Forget about green salads dressed with a squeeze of lemon. Here are four places with real food for real women for lunch with the girls in Singapore.
1 Raffles Place
Why it works for lunch with the girls: The unrivalled views across Singapore mean you won’t stop chatting about where “this” and “that” is. Yet it’s the “Ladies Who Lunch” package available this month – which adds on a manicure, luxury wheels and posh nosh in the sky – that makes your girls’ date feel that little bit more special.
The package kicks off at La Papillon, a sophisticated shophouse spa with nail technicians who have been pampering fingers and toes for a decade. We were presented with bubbles and muffins (hello, ideal breakfast) on arrival and sashayed into the salon for glorious manicures. Then we jumped into the posh UberEXEC ride that on-demand car service Uber had sent along as part of the package, feeling like the only things missing were headscarves and sunglasses. Lunch is at Stellar’s sleek restaurant on the 62nd floor of 1 Raffles Place.
What to eat: The set lunch menu is three courses, so we went for light and delicious sushi starters – tuna tataki salad and mini chirashi. It’s always tempting to gloss over the soup, but the zuwai kani (snow crab) miso shiro was incredible, plus it’s served Pocahontas-style in a massive leaf. For mains, go for the tender chicken breast with lemon gnocchi, or the Australian short rib, which falls apart at the touch. Save room for the dessert bar – it’s a brilliant buffet filled with brownies, colourful macaroons and cute little cakes.
What to drink: Naturally, we were on the Moët, darling.
Make it happen: Book the “Ladies Who Lunch” package through Stellar for a manicure or pedicure (90 minutes), a $20 Uber voucher and a three-course lunch. Quote Expat Living when you call, for the special price of $105 per person (10 percent off).
125 Tanglin Road
Why it works for lunch with the girls: It’s French, it’s got a très chic red-and-black boudoir interior, and it’s in the one building along Tanglin Road – Tudor Court – where you can convincingly pretend you’re in Europe for the afternoon. Hediard has been alive much longer than you have (160 years or so), and the café has been here for eight years. It’s the crème de la crème of cafés and the perfect way to sample all the goodies at the gourmet boutique next door.
What to eat: Save your euros with the incredibly flexible set lunch ($28), where you can mix and match soup, salads, tarama roe with toast and tartines with dessert, wine, tea or coffee. We went for the Four Seasons silky vegetable soup and the best-selling Croq’ Ferdinand tartine, an absolutely heavenly version of croque-monsieur made with Parma ham and mornay sauce (blended with extra Gruyère) in place of basic béchamel. Foie gras fans should try the pan-seared version here, served with mango pulp vinegar on a bed of gingerbread crumbs ($29). Desserts – from madeleines to macarons and beautiful stacks of bourbon vanilla mille-feuille ($8) – are divine, as expected. The service, though, was a surprise – a rare breed of café wait-staff trained to respond to customers’ eyes; a mere glance was all that was needed to summon someone immediately to the table.
What to drink: There are wonderful fruit nectars, coffees and teas that you can “try before you buy” from the boutique where you enter.
Great gift alert: The Singapore Spicy tea – a blend of leaves from China, India and Malaysia – is a fab gift for out-of-town visitors and friends preparing to move away.
The Moluccas Room
The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands
2 Bayfront Avenue, L1-81
Why it works for lunch with the girls: The Moluccas Room’s rijsttafel sharing concept is great for girls who like to try a little bit of everything; so different are the dishes that they will cater to even the fussiest of tastes. And once you’re full to the brim, you can work off some of that food with a good shopping spree at The Shoppes at Marina Bay Sands.
What to eat: From the comprehensive menu of modern Indonesian fare, we chose to go with the aforementioned rijsttafel ($30/35) set lunch, which comes with a choice of ten or 15 dishes depending on how peckish you’re feeling. Rijsttafel is traditionally an elaborate meal that consists of more than 40 dishes served with rice prepared in several different ways. At The Moluccas Room, you choose your entrée soup and rice to accompany a large tray of delicious dishes ranging from citrusy lamb curry to sautéed green beans with garlic. We chose the soto betawi soup to start – a coconut broth with beef, potatoes and tomatoes, a sweet and meaty dish that’s full of flavour. We then chose the nasi kuning rice, fragrant with turmeric and coconut. Our favourites were the terong kecap, the juicy, sautéed eggplant and the coconut chicken curry (spotting a pattern in my tastes?). To end, we ordered pisang coklat ($12), a tasty, crunchy banana crepe rolled with hazelnut chocolate filling and salted caramel ice cream.
What to drink: For a lunchtime treat, grab a glass of the sauvignon blanc ($20). And to cleanse the palate after all those flavours, finish up with the peppermint tea with honey.
Block 43 #01-62 Jalan Merah Saga Holland Village
Chip Bee Gardens
Why it works for lunch with the girls: You have the option for indoors or covered alfresco dining, and its situation on Chip Bee Gardens means that once you’re finished you can always head off for a mani-pedi or a foot massage in Holland Village, or go for just one more cheeky glass of bubbles in one of its many bars.
What to eat: We recommend starting with the beetroot salad ($18), with avocado, edamame, spinach and walnuts alongside the pan-fried haloumi ($19), which came on a bed of lentils, cucumber and mint. For main courses, go with the capsicum quinoa ($28) or the bosco misto ($28). The quinoa dish was lightly spiced, with the pleasant addition of tzatziki to add moisture, along with pickled grapes and an olive salad. The bosco misto was a substantial dish of two feta, spinach and tofu patties with crushed almonds and sesame seeds and an accompanying salad. We found the plum sauce sweet and sticky, and perhaps a little overpowering. A warm chocolate brownie ($10) rounded the lunch off.
What to drink: Bubbles should always be invited to a girls’ lunch, and we recommend the Zuccolo Spumanti Prosecco Extra Dry ($72).
Want more ideas to meet up for some girl talk? Find a place near you in our “Ladies Who Lunch” website special, with tons of great lunch ideas all neatly divided up by neighbourhood.