Home » Wine & Dine » Bakeries & Cafes » Restaurant review: Brunch in Singapore
Bakeries & Cafes Restaurants Western Restaurants Wine & Dine

Restaurant review: Brunch in Singapore

There’s something for everyone in this roundup of Singapore’s iconic weekend brunch, from beer and sausages in a German beer-hall, to an atmospheric Chinatown shophouse, to the incredible big-hotel buffets that come with hot and cold running waiters bearing bottles of free-flow champagne. Our team scoured the island and visited the The Marriott Café at Singapore Marriott Hotel, Mezza9 at The Grand Hyatt, Oscar’s at Conrad Centennial, Senso, Sentosa Resort & Spa, Speakeasy, Triple Three at Mandarin Orchard, Paulaner Bräuhaus, 1-TwentySix, Halia, La Villa and Pamplemousse Bistro.

 

Note: Most prices quoted are subject to taxes and service charges.

Dreamy Desserts

The Marriott Café

Singapore Marriott Hotel

320 Orchard Road

+65 6735 5800

If I hadn’t been in the company of my mother, who is rather fastidious when it comes to buffet etiquette, I would have been rather tempted to begin with the impressive dessert line – the longest in Singapore.

Decorum firmly intact, we tuck into an impressive selection of seafood, including poached spring lobster and Alaskan king crab legs. Aussie yabbies, fresh and meaty, were unquestionably our favourite and complemented perfectly by the gazpacho and free flowing Bollinger.

Hot food is ordered a la carte, a good alternative to self-service as it arrives piping hot and cooked to perfection. Following the recommendation of executive chef Adam Ashe, we order the Sumac lamb chop alongside his signature dishes – lobster thermidor and pan-seared foie gras with apple rosemary compote and brioche. Each is served in dainty, bite-sized portions, so you can save space for dessert.

After being fairly restrained with the champagne, all self-control is abandoned in the face of 12 metres of mini-desserts. After a decadent chocolate olive-oil cup and a deconstructed tiramisu with pistachios, in the name of research I also sample the homemade waffles, chocolate pralines and tasty mini-macaroons.There is also an impressive selection of cheeses flown in weekly from France.

Adults pay $80 or $118 with a free flow of champagne, wine and other beverages. Children pay $35. Sundays from 11.30am to 3pm.

Late Breakfast Show

Mezza9, The Grand Hyatt

10 Scotts Road
+65 6738 1234

“I’ve hidden your phone,” says a man who’s hovering by my table. “Oh!” I say, preoccupied with trying to balance six fat oysters on a plate in one hand and an orange juice in the other.

“Anyone walking past could have taken it from the table. I’ve hidden it under you napkin,” says our waiter – Patrick, as I soon find out. How refreshing to find a waiter who genuinely has your best interest at heart! Moments later, I spot him carrying an over-laden plate for an elderly gentleman. With his standard of service during a busy brunch at Mezza9, expect your champagne to be topped up before it’s empty.

As its name suggests, the restaurant is on a mezzanine level overlooking the hotel lobby. It has a loungey feel, with dim lighting and piano music that softens the bustle of people shuttling to and from the various buffet sections.

At the Mezza9 brunch, each type of cuisine is in a different part of the expansive room – so you won’t find the chilled seafood counter directly opposite the carvery. Speaking of which, the beef came perfectly pink with the best Yorkshire pudding this side of Land’s End.

There’s also an excellent sushi bar and yakitori grill, as well as a bread bar, cheese, and a dessert section complete with chocolate fondue and ice cream. Top tip: We sat in the heart of the action, so the different counters were equidistant from us; but if you’re after a quieter spot, request a table near the sushi bar.

It’s $138 per head with a free flow of Perrier-Jouet Grand Brut, Wolf Blass Cabernet Sauvignon, Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc, Tiger Beer, mojitos and bloody Marys; $288 if you upgrade the bubbly to Perrier-Jouet Belle Epoque; $108 for teens (13 to 17) and adults who stick to fruit juices and soft drinks; and $69 for children aged 7 to 12.

Amazing Graze

Oscar’s

Conrad Centennial

Two Temasek Boulevard

+65 6432 7481

Before Sunday brunch, eating a light (or no) breakfast is recommended, but be warned – the first glass of Moët tends to take effect very quickly! So with tummies growling we surveyed the buffet and pondered what to tackle first.

The freshly shucked oysters – one of the clear highlights – beckoned and we tried each of the Irish, Canadian, Scottish and French varieties to see if we could tell the difference. Needless to say we are not connoisseurs. Staying with the seafood theme, we savoured the sushi and sashimi along with prawns, bugs and accompanying salads.

We steered the children away from the waffles and ice-cream and got them interested in freshly cooked pasta with glazed ham from the carvery. Whilst they were quietly shovelling food, we tried the signature laksa from the noodle bar and sipped more champagne.

Lightning-fast staff efficiently cleared away plates and topped up our drinks – so well, in fact, that it was impossible not to lose track of the number of glasses.

When we gave in to the children’s cries for dessert, I mistakenly let the seven-year-old taste some panna cotta. Too late, I realised it was laced with almond liqueur. She was clearly not a fan. By the end we were all very, very full, despite having skipped the hot dishes in favour of cheese, coffee and petit fours to finish. And the five-year old declared himself, amazingly, so full he couldn’t possibly eat another chocolate.

Oscar’s is casual, relaxed and full of children who are entertained with complimentary crayons and colouring sheets. You can sit either indoors or on the terrace. The Amazing Graze brunch is available on the last Sunday of every month from 12 noon to 3pm. Children pay $49 and adults $98 per person (free flow juice), it’s $109 with a free flow of sparkling wine and $158 includes a free flow of champagne, wine and beer.

Italian Style

Senso
21 Club Street

+65 6224 3534

www.senso.sg

Walking along Club Street on a Sunday is reminiscent of being in Italy, where everything shuts religiously for the Sabbath. Then the quiet is broken by an outburst of laughter coming from Senso’s light-filled courtyard, where the sound of chatter and clinking glasses welcomes us.

Senso offers a sophisticated approach to brunch, mixing self-service with a la carte dishes. Both the pasta course and the main course are made to order, great for keeping groups together over the main meal.

On the buffet is mixed antipasti – of note are the mouth-watering oysters, Parma ham and melon, and beef carpaccio – plus a salad bar and a selection of breads. A massive wheel of Parmesan sits in proud centre-place amongst five other cheeses: the Gorgonzola and the truffle cheese are real winners. I clock the desserts and make a mental note to save space: a beautiful, berry-decorated tiramisu, a light green basil panna cotta and a pyramid of profiteroles.

The primi piatti are a handful of interesting pastas; we tried a good rustic fusilli with veal cheek and very al dente spaghetti with baby octopus. Of the small selection of main courses, my weak point is the lip-smacking, rosemary-flecked roasted lamb ribs with grilled vegetables. Fortunately, the dainty portion sizes compensate for the gluttony that buffets induce.

To accompany the brunch, a deliciously drinkable Torresella extra-dry Prosecco is generously topped up by smiling, attentive staff. All in all, the manageable selection of good fare with the choice of settings: cool indoor sophistication or the atmospheric buzzing alfresco, makes Senso a refreshing alternative for Sunday brunch, Italian style.

Brunch is on Sundays from 11.30am to 3.30pm. $88 per person includes a free flow of Prosecco.

Hangover at The Terrace

Sentosa Resort & Spa

2 Bukit Manis Road

+65 6371 1414

www.thesentosa.com

Let’s face it, it’s not difficult to find a decent champagne brunch in Singapore. And on this rainy Sunday morning, I have just endured a very wet, very muddy 11-hour ordeal at the Laneway Festival, so it’s quite an effort to get myself to Sentosa. But believe me: no matter how miserable the weather or excruciating your hangover, it’s well worth the trip.

How about foie gras, Canadian oysters or a freshly tossed Caesar salad prepared in a hollowed-out Parmesan wheel to tickle the appetite? I have barely completed Round One with my plate of starters before I declare my Facebook approval and vow to return with my entire extended family.

You need to pace yourself to enjoy the buffet’s delectable selection of Japanese, Indian and Western treats. The plates aren’t big enough to host the prime cut beef, lamb chops and rich tikka masala all at once. But maybe that’s a good thing, because my stomach isn’t either.

All this comes with a free flow of Duval Leroy champagne in picturesque surroundings: wandering peacocks, lush greenery and an inviting beachfront.

For dessert, I recommend you try … quite frankly, everything. But if I had to pick one, it would be the layered French toast with a dollop of ice cream. Finish off with a gorgeous decaf latte and a plate of cheese and biscuits, and I reckon a 4pm bedtime would not be out of order. 

Sunday champagne brunch is from 12 noon to 3pm, $146 for adults and $59 for children aged 4 to 12.

The Bootlegger’s Brunch

Speakeasy

54 Blair Road

+65 9759 5111

www.speakeasy.com.sg

Speakeasy, an atmospheric restaurant and bar in a bottle-green Blair Road shophouse, takes its name from those hidden establishments where vast quantities of liquor were imbibed during Prohibition in the US (1920-1933).

When my wife and I arrive for the Saturday-only brunch, a tableful of expat rugby players is attempting to recreate history. It’s still morning, but these guys are handling more booze than Al Capone. “Celebrating England’s victory over Wales in the Six Nations” is given as the official motive for the bender.

All of this is entirely fitting, since Speakeasy prides itself on its drinks; even the “Hangover Brunch” has a list of recovery cocktails as long as the food menu.

Not that the kitchen is an afterthought: my wife’s sea bass with caper butter sauce and sautéed potatoes ($15) is perfection on a plate, and I enjoy (who wouldn’t?) a fry-up of eggs, sausage, beans and bacon ($20). We finish with a “shared” Crêpes Suzette ($10), of which I eat the massive majority, not because she doesn’t think it’s completely delicious, but rather because her head is buried in the weekend newspaper. My motto is: if you news, you lose.

What else ticks the box at Speakeasy? The excellent cocktails (from $8) are made from hand-juiced fruits and homemade essences and syrups – you can even order authentic Prohibition-era drinks (such as the Greyhound – rough gin and fresh grapefruit). Quirky imported ales and affordable wines also feature (from $13). Food-wise, a range of tapas-style tasting plates is available at night, though on Friday you’ll find a full dinner menu, with the likes of asparagus risotto, strip-loin steak, and vanilla ice cream with balsamic berries.

It’s also worth mentioning that the venue can be hired for private events through parent company, The Hidden Host, so long as you can prise those rugby blokes away from the bar.

Hot in the City

Triple Three

Level 5, Mandarin Orchard Singapore

333 Orchard Road

+65 6831 6288

With a newly revamped brunch concept and many changes afoot – including a sleek, new alfresco bar overlooking Orchard Road set to open in a few months, Triple Three is stepping up its game.

Everything you want and – let’s face it – need, is at hand. Sushi, dim sum, crab legs, lobster, barbecued meats and local delicacies grace ten live cooking stations, carefully laid out to ensure the perfect brunch-time flow. The recently expanded cheese selection has its very own room.

Signature honey-glazed ham and Wagyu beef are just two of 128 dishes offered. The fresh salads may be a less-than-obvious choice between the ever-popular Peking duck and pan-fried foie gras, but some of this brunch’s best bites are hidden in these sweet and savoury selections.

Such gourmet fare could be a recipe for pomposity, but plentiful pops of free-flowing Moët & Chandon counteract that beautifully. Swing Out Sister pairs perfectly with my champagne and Japanese cheesecake, and from table to table and room to room, fans of 70s, 80s and 90s tunes are kicking back, topping up and rocking out. Ahh – here comes Billy Ocean’s “Caribbean Queen” – if only there was a dance floor.

With a free flow of Moët & Chandon champagne, wine, beer, soft drinks and juices it costs $128; without alcoholic beverages you pay $98. Brunch is from 12pm to 3pm.

Here for the Beer

Paulaner Bräuhaus

9 Raffles Boulevard #01-01

Millenia Walk

+65 6883 2572

www.paulaner-brauhaus.com

After the Sunday-morning somnolence of the ground floor bar, it’s a pleasant shock when the lift doors open to reveal a Bavarian beer-hall in the midst of a beer-swilling, pork-munching feeding frenzy. Good thing we booked!

Executive Chef Klaus Lukarsch says it’s generally the other way round – packed in the pub, quieter in the restaurant – but our Sunday brunch buffet includes a free flow of the brilliant beer that’s brewed on the premises. The restaurant is fairly busy on Wednesdays and Fridays, and since they started serving one-for-one beers on Mondays, that’s picking up too.

It’s a nice mix of couples, groups and families, both expat and local. In a blessedly remote kids’ corner, a balloon man and a face-painter do their magical thing.

There’s mushroom soup, a good herb pâté and fresh, crusty bread: whole-grain, rye and white, worth spoiling your appetite for; a cold spread of smoked salmon, peeled prawns and various salads, including the all-important warm potato salad. Swarms of ravenous brunchers regularly flatten the platters, but it’s not long before someone fills them up again.

I love the pork medallions in cream sauce, and the house specialty: pork knuckle with sauerkraut. Four types of sausages are on offer, a couple of fish dishes, and plenty of mashed or sautéed potatoes, good mixed vegetables and authentic pretzels.

While agreeing they were surplus to actual nutritional requirements, Roy praised the apple strudel with vanilla sauce and I wolfed a little tiramisu-in-a-cup.

All in all, Paulaner Bräuhaus is authentic, homey German food with warm service and a friendly atmosphere, ideal for two or three couples, or larger groups. The Sunday brunch buffet from 11.30am to 2.30pm is $45 with soft drinks or $55 with a free flow of beer on tap. For children up to 11 years of age, it’s just $12.

Seaside Chill-out

1-TwentySix

902 East Coast Parkway #01-26

Playground @ Big Splash

+65 6348 2126

www.1-twentysix.com

Don’t leave Singapore without experiencing a Sunday brunch at 1-TwentySix: a laid-back restaurant at the East Coast Park with a leafy outlook, cooling sea breezes, comfortable, shady seating and delicious food.

As a departure from the all-inclusive buffets at the large hotels, 1-TwentySix offers a compilation of robust breakfast and hearty lunch dishes, and there are children’s options, too.

It’s not yet midday, so we start with a cleansing fresh juice of carrot, orange, mango and ginger ($10). This pairs nicely with the buttermilk pancake topped with grilled banana and maple syrup ($15.50) and counter-balances the artery-busting croque monsieur ($14.50), which drips Gruyère and béchamel gratin over honey baked ham, all sandwiched between sweet brioche. This dish is must-try. A table near us orders the brioche French toast ($15.50) and hash brown and beef short rib ($18); both look and smell enticing.

From the lunch menu, we declare the capellini with king prawns and roasted tomatoes ($24/34) and the baby baked chicken with rosemary potatoes ($38) to be hearty hunger-busters. It’s almost impossible, but we squeeze in a dessert trifecta of Pavlova, lemon-lime parfait and devil’s cake($16) – a fine way to finish.

A pint of Archipelago Wheat Ale ($14) and a dry pinot grigio ($15) are perfect accompaniments to a chilled-out afternoon. There’s a good mix of families and couples enjoying the perfect day and fine food, begging the question: Is there anywhere in the world we would rather be?

Brunch is served on Sundays from 11am to 3pm.

Botanical Brunching

Halia

1 Cluny Road

Singapore Botanical Gardens

+65 6476 6711

www.halia.com.sg

Set in the tropical tranquillity of Singapore’s lush Botanical Garden, Halia Restaurant offers an exquisite dining experience. The cool ambience of the interior is enhanced by large windows that let in natural light and give you a restful view of the green forest outside.

We’re greeted warmly by friendly, efficient staff and offered a blissfully cold welcome drink called Ginger Jive. Whipped up to a frothy frenzy of fresh ginger, fruit punch, orange and wild mountain honey, it’s the perfect thirst-quencher. “Halia” means ginger in the Malay language, and this root is a theme that runs imaginatively throughout the mouth-watering menu. A delicious variety of herbal teas (from $7) is available, too.

Each dish is prepared with care and panache, and the portions are of a good size. I order the fresh Bircher muesli with wild mountain honey and aloe vera yogurt ($14), followed by a kurobuta pork and portabella burger ($20). My husband revels in his crisp black pepper soft shell crab ($18), and says that the fish in his poached egg on brioche with pan roasted ocean trout ($26) tastes as if it was pulled out of the ocean this morning.

Amidst the sublime menu choices, pure genius lurks in the form of the cappuccino dunking dip ($12). For chocolate lovers, this is it. Thank you, Halia Restaurant, for introducing me to my favourite pudding in the world!

Brunch is available on Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 3pm. Champagne can be ordered by the glass.

Back to School

La Villa (awaiting image)

341 River Valley Road #01-03

+65 6836 5286

www.lavilla.sg

Travelling by hot air balloon – check. Visiting the Great Wall – check. Returning a decade later to my primary school for a champagne brunch – now I can check that box, too. It’s not every day that your old school canteen gets a makeover of this magnitude, and when it does, you know it’s time to revisit the past.

The setting is intimate but low-key, casual enough for people who like a leisurely Sunday morning, but fancy enough for those who, like me, enjoy an occasion to put on heels. The moment we sat down, our glasses were filled with Prosecco and the ever-cheerful staff made sure they stayed that way the entire time.

In true breakfast spirit, start by choosing from the eggs menu: we ordered scrambled eggs on pumpernickel bread and sunny-side-up eggs with hash. Then, to add the lunch into brunch, we picked from a selection of pastas, pizzas and main courses that the crew skilfully whips up in a flash. We were happily satisfied with the dory fish basted with butter lemon sauce and the wood-fired chicken sausage pizza.

In between courses, as we grazed on a buffet of salads, sandwiches, cereals, cold cuts and of course, dessert, we decided that this style of brunch is a perfect compromise: having a menu to choose your hot food from means not being overwhelmed with choices, but the mini-buffet means we don’t really miss out on all the fun.

For adults, it’s $65 with a free flow of Prosecco, juices, tea and coffee; teens (13 to 17) pay $48 and kids pay $20, which includes a free flow of juices.

Pamplemousse Bistro at Dempsey 

Eggs and Ambience

Pamplemousse Bistro

Blk 7 Dempsey Road #01-04

+65 6475 0080

www.pamplemousse.com.sg

Eggs are one of my favourite foods, and I even have my own personal rating system for eggs Benedict. Pamplemousse scored as highly on their eggs as on their décor and ambience.

Chef-owner Adrian Ling loves eggs, too, so there’s an entire menu of them for brunch. My mum chose the French-inspired eggs cocotte ($22), baked with caramelised onions, sprinkled with truffle salt and topped with a generous portion of foie gras. I managed to steal a bite, and it was full of subtle flavours, unusual but very tasty.

The eggs Benedict ($18) here has dual nationality, pairing the Spanish jamon Iberico, which has a lovely fine texture, with a Japanese citrus fruit called yizu in the traditional hollandaise sauce. The yizu makes the sauce light and unusually delicious, making this dish a 10/10 for me.

We chose not to imbibe, as my mother was still recovering from jetlag, but the Illy coffee was so good that we had a couple of cups each. I would have liked to try the crepes ($11) afterwards, but my jeans were already tight after the long Christmas holidays, so I restrained myself.

Although the food scored highly, the classic décor was what really delighted me. A large Renoir print fills one wall all the way to the high ceiling, deep chocolate brown walls are enscripted with Chef’s favourite ingredients, and beautiful chandeliers complete the room. The brainchild of a husband and wife team, Pamplemousse has been created with love – and I thought it was lovely.

Comments