Singapore’s popular trio of riverside ’hoods has a lot to offer, with each area quite different from the next. While Robertson Quay is more low-key – great for a weeknight dinner catch-up with the girls – neighbouring Clarke Quay is known for its wilder nightlife; Boat Quay, located just next to the CBD, is the perfect spot for after-work drinking and dining. No matter which quay you choose to check out, one thing’s for sure – you’re bound to find great food, and lots of it. Here, we set out to try some of the hottest restaurants and bars across the three quays.
Go for: Hearty Italian fare with riverside views
If you fancy a taste of Italy (or simply a bit of naughty carb-loading) the Bella chain is the place to head. The restaurant has two fronts, Bella Pizza and Bella Pasta, situated on the same stretch but specialising in – you guessed it! – pizza and pasta dishes respectively.
We began with simple glasses of house white and red, along with the fagottino di bufala ($21), mozzarella balls wrapped in Parma ham, as well as the delicious parmigiana di melanzane con pomodoro e basilico ($19) – in English, that’s baked eggplant. For our main dish, we chose a white cheese-based number, the Pizza Bella Pizza ($26), a creamy mix of mozzarella, ricotta, thinly sliced salami and sautéed spinach.
Even if you’re feeling a tad full, we’d recommend trying at least one dessert. The pannacotta ($10) – delicate vanilla custard served with mixed berries – is the best choice for light eaters, or if you’re a chocolate fiend, the profiterol al cioccolato ($10) really hits the spot.
Don’t miss: The star of the show was the baked eggplant; the combination of tangy tomato and cheesiness was so moreish I think I could have eaten two portions of it on my own! Also, check out Bella’s three-course set lunch for $20 on weekdays. – Susannah Jaffer
Go for: A taste of Tuscany
Robertson Walk recently welcomed this new Italian restaurant, which serves up a generous selection of pizzas, pastas, wines and sweet treats. Inspired by the city of Lucca in Tuscany, the 70-seater eatery is a cosy spot for unwinding on a Friday night. As you step inside, the rustic red brick and wooden interior stands out as a refreshing shift from the over-hyped industrial theme sported by so many restaurants these days.
My meal got off to a perfect start with the ribollita ($6), a Tuscan soup with cannellini beans, vegetables and kale; it was wonderfully rich in flavour yet balanced in taste.
For mains, blue-cheese lovers might want to try the gorgonzola e frutta ($18/23), a one-of-a-kind pizza that incorporates prunes, dates and apricots with crumbled Italian blue cheese. Our table chose heartier options: spinach and ricotta ravioli ($23), which I thoroughly enjoyed, and my favourite, the pasta di Lucchese ($24); this tagliatelle dish combines seared chicken liver and bacon rashers, with Marsala added to tone down the rich liver flavours – it’s a must-try, even for non-liver lovers like me!
Don’t miss: Pasta di Lucchese; and don’t forget to end the meal with the homemade tiramisu ($10), which incorporates Marsala for an authentic boozy flavour.
Go for: Fine French wining and dining with impeccable service
As a Robertson Quay resident, I admit I’ve walked by this spot time after time, not knowing that such a gem of a restaurant lay within.
Focusing on the relationship between wine and food, Verre offers an extensive menu of generously portioned appetisers and mains, sides, desserts and over a dozen “wine bites”, listed with suggested wine pairings (from just $10 per glass). The service is impeccable, with a knowledgeable staff that can recommend wines for any dish.
To start, we enjoyed the creamy seafood papillote ($30), though our favourite was the half lobster salad ($38) – pieces of fresh lobster and greens in a delicious guacamole – complemented with a refreshing glass of Sticks Chardonnay ($18). Bonus points, too, for the lovely presentation of this dish, which arrived beautifully in a glass dome, as did other courses.
From the wine bites, we absolutely loved the slightly sweet forest tarte flambée ($22; think mushroom pizzette with a cream base and gruyère cheese), balanced nicely with a glass of sweet Marcel Deiss Gewürztraminer ($19). For mains, Evan enjoyed the pan-seared scallops with sweet corn ($38) – accompanied by a glass of Bourgogne Côte Chalonnaise “Les Clos” ($19.50); I had the perfectly cooked ribeye steak ($49) – expertly paired with a glass of delicious Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba ($18). The steak comes with a delicious mushroom-based forest ketchup and truffle fries that taste like they’ve been coated in jam (in a good way!).
We ended with the Saint-Honoré ($10) – a classic French puff-pastry dessert with cream filling and piping – and, our favourite, a de-constructed vanilla cheesecake ($17) – chunks of sweet cake, topped with tart passionfruit.
Don’t miss: Happy Hour from 4pm to 7pm Monday through Thursday, and 4pm to 6pm Friday through Sunday. – Amy Greenburg
Also in the area:
For casual-chic Thai, try:
#01-04 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay
For delectable Indian, try:
The Curry Culture
#01–10/11 The Quayside, 60 Robertson Quay
For a cheese-lover’s dream, try:
Wine Connection Cheese Bar
#01-05 Robertson Walk, 11 Unity Street
For a whisky enthusiast’s night out, try:
Fine Spirits by La Maison du Whisky
#01-10 The Pier, 80 Mohamed Sultan Road
Go for: A microbrewery with views of the Singapore River
This family-friendly riverside restaurant is certainly one of the places to visit if you fancy some good American-style grub. Sit outdoors for views of Clarke Quay or opt for the air-conditioned indoor space, where TVs screen sports games in every direction. There are plenty of choices on the menu and, no matter what night of the week you go, it’s always buzzing!
I’d highly recommend the cashewed pork and watermelon ($18) – cubed watermelon, caramelised pork belly and thinly sliced radish atop a bed of rocket with chopped cashews; it’s an unusual combination, but this one truly rocked and was more than enough to share between two.
There’s a great lineup of burgers to choose from; I went for the Cowboy ($24), a beef patty (made from New Zealand Black Angus and flame-grilled to your liking) with crispy bacon, cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and a nice big chunky pickle, plus a choice of one side dish.
My husband was in the mood for a great steak, so his choice was easy – the New Zealand Black Angus-ribeye ($44); tender and juicy, and accompanied by a house-made port-wine mushroom sauce, plus one side. Speaking of sides, the orange butter broccoli is definitely worth giving up the fries for!
Don’t forget dessert. We chose the warm bread pudding ($10) with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and caramel sauce; we’ve been back twice purely for this little treat.
Don’t Miss: Brewerkz’s lunch set ($15), or upgrade to include a pint of beer for only $20 (available from 12 noon to 3pm daily, excluding public holidays). – Valmai Dhir
Go for: Hearty Mexican and great margaritas
Located right on the Singapore River, Café Iguana has both indoor and outdoor seating and, no matter where you sit, you’re guaranteed a buzzing vibe. We arrived hungry, and chose as our starters the Camarones al Diablo ($23) – jumbo prawns cooked to perfection in a spicy habanero chilli sauce with ginger, capsicum and lime, served with cute spicy cheese quesadillas on the side – and yummy, fresh jalapeño poppers ($15) stuffed with cheese, battered and deep fried; these were served with dips of pico de gallo and lime crème to cool us down.
We loved the chicken fajitas ($27) – chicken, peppers, onions and pico de gallo – on a sizzling platter, with soft flour tortillas, sour cream and guacamole on the side. A tender shredded steak burrito ($25) – served with savoury Mexican rice, borracho beans, cheddar and mozzarella wrapped in a flour tortilla – topped off our main courses; a green chilli pork stew can also be added to the burrito for an additional $4.
Delicious, sweet churros ($12), served with choccy sauce and vanilla ice cream, were a great way to end the meal.
Don’t Miss: The tequila and mezcal – there are over 100 types to choose from – and the legendary frozen margaritas, which come in nine different flavours; the restaurant also has its own Iguana lager. – Jacqui Young
Go for: Drinks, modern Irish food, cheerful service and a great vibe, both inside and out. Don’t forget to look up and admire the pressed steel ceilings, part of a wonderfully ornate décor that’s more of a hallucinogen-inspired dream of the old country than a strictly traditional Irish pub. And a really good duo of female singers.
We score an alfresco table at 7pm on a Wednesday, and by 9pm the interior is filling up nicely, and that’s despite Clarke Quay’s many other options. Irish manager Brian heads up a cheerful team that brings us a jolly good daiquiri ($16) from the cocktail menu, and from the selection of draught beers a Black &Tan ($16), my first but not my last: fresh lager topped up with Guinness. There’s an extensive list of spirits, plus a red and a white wine served by the glass ($15) or by the bottle ($75).
I enjoy the salt and pepper squid starter but love the crispy pork belly popcorn (each $18) tossed in sesame, soy and honey. My tasty 200g wagyu cheeseburger ($23) with bacon and all the trimmings comes with piping hot fries, as does Roy’s delicious bowl of wagyu beef chilli ($20) topped with cheese sauce, pico de gallo and coriander, which he seems more than usually loath to share. Fish and chips or the open steak sandwich are also recommended.
Don’t Miss: The World HSBC Rugby Sevens (16 and 17 April) after-party at Clarke Quay. It’s bound to be a blast! – Verne Maree
Also in the area:
For gourmet burgers, try:
The Butchers Club
#01-01B Clarke Quay, 3A River Valley Road
For happy hour specials, try:
SQUE Rotisserie and Alehouse
#01-70 The Central, 6 Eu Tong Sen Street
For New Yorkstyle pizza, try:
#01-01A Merchant’s Court, 3A River Valley Road
For live music and late-night dancing, try:
The Highlander Bar and Restaurant
#01-11 Clarke Quay, 3B River Valley Road
Go for: Cantonese cuisine in a beautiful setting
Located at the Asian Civilisations Museum, this indoor-outdoor, waterfront Chinese restaurant is still great for a casual night out. Offering great river views of Boat Quay’s original godown façades and a nice breeze, the restaurant’s beautifully decorated interior blends old and new, as does the menu – Cantonese classics are given a modern twist, making it more accessible and a little less stuffy.
The portions are big, so pace yourself. We loved our starters of crispy cod “Bi Feng Tang”-style ($12/18/24) – crunchy fried cod with caramelised shallots and chillies – and the sticky prawn salad ($22) of fried prawns, watercress, green mango, pea shoots, pomegranate seeds, spearmint, coriander and ginger flowers, with a wine-honey dressing; the roast duck ($20 for a quarter) was also very juicy and flavourful. Wash it down with a strong glass of blood orange sangria ($16). Other highlights included the fried brown rice medley ($20/30/40) with mushrooms, asparagus, goji berries and pine nuts (I want to go back just for this rice), and the sweet steamed molten egg custard buns ($5.80 for three pieces), which tasted almost like cake batter.
For dessert, we loved the coconut custard with filo pastry dessert ($12) – Thai pineapple, honey mango, passionfruit pearls and coconut ice cream; the sticky date and longan pudding ($12) with butterscotch and a scoop of vanilla swirl ice cream was delish, too.
Don’t Miss: The scrumptious Singapore chilli king prawns ($28/42/56) with mantou bread for dipping – it’s like chilli crab, but with prawns. – Amy Greenburg
- Empress recently launched a Champagne Dim Sum Brunch, inclusive of selected soups, mains and desserts, and unlimited dim sum for $58. Free-flow champagne and drinks are available at an additional $48 to $60.
Go for: Set-menu fine dining for a romantic interlude or even a swish business dinner by French-trained local chef Jonathan Koh, plus brilliant sommelier service from GM Novalan, in an evocative early 19th-century riverside building. (OCF stands for Olivia Cassivelaun Fancourt, the first wife of Sir Stamford Raffles.)
Both chef and GM did serious time at the Raffles Hotel, and the quality comes through – but without a hint of stuffiness. From the seed-crusted baguette – accompanied with a pad of salted butter elegantly stamped with the OCF logo (I’ve gone right off that olive oil and balsamic business) – it’s one delight after another. What’s on offer changes with the seasons; you choose between the four-course Menu Gourmand ($88) or the slightly different Menu Prestige ($158).
For us, the standout was Chef Jonathan’s Inspiration, the surprise appetiser of the day (coming after a delicious little trio of amuses bouches) – crab tartare on a bed of cauliflower cream, topped with tomato espuma. Other highlights include the salt-baked celeriac with divine shavings of smoked foie gras; plump and tasty Gillardeau oysters with burnt leeks and crunchy potato couscous; an intensely flavourful lamb caillette; and a sublime Miyazaki ribeye (marbling A5). And for dessert, Le Café et Cacao (pictured), a sphere of whipped chocolate ganache, coconut brownie and espresso ice cream that collapses exquisitely as hot mocha chocolate is poured over it.
Don’t miss: Ladies’ Night on Wednesdays, offering a three-course meal for $98 that includes a free flow of champagne. For a different vibe, choose Friday or Saturday night for some live music with your meal: the baby grand on the small stage is courtesy of the crowd from muso haven Timbre downstairs. – Verne Maree
Go for: Pure New Zealand ingredients infused with Japanese flavours
Wakanui is past the busy part of the quay towards The Riverwalk. Our table was right on the riverfront, so we had the best seats in the house. There are also inside areas spread over two levels, if you’d prefer to sit indoors.
It’s a grill, with a large image of a cow outside, but the signature dishes include both red meat and fish, and there are some other options such as oysters. We also had a choice of seeded mustard or a wasabi and soy sauce concoction with our steak, so it’s the best of all worlds!
We tried three starters: Canterbury spring lamb chop ($6 each), short loin lamb tataki with shallot sauce ($16) and Akaroa Harbour king salmon($22), and I really couldn’t decide which was my favourite – all were delicious. Then, as we’re not huge eaters, we shared a 500g ribeye cut ($82) – mine was medium rare and Mum’s was medium (probably a better choice), with a mix of panfried asparagus and garlic ($12). The combination of flavours was excellent, but I would have liked a decent steak knife.
Afterward, we managed to fit in a little scoop of Hokey Pokey ice cream ($4) – not very Japanese, but a nice “finisher-offer”!
Don’t miss: The river view from Boat Quay; it has to be one of the most impressive in the world. Sitting with the skyscrapers to the right, the colonial classics to the left and MBS in the distance (plus the bum boats chugging past at regular intervals), it’s the perfect vantage point. – Rebecca Bisset
Also in the area:
For 360-degree skyline views, try:
Level 5, 80 Boat Quay
For all kinds of crepes, try:
79 Circular Road
For post-work tipples, try:
The Mad Men Attic Bar
11 North Canal Road, #03-02
For locally inspired and bespoke cocktails, try:
Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall
60A Boat Quay
“Decker Barbecue behind Boomarang in Robertson Quay. The smoked brisket is definitely the centrepiece, and the pulled pork and ribs are just as good; the cobbler is also very yummy. It’s a small establishment with three industrial-looking smokers. There are a couple of craft beers on tap and IPA bottles. There’s also a bit of space where kids can hang around with pavement chalk or on scooters.’ – Jaquelyn Molloy
“Super Loco in Robertson Quay is family-friendly, fresh and delicious. They have superb margaritas and it’s a great place to take visitors from out of town.” – Justine Gayer
“Our Village (in Boat Quay) has a great view and great food – North Indian and Sri Lankan, actually. The interior is beautiful, too.” – Kelly Dickinson
“I love Marutama Ramen in Liang Court (Clarke Quay). Get the ‘Aka Ramen’ and add an egg – you won’t regret it!” – Niki Vogel
“Kith Café in Robertson Quay is amazing for brekkie, brunch, lunch or coffee. Also, it’s affordable, and the staff are always smiling and cheerful!” – Máire Nic Amhlaoibh
“Señor Taco in Clarke Quay is outstanding and they have salsa dancing on Saturday nights; superb tacos and margaritas. Absinthe in Boat Quay is a good French restaurant, especially for lunch; they’ve got reasonably priced bottles of AIX rosé. Also, Si Chuan Dou Hua is a great Szechuan restaurant at the top of UOB Plaza. It’s a great place to take overseas visitors.” – Alexander Knight
“You won’t go wrong with Wine Connection Tapas Bar and Bistro (Robertson Quay) – affordable, quality wine and yummy tapas, pizzas and pasta. Great spot for a girls’ night out and Friday night post-work drinks.” – Niamh Drohan
“I love Indian restaurant Our Village. It’s a bit overpriced, but delicious. Book ahead for a nice view of the river.” – April Rice
“A bit hidden behind PS.Cafe Petit on Martin Road in Robertson Quay is Chopsuey Cafe– my favourite for Asian cuisine. Their dim sum is to die for, as is their garlic wok broccoli – I eat just that for dinner regularly!” – Tara Clarkson
“In Clarke Quay we really like McGettigan’s for food. I think it’s an undiscovered gem. We also love SQUE because it’s the best one-for-one happy hour in Singapore!” – Kathryn Calder “Highlander is my favourite bar for dancing in Clarke Quay! My favourite bar for drinks in Boat Quay is Southbridge – it’s got great views.” – Nadine Gasser
Head to our wine & dine page if you want to read more about great foods and amazing restaurants!