With such a wide array of eatery and bar options, combined with its historic heritage and beautiful, lush surroundings, it’s no wonder the tranquil enclave of Dempsey Hill has become one of the most popular dining destinations in Singapore. If you haven’t explored this neck of the woods yet, the plethora of dining options can feel overwhelming – especially if you don’t have any regular favourites to fall back on. Not to worry, we highlight our favourite spots in Dempsey to unwind in style!
Peranakan cuisine was placed on the world map when Candlenut became the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a Michelin star in 2016 and 2017. Headed by chef-owner Malcolm Lee, this Michelin-starred restaurant in COMO Dempsey boasts a modern décor beautifully contrasted by rattan chairs and Peranakan tiles.
We opted for the “Ah-ma-kase” dinner menu ($118 per person), which came highly recommended. The much anticipated meal started with charcoal grilled Maori Lakes lamb shoulder satay with sweet soy, which stood out for its impeccably tender texture and sweet-savoury flavour. The mains – seven dishes in total – are served communal style with rice, and it’s a treat to see all of them displayed at once. Highlights included a dry coconut curry of smoked kampung chicken, fried shallots, green banana and kaffir lime leaf – an umami-loaded dish we devoured within minutes – and the Freedom Range Co. sambal telur – cage-free eggs cooked to perfection (runny yolks), then deep-fried and bathed in an aromatic chilli paste. Dinner ended on an excellent note with traditional sweets; refreshing shaved coconut ice with sago pearls and gula melaka, as well as elegantly presented homemade traditional Nyonya kueh. Note: the items served on this menu are not available in the à la carte menu.
Don’t leave without trying… Chef’s Mum’s curry of tiger prawn, turmeric, white pepper corn and sweet potato leaves. Douse a generous heaping of curry onto plain rice – which helps neutralise the heat if you’re not used to spicy – then slowly savour the rich taste of beloved Peranakan heritage.
– Anthia Chng
Carrotsticks & Cravings
Long gone are the days when opting to dine out on healthy food means you have to forgo on flavour, and Carrotsticks & Cravings café is one spot that truly exemplifies this. Located in kid-friendly Loewen Gardens, the café is a pretty little spot with alfresco seating shielded by metal awnings, a setting which, during a tropical downpour (like we had), makes for a theatrical atmosphere.
I chose the sustainable king salmon bowl ($30), with greens, roasted miso zucchini and an extremely moreish edamame dip crusted around the inside of the bowl. The bowl usually comes with coconut brown rice, but as I’m following a low-carb diet I asked for this to be taken out, and the kitchen generously gave me plenty more vegetables. My lunch partner opted for the smashed avo on sourdough with pomegranate ($20). Both were demolished.
For dessert, we shared a caramel slice ($6) made with dates, coconut and cacao, and a powerball ($4), paired with a “dirty” (with caffeine) turmeric latte ($9). Owner Terri-Anne switches up the cakes regularly, and there were also gluten-full pastry options available. There’s a wide range of delicioussounding smoothies on the menu – from a nutritious combo of berries, oats, chia and milk, to a decadent banana, peanut butter, cacao, honey and milk smoothie, both $8.
The café is a lovely spot to while away some time with friends and accompanying kids – just don’t forget bug spray, and an umbrella, just in case. Don’t leave without trying… the turmeric latte with a dessert on the side.
– Amy Brook-Partridge
COMO Cuisine is sleek, simple and spacious – wooden floors, black-and-white lanterns and plants hanging vertically from the ceiling – with a clean, contemporary menu to match. In fact, it’s a collection of popular dishes from various COMO properties around the world, with Western and Asian flavours throughout – and everything sounds and looks amazing. We went with some recommended choices, and they sure didn’t disappoint.
To start, we tried the tasty falafel with eggplant and tahini ($16), super-flavourful spiced lamb samosas with mango chutney ($12) and a fabulous sourdough toast topped with burrata with jackfruit chutney ($22). We also went nuts over the big raw salad ($24), loaded with veggies and tossed with a Dijon mustard and apple cider vinaigrette that I’d love to replicate at home. We only had room for one main – the savoury lamb cutlet with pumpkin purée, onions, spinach and pine nuts ($45) – but next time we’re dying to try the snapper curry ($32), too. We accompanied our main with the roasted cauliflower with almonds, molasses and yoghurt, which was an excellent choice.
For something light and refreshing to end the meal, try the mango carpaccio ($12) – sliced mango with coconut sorbet.
Don’t leave without trying… the raw salad (if, like me, you love salad). But the lamb samosas are also a must.
– Amy Greenburg
Popular Greek spot Blu Kouzina has opened a restaurant right next door – Blu Meze. Both menus are the same, but what sets them apart is the ambience. Unlike the former, Blu Meze features a more homely, pared-down vibe with a rustic industrial theme running throughout. Earthy brick walls and fairy lights adorn the indoor space, and there’s also a semi-alfresco area with comfy wooden sofas to kick back on while sipping on Greek vino.
Get the grilled pita ($3.90) and a few dips to share; we particularly enjoyed the hummus ($15.90), which uses the extra virgin olive oil from their family-owned olive grove estate in Messinia, and the melitzanosalata ($16.80), an appetising mix of smoked eggplant, feta and herbs. The cauliflower salad ($18.80) – sautéed cauliflower, spinach, almonds and tahini dressing – is another great pick if you want something light before moving on to the mains. A unanimous hit was the small meat platter ($50.80), which can easily feed three to four people. Featuring two keftedes (meatballs), one kalamaki (grilled meat), one bifteki (patty) and two lamb chops, the meats were super tender and flavourful.
Don’t leave without trying… the sinful saganaki and figs ($19.80) if you love cheese. It’s a winning combination of salty, melty kefalotiri cheese with sweet fig sauce!
– Anthia Chng
The Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar
This has to be one of my favourite restaurants in Singapore because of the delicious food, great service and eclectic colonial-chic décor – high-backed, white wicker chairs with marble tables, black and white floors, large, geometric lantern-like lights and a beautiful leaf-covered bar. Also, the menu really has something for everybody, from simply cooked fish dishes, vegetarian offerings, pizzas and pastas to Asian-inspired fare and more elaborate eats like a caviar-filled egg ($38) and caramelised foie gras ($28). Even the pickiest of eaters can dine here, while their foodie companions can still go to town.
Every item on the menu looks delicious, so it was hard to choose. We ultimately ended up with the standout starter of crispy salmon sushi with chipotle mayonnaise and soy glaze ($20), which was four pieces of pure heaven, and a fabulous kale and broccoli salad with Parmesan, croutons and a soft-boiled egg ($19) mixed in. We also split the restaurant’s newly added spring peas and smoked mozzarella pizza with pickled chillies and mint ($20), and it was divine; not too spicy at all, and a twist on your traditional pizza, for sure. Also new to the menu are charred corn raviolis with basil fondue ($25) and a tasty Sri Lankan crab cake with sugar snap pea remoulade ($29), among other dishes that renowned chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten introduced during his most recent visit.
We complemented the meal with a deliciously refreshing, gin-based cucumber martini ($22) for me, and a much-loved basil jalapeno margarita ($22) for my husband.
For dessert, don’t miss the salted caramel ice cream sundae with popcorn and hot fudge ($14) – it’s as good as it sounds! Also worth trying is the raspberry coupe glace ($16), a deconstructed cheesecake dessert with cream cheese ice cream and shortbread crumble.
Don’t leave without trying… crispy salmon sushi with chipotle mayonnaise and a soy glaze.
– Amy Greenburg
Five Minutes with Chef Jean-Georges
When he’s not at Dempsey Cookhouse & Bar during his twice-yearly visits to Singapore, he’s likely…
at a hawker centre! Chef JeanGeorges, who counts Tiong Bahru Food Centre as one of his favourites, says, “I like that a lot of younger people are taking over the hawker stands and doing new things. At one market, there was someone doing lattes, croissants, pan au chocolate! Things are changing for the best. My guess is that there will be a whole new generation of this kind of food; I think that will be the next trend everywhere.”
His favourite ingredients to use are…
ginger and chillies in any type, shape or form. “It’s a good time to be cooking! I love trying new things and combinations,” he says.
His cooking inspiration comes from…
“Everyday life, and travelling with my team,” he says. “When we go out, we eat, we visit farms, we learn and I come back with new ideas. It’s easy in Singapore because there are so many ethnicities and types of cuisine. In every area you go to, you capture something.”
He unwinds by…
spending time at his country house in New York, fishing and enjoying some “silence in the woods”.
Chic and sophisticated, but with a lovely casual feel, Atout’s atmosphere is relaxed, just as Chef Patrick Heuberger envisaged it to be when he recently took over this beautiful building for his new concept. Chef Patrick has been in Singapore since 2001 at the helm of some well-known establishments, and actually started his career at this very same venue many years ago, when it was Au Petit Salut.
Everything is beautifully prepared from fresh, seasonal ingredients and served with the finest wines. It’s a dream to pop in here to sample some wonderful specialities from the charcuterie counter such as homemade terrines, pâtés, rillettes, cold cuts or a cheese platter, paired with a chilled glass of wine, of course; or come in and have the full dining experience, like we did.
For starters, the chicken liver and foie gras pâté ($10) was enjoyed with artisan bread ($3), alongside a great choice of thinly sliced beef tongue from the charcuterie counter ($14.50 for 100g), washed down with a light Château Léoube Petit Rosé Tout at $13 per glass. For our main course, we chose the speciality Angus beef rib-eye with a pepper crust and brandy sauce (500g, $88), which is also available in a larger sharing portion. The recommended Toulouse pork sausage was chargrilled to perfection ($26), and enjoyed with a side of mashed potatoes ($8) and grilled zucchini, sweet peppers and fennel ($12).
The wine pairings for these dishes were perfect, too – Atout’s got a fantastic growing wine list of bubbles, rosés, whites and reds, all of which are have been personally sourced as “healthy” choices, and some of which are served by the glass at very reasonable prices (bottles can be purchased for takeaway too!).
To finish things in style, we shared a hazelnut chocolate “Pleasure Torte” with burned butter ice cream ($20) for dessert.
Don’t leave without trying… the chicken liver and foie gras pâté; this dish is amazing – so creamy and light. We also loved the unusual pepper crust on the rib-eye. Note: Atout is a cashless restaurant, so take your credit card!
– Jacqui Young
Run by the same team behind the famous PS. Cafe, Chopsuey Cafe offers classic Asian dishes with a delightful Western twist. Think quirky dishes with unexpected flavours like Ribeye Wok Breath Rice Noodles, Vietnamese Bahn Mi Pork Baguette or Sweet & Sour Fish & Chips. The tantalising menu and elegant colonial decor and airy ambience make Chopsuey Cafe a great place to relax, whether you’re there for brunch, lunch or dinner.
If you’re craving classic All-American grub, head over to Roadhouse for some of the best burgers on the island. Their sinful grilled offerings include the Foie Gras Burger, the Bacon Marinated Burger and the Simple Brie-vine Burger, a wagyu patty served with poached pear, brie cheese, rocket lettuce and sundried tomatoes. If you want to try as many tasty ingredients as possible, Roadhouse also gives you the option to build your own burger.
The White Rabbit
For an exquisite experience at one of the most elegant restaurants in Singapore, visit The White Rabbit. Housed in a restored chapel – imagine a lovely arched ceiling and beautiful stained glass windows – just off Dempsey Hill, it’s long been one of the top venues for weddings, birthdays and other memorable functions. Their beautifully plated European dishers, like truffle chicken and beef carpaccio, are rich with flavour. For delectable cocktails in a whimsical setting, head to their garden-esque bar out back.
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