is the epitome of quality over quantity. Starters comprise seafood and vegetarian options, while mains focus on pasta and protein, all plated to perfection and true to the hearty and wholesome fare that Australians are known for. Likewise, service is refreshingly warm and helpful at Fynn’s; be sure to tap into their recommendations!
We kick off dinner with a fresh Tuscan kale salad ($13) with fennel, red radish, ricotta and garlic croutons in a light vinaigrette dressing, and the panseared Spanish octopus ($19), tender and elevated by the complementing lemongrass and spicy apple slaw and some fresh-out-the-oven homemade bread ($8) to clean up the bowl. For the main event, we’re told strong favourites are the broken crab meat taglierini ($27) with a Datterino tomato and spicy shellfish sauce and the pistachio and herb-crusted lamb chops ($35) with sautéed mushrooms and baked onion. Let’s just say we did the dishwasher a favour, scooping up every last morsel.
Sweet finishes range from chocolate indulgence to lighter notes. We opted for the latter, in the form of a cooling coconut mascarpone cream ($13) served with gula melaka jelly, butterscotch ice and chocolate crumbles.
Broken crab meat taglierini Psst! Looking for brunch inspo this weekend? Check fynnsrestaurant.com/ brunch for a range of mouth-watering options, from truffle-infused omelettes to baked butternut-squash French toast!
– LEANDA RATHMELL
At-home Aussie Eats
Prefer to stay in? Pick up some meat from The Butcher and have a feast at home. Styled after contemporary Australian butcheries, The Butcher offers everything from Australian lamb, veal, free-range pork and grass- fed beef to turkey, duck and antibiotic-free chicken with no added hormones, as well as a selection of seafood. Best-sellers include the shop’s beef range – meat can be cut according to customers’ needs, and marinated and vacuum-packed for free! – as well as its homemade sausages, which come in a variety of flavours. Also, new to The Butcher’s product range is Dorper lamb from Australia; a cross between a Dorset horn sheep from Britain and a Persian sheep from Iran, the Dorper lamb is very tender and has a low fat score. The shop’s in-house specialist butchers can provide more detailed information about any of the meats on offer, so just ask!
And don’t forget the other goodies! The Butcher’s got plenty – from chutneys, sauces and dressings to Aussie pies, sausage rolls and a cheese selection, plus a great selection of wines.
Order online at thebutcher.com.sg or visit one of The Butcher’s three outlets, located at Parkway Parade (#B1-83B, 80 Marine Parade Road), UE Square (#01-13, 81 Clemenceau Avenue) and Holland Village (#01-05, 44 Jalan Merah Saga).
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