When it comes to brunching and lunching – favourite pastimes here in Singapore – there are lots of decisions to be made, from the type of cuisine you’re in the mood for to how far you’re willing to travel – and most importantly, whether or not to bring your little ones along; after all, you’ve got to consider opening hours and entertainment facilities, and whether or not the menu will keep the entire brood happy. But, with so many child-friendly spots to choose from these days, why not make it a family affair? Here are some tried-and-tested daytime dining destinations around the island, many of which offer much more than just high chairs and kids’ meals.
90 Goodman Road, Block N#01-56 Goodman Arts Centre
When: All-day breakfast is served on weekdays from 10am to 10pm; brunch is available from 8.30am to 4pm on weekends and public holidays; à la carte all-day breakfast items are available from 4pm; and pizza is served from 11am. You can order from the kids’ menu all day, every day.
There aren’t many places where you can relax with the perfect latte knowing the kids are playing safely on the huge lawn in front; but at Café Melba, you can. With its lovely alfresco patio, this place makes for a relaxing family brunch; it has a cool vibe, friendly staff and lush green surroundings.
The food has a mix of influences from Australia and Asia, with a menu of everything from sandwiches and light bites to pizza and pastas, plus an All Day Brekkie menu that includes to-die-for free-range eggs Benedict ($20) with lemon hollandaise sauce, and the Full Melba Cooked Breakfast ($25), your choice of eggs, pork sausages, house-cured bacon, baked beans, mushrooms, hash browns and toast; this can be upsized to a “mega” version ($36, or $44 with a bottle of beer).
The kids’ menu offers five options – pizza, fish and chips, spaghetti Bolognese, macaroni and cheese and chicken schnitzel – each can be ordered with a juice and a scoop of ice cream for $15.
Special features: In addition to colouring sheets to keep kids occupied, there’s a bouncy castle just outside the patio where they can jump to their hearts’ content. The huge lawn is great for running around and playing ball games – in fact, there are football goals set up on the grass. Older kids who want to explore can scooter around the safe pathways of the Arts Centre.
Words to the wise: This place is great for groups, but get there early, as they don’t take reservations on weekends or public holidays. They also maintain a “no pets” policy, so leave the pups at home.
2 Keppel Bay Vista, Marina at Keppel Bay
When: Brunch is served from 8am on weekends and 9am on weekdays; all-day breakfast is available too, and lunch items are offered from 11.30am.
With kids outnumbering adults, it’s obvious this place is an excellent weekend catch-up spot for families. Here, the best place to enjoy the water views and up-beat atmosphere is in the alfresco area and, rest assured, there are plenty of umbrellas for shade.
The children’s menu is solid value with two brunch options ($12 each): pancake stacks or the “Breakfast of Champions”, followed by a choice of dessert and a milkshake or fresh juice. Bigger kids, over the age of 10, will probably prefer to choose from the à la carte menu; our two polished off a stack of home-style pancakes ($13) with banana and strawberries, and a Plain Jane Wagyu Burger ($21), available after 11.30am. Hangover or not, the Ultimate Brekkie ($20) will fill a hungry belly, and it’s hard to beat the eggs Benedict ($16) with smoked leg ham. Do save room for something sweet – there’s a stunning collection of cakes, and we reckon the red velvet ($6) was among the best we’ve tasted; the sticky date pudding ($12) is another favourite.
Special features: Colouring pencils and sheets are supplied, kids’ books are available in the mini-library and free popcorn is available upon request. Young ones can also burn off energy in the activity play centre. Children’s entertainer, Mr Egg, performs on the first and third Sunday of the month, from 1pm to 3pm.
Words to the wise: With views like this, Privé is super-popular, so its best to book. Also, do keep a close eye on your children, as the outdoor area isn’t totally enclosed.
320 Tanglin Road
When: Weekends and public holidays from 9am to 3.30pm
Whoever said “Kids should be seen but not heard” would be a fan of brunch here. The restaurant’s playground equipment is located one level down from the restaurant, letting you monitor the kids while enjoying adult conversation and food above. Take the Garden Brekkie ($30) with eggs, avocado, tomato, goat cheese, toast and salad; or the Cajun Prawns Benny ($25), a poached egg atop a toasted bagel and a mountain of spicy diced shrimp. The Brioche French Toast ($14) has one of the lightest batters I’ve ever tasted (an egg wash rather than dip, perhaps?); it’s served with mascarpone cheese and sweet apricot jam. The tots will no doubt love the kids’ menu, but if you tend to trend healthy, skip it in favour of the beautifully layered Greek yoghurt ($7) and a side of smoked salmon ($6) or eggs ($4).
Space for the desserts here should be made days ahead of time. Crowd favourites include the towering carrot cake ($12) and the ginger date pudding ($15), though the humble chocolate chip cookie ($3) steals the show; it’s no wonder the restaurant sells nearly 200 every three days. Take note: with Genoan chef Mauro Scotto freshly on board, the menu will be shifting slightly towards Italian very soon.
Opened in 2009, Spruce has been around Singapore longer than most of you reading this, which says something in a city of constant change. The food is consistent; the deck is covered and enclosed by greenery, and the setting is peaceful and historic without a mall or major road in sight.
Special features: Playground equipment, a bouncy castle (no swimming, mind you) and a kids’ menu will keep little ones satisfied here.
Words to the wise: If you want to supervise your kids while they play, make sure to snag one of the tables on the deck’s outer edge. And, though there’s space to park your stroller next to your table, both restaurant entrances require some climbing (one up and one down); leave your wheels in the car if you don’t like steps.
60 Fairways Drive
When: Breakfast is served from 8am to 11am every day; then the kitchen closes for an hour before lunch is served from noon onwards.
When Picotin left its large and handy spot on the corner of the entrance to The Grandstand (formerly Turf City), we were sad. It was a convenient location for us that served good food and had plenty of things to keep kids entertained. This new spot, however, is even better, and as the menu is remained the same, it’s once again an easy restaurant choice for us. The kids’ menu offers a choice of a small pizza, pasta or fish and chips, one juice or soft drink, plus a scoop of ice cream or a small chocolate mousse, all for the bargain price of $15. Meanwhile, I opted for the seared tuna Niçoise salad ($29), while James had the classic rib-eye steak frites ($35) with béarnaise sauce.
Special features: The alfresco restaurant overlooks the Champions Public Golf Course and, in keeping with this sporting theme, there’s also a mini-golf course available to the public and restaurant guests. As it’s not within eyeshot, smaller children need to be supervised by an adult. My two, aged four and seven, had a wonderful time, and unlimited play for them cost $10 each. There’s also a handy little play area, with a swing set, slide and mini-train, which is enough to keep them occupied for a short while.
Words to the wise: Don’t turn up hungry at 11am, as the kitchen doesn’t reopen after breakfast until midday. Be prepared to sweat, particularly if you play mini-golf in the midday sun like we did – and bring bug spray.
The Sunday Garden Party at Atmosphere by the Sea
101 Siloso Road, Shangri-La’s Rasa Sentosa Resort & Spa
When: Sundays from 12 noon to 3pm, with children’s entertainment from 1pm
The first thing that struck us when we entered the indoor-outdoor seaside restaurant was what a pleasant and calm atmosphere it had. The table count could have been doubled, but the lovely team at Shangri-La wants to keep it a relaxing venue for patrons. It’s a great option for a quiet family Sunday afternoon, or just as easily a great place to get together to eat with a group of friends and while the day away.
The food selection was excellent, including salads, cold cuts, soups, a big choice of seafood and sushi – among the highlights were oysters flown in from France – and that’s just the entrées. The main courses offer something for everyone, ranging from hearty roast beef to Asian and Indian selections. For dessert, there’s a small but delicious ice cream bar (with sprinkles and sauce), cheese with biscuits and jam, and several cakes and macaroons.
There’s a separate buffet to suit the palate of most children (and adults – I have to admit nibbling from this selection too): nuggets, chips, Bolognese and my particular favourite (which took me back to my youth), jellybeans for dessert.
The brunch buffet is $138 per adult (without alcoholic beverages, which can be ordered à la carte), while each child below 12 dines free with every paying adult; it’s $28 for each additional child (inclusive of free-flow soft drinks and juices).
Special features: The balloon and magic show kept most of the children glued to their seats for at least an hour (while the parents sat back and relaxed), followed by free-of-charge access to the hotel’s very kid-friendly pool all afternoon.
Words to the wise: Invest in one of those body-shaping swimming costumes before coming along, for courage to get into the pool after a minimum of five courses at this yummy venue.
Pan Pacific Orchard
10 Claymore Road
When: Sundays from 12 noon to 3pm
Located on the ground floor of the Pan Pacific Orchard hotel, 10 Claymore offers a casual Sunday brunch that seems more geared towards lunch as it starts at noon – perfect after a bout of shopping on Orchard Road.
The hot tickets here were the cooked cold seafood spread (Boston lobster, Alaskan crab, prawns and clams), the sushi and sashimi counter (sliced to order) and the live oyster shucking station. Our hands-down favourite was the tender USA Black Angus beef 1855, cooked à la minute before you and served with gravy and mustard. There’s also a hot buffet with Asian dishes like noodles, Cantonese herbal prawns and five-spice roasted duck, and a European spread of gammon and roast potatoes, pork belly, lamb with Burgundy mint sauce, salads and a small array of cheeses; a selection of petite portions are also up for grabs à la carte (New Zealand lamb rib chop or char kuay teow), which is handy when you just want to sit and have a conversation.
If your kids can’t find anything from the buffet that tickles their fancy, they can order a pasta dish (spaghetti and meatballs or mac and cheese) or fish and chips from the children’s menu.
Dessert is sure to be a hit with kids and the young at heart – a retro chocolate fountain with skewers of marshmallows and fruit kept our toddler in high spirits. There are crepes made to order (the durian paste had people queuing), peppermint chocolate-chip ice cream, which youngsters will love topping with rainbow sprinkles (or more chocolate chips!), and a dessert buffet of mini cheesecakes, brownies, mango puddings and lemon meringue tarts.
The brunch buffet is $98 including unlimited wine and beer, or $88 without alcohol (but including brewed coffee and Gryphon teas); children aged five to 12 eat for $44.
Special features: Although there’s no dedicated space for kids to run around, children are very welcome at 10 Claymore and, on request, little ones will get an activity kit to take home, including a book, a toy and their very own Pan Pacific teddy. High chairs and kids’ cutlery are also available.
Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife at Singapore Zoo
80 Mandai Lake Road
When: Every day from 9am to 10.30am
The Jungle Breakfast with Wildlife takes place at Singapore Zoo’s Ah Meng Restaurant, a large alfresco timber lodge. The buffet offers a selection of pastries, breads, cheeses and yoghurts, cereal, fresh fruit and a range of hot food – both Western and Asian – along with fruit juice, pre-brewed tea and coffee; the roti prata and vegetable curry, the bee hoon and the selection of dim sum were a firm favourite at our table. There’s no kids’ menu, but the variety on offer should suit even the fussiest child – plus, they offer child-friendly cutlery and plates. The breakfast is $33 for adults and $23 for children over six, and free for kids under six.
The two adult and three baby orangutans made their appearance at 9.30am to have their breakfast (sugar cane and sunflower seeds), with the baby orangutans entertaining the children by dangling upside down and chasing each other. The view from our table was amazing, as we were about two metres away, while most tables had a decent view. The orangutans had departed by 10am, giving us time to finish our forgotten breakfast before heading out to visit the rest of the zoo – a lovely start to the day!
Special Features: In addition to entertainment from the orangutans, you have the chance to be photographed standing right in front of the orangutans, either with your own camera or the official zoo photographer’s.
Words to the wise: Get there early – you’ll get the best seats. Also, the restaurant is open-ended, so watch any escapologist children!
This story first appeared in Expat Living’s June 2015 issue.