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Downtown dining in the CBD

Whether you’re looking for a lunch spot, a post-work bite and beer with your colleagues or the perfect date-night destination, Singapore’s Central Business District has a lot to offer. Here, we review some of the hottest places in the CBD.

Food in Singapore
Pan-seared Boston scallops,Level33

Level33
#33-01 Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1, 8 Marina Boulevard
6834 3133 | level33.com.sg

The mood: Walking into Level33, it’s clear the spot is a haunt for the office crowd – and why wouldn’t it be, situated inside MBFC? We visited the chic spot on a Wednesday evening and it was bustling, but not overwhelmingly so. Whether you opt for lunch or dinner or just drinks with pals, the water views from the outdoor terrace are spectacular – put this on your list of places to take newbies or the parents to wow them with the impressive vista of Singapore’s skyline.

The food: For starters, we tried the pan-seared Boston scallops, which were paired with ’nduja cornbread (’nduja is a spicy, spreadable salami from Calabria), lamb bacon, cauliflower and ginger purée ($28): artfully presented and yummy. We recommend saving your appetite for the generous main courses, though.

The wagyu beef sirloin steak ($68) served with beef stock russet purée and veal jus was like butter to cut through and rich in flavour. There are a few vegetarian options too, one of which is the artichoke risotto with trumpet mushroom, aged goat’s cheese and rock chives ($29) – exceedingly creamy and woh-so-satisfying!

This being a microbrewery, the guys like to get creative with their beer, so we had to try their sautéed beer paneer spinach ($9.50), and the Maccheroni ($10), a spin on macaroni cheese which combines India pale ale, taleggio cheese, wholegrain mustard and beer malt crumbs – sinful, but totally worth the calories.

Bottoms up: Try one of Level33’s speciality beer cocktails. I recommend the Paris, featuring 33.1 Blond lager, Rothschild Brut Champagne, crème de cassis and gold dust. Fancy!

Good to know: Once you’re done with your main course indoors, ask for a seat on the terrace to enjoy a dessert assiette (a platter of their best sweet things – $38 for two to share) with spectacular views over the marina – a romantic option for date night. –

– Susannah Jaffer

The spicy Ibérico pork pressa ($40)
The spicy Ibérico pork pressa ($40)

Artemis Grill
Level 40, 138 Market Street
6635 8677 | artemisgrill.com.sg

The mood: Immediately enhanced by unsurpassed views of the city, Marina Bay and the sea beyond. An elegant Friday after-work business crowd buzzes in the spacious, fan-cooled outdoor terrace – and we hear it’s like this every night. Back indoors for dinner, we find the chic and intimate restaurant just right for a special date or a smart girls’ night out.

The food: Mediterranean, with a focus on “celebrating the integrity” of the best artisanal and sustainable ingredients, explains executive chef Fernando Arevalo. The result is what my dinner date Sue describes as “intense, nicely balanced, really thoughtful food”. (Yes, yes, she’s in advertising.)

Perhaps our top pick, the exquisite wild seabass sashimi ($42) is served with Corsican coppa for a sublimely salty richness that’s intriguingly balancedwith Australian finger-lime caviar. Thinly sliced and grilled, the spicy Ibérico pork pressa ($40) – “like very fancy bacon” – according to wordsmith Sue, is another winner. New Zealand John Dory ($48) is interestingly served with kale, preserved lemon gremolata and chorizo emulsion.

Portions aren’t huge, so you’ll find room for the pineapple rhum baba ($16), crispy cannoli filled with pineapple ganache and served with rum and raisin ice cream; and the bomboloni ($17), a sort of Italian doughnut filled with olive oil custard (so healthy!) and Valrhona chocolate.

Bottoms up: Start as we did with a couple of champagnes on the terrace, then let the sommelier suggest a scrumptious Sancerre followed by a rocking white Rioja – and perhaps a chilled Madeira with dessert.

Good to know: Book way ahead to score a window table with a view. Remember to book for pre-dinner drinks on the terrace, too.

– Verne Maree

wine and dine, restaurants, cafes
Check out the gorgeous furniture and décor at Cook & Brew

Cook & Brew Level 33, The Westin Singapore
12 Marina View, Asia Square Tower 2
6922 6948 | cookandbrewsingapore.com

The mood: My friend Georgie and I visited the venue early on a Thursday evening, and the place was heaving with a big city crowd. We navigated our way through the bar’s contemporary wood and animal print interior, to the restaurant in the far corner. The wraparound views are either of the striking marina area and beyond, or of the area’s ongoing construction – hard to tear your eyes away from, either way.

The food: During the week, the restaurant offers a three course dinner set menu ($55). The choice is not exhaustive, which helps if you’re indecisive like me. We chose the rocket salad and crispy artichoke hearts to start, followed by the chicken parma and black cod for mains. I’m a big fan of rocket, which was lucky as I had an extremely generous portion.

Georgie’s artichoke hearts were nicely crisped up and the nutty romesco dressing gave it the edge on my salad. We both enjoyed our mains, again extremely generous portions, which meant we unfortunately couldn’t squeeze in a dessert. All three choices were tempting, however – a Bailey’s cake, a raspberry chocolate layer cake and a choice of ice creams.

Bottoms up: We washed our dinner down with a bottle of crisp Mount Nelson Sauvignon Blanc ($105). If you choose from the à la carte menu, there are several beer-pairing suggestions for most dishes. There’s also an extensive cocktail menu, so plenty of choices for all palates.

Good to know: If you’re a Starwood Preferred Guest member, you get 15 percent off your total bill for up to eight guests. The hotel also has a funky lobby lounge bar, which is great for kicking on.

Amy Brook-Partridge

Saint Pierre
Saint Pierre

 

Saint Pierre
#02-02B One Fullerton, 1 Fullerton Road
6438 0887 | saintpierre.com.sg

The mood: Located on the second floor of One Fullerton (right above Overeasy), the restaurant, which recently moved from Sentosa, offers an elegant and intimate dining experience with unbeatable, in-your-face Marina Bay views (a fab date-night spot, indeed).

There being just 30 seats in the entire restaurant, each guest is doted on by knowledgeable European wait-staff who pay attention to each and every detail – a change of napkin every time a guest leaves his or her seat, for instance. Belgian Chef Emmanuel Stroobant greets each of his guests, and also prepares many of his French-influenced dishes tableside.

The food: Each dish here is a colourful and textural work of art with fantastic flavour combinations. Serving what he calls “essence-centric” cuisine – using stocks and seasonings derived from the essences of natural, seasonal ingredients – Chef Emmanuel offers vegetarian and non-vegetarian set menus, each available in six ($148 and $158) and 10 ($178 and $188) courses; there’s also a four-course set lunch version for $85.

I especially loved the steamed Atlantic cod with oxtail consommé and daikon from the “Earth” menu, while my husband savoured his “Tomato” appetiser –vanilla oil-marinated Japanese Momotaro tomato, coriander water, balsamic vinegar and cashew nut papadum – from the “Nature” menu. We also went nuts for “The Chocolate”, aspherical chocolate shell filled with creamy passion fruit, chocolate mousse and Tahiti vanilla parfait, available with both menu options.

Bottoms up: Wine pairing is an additional $128, and includes your choice of beverage from the aperitif trolley (I chose champagne, natch), a glass of wine for each course, and digestifs from the dessert trolley that rolls around after the meal, complete with petits fours, macarons and fudge.

Good to know: Eat lightly in the lead-up to your Saint Pierre visit. Even when you choose the six-course option, you’re really getting a lot more, as there are surprises like a pre-appetiser “snack” andamuse-bouchecourses.

In addition to the digestifs and desserts trolley, there’s a cheese cart that comes around ($28); my husband’s eyes lit up when it rolled by with its impressive and pungent selection. Psst: There’s a four course children’s menu for $85, but for such a quiet and romantic atmosphere, we’re guessing you’ll want to leave the kiddos at home.

– Amy Greenburg

Japanese food in Singapore
Teppanyaki Flambe Wagyu (Sagagyu from Kyushu Japan)

Tatsu
#02-16 Asia Square Tower 2, 12 Marina View
6844 9855 | tatsu.com.sg

The mood: The vibe at Tatsu’s Asia Square outlet (the original at Chijmes opened in 1996) is sleek and minimalist, and there are several seating options: a teppanyaki counter for 12, a sushi bar, private rooms and regular tables, too. Tatsu is casual, friendly and efficiently run by the effervescent manager, Maggie.

The food: I’m a little biased as Japanese is one of my favourite cuisines, but everything we tried was fabulous. The chefs allow the taste and texture of quality ingredients to shine with only the lightest of embellishments – like the sweet and flavoursome Shizuoka fruit tomato (seasonal; subject to availability), served with just a pinch of salt.

Both theomakase sashimi ($40 per person) and theaburi sushi ($40) feature a selection of the best seafood, a highlight being wafer-thin slices of flounder sprinkled with truffle, and tuna belly that tasted as if it had just been caught. Teppanyaki is as much about theatrics as it is about food.

Chef Danny is a smiling showman who treats us to Boston lobster (seasonal price) flambéed in brandy (watch out for the flames) and freshly made mayonnaise. He also knows his way around a slab of Kyushu wagyu ($168), cooking the marbled Grade Four beef to medium rare on request. Both are served with fried garlic chips (moreish and surprisingly not too potent the day after) and a bowl of garlic rice ($8) cooked on the grill.

The laughter gets louder when Danny asks us to catch small pieces of fried egg in our mouths as he flicks them off a spatula! Asahi draught beer ($10) is the perfect accompaniment to teppanyaki and, if you can fit it in, finish off with one of the seasonal desserts.

Good to know: Busy at lunchtime (when bento sets start from $24) with the Asia Square business crowd, it’s quieter at dinner and open on Saturdays, too. Ask for a parking coupon if you dine on a weeknight.

Katie Roberts

This article first appeared in the July 2016 edition of Expat Living magazine. Subscribe.

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