Singapore’s F&B scene is now on a gradual road to recovery, with the current Phase 2 allowing dining in and small group gatherings of up to five people at a time (with social distancing measures in place). However, the long-drawn Covid-19 pandemic has led to several restaurateurs suffering devastating losses, with many unfortunately making the tough decision to throw in the towel.
Even as we mourn the loss of these cherished eating spots and social spaces, we can still do what we can for the remaining restaurants and bars that are undoubtedly facing similar challenges. If your favourite eatery has sadly shuttered, here are a few alternate establishments to patronise instead.
1. The Reading Room
A cosy book café by day and bar by night, this popular haunt along Bukit Pasoh Road bid farewell on 27 June after a decade of operations. It was well-loved for its floor-to-ceiling bookshelves stuffed with tomes and curious oddities, and a bright red wall decorated with various knick-knacks and pictures. Warm and eclectic, this was the spot you went to for a casual catch-up or a quiet read.
The Huggs-Epigram Coffee Bookshop is a worthy substitute if you’re a lover of local authors. An eye-catching 11m-long bookshelf covers an entire wall, stocked almost completely with titles by Singaporean writers. A large glass window also means the store is typically flooded with plenty of natural light. The wooden tables and stools are not exactly conducive for full-day chilling, but are good enough for a spot of tea and a slice of cake. Look out for its “Book of the Week” promos, where you can enjoy 10% off a chosen title.
The Stärker Group announced via Facebook on 4 June that all seven of its outlets will be shut, the result of a “difficult decision” after closing temporarily in April due to the circuit breaker. The group was known for its chain of bistros serving hearty Western fare such as pork knuckles and baby back ribs, as well as large mugs of German-style beer that’s brewed in Singapore and Malaysia.
One of the first German food establishments to open in Singapore, Brauhaus Restaurant & Pub is nestled in the basement of United Square Shopping Centre and is best known for its wide selection of brews, super crispy pork knuckle, schnitzel and welcoming and homely vibe.
Known for its artisanal wood-fired bakes and tasty European-style mains, this quaint open-air Katong restaurant gained attention when it first debuted in 2017 for its large-scale, custom-built ovens. On 27 August, it announced that it will be shutting down permanently. “It has been an honour to ‘break bread” with you, and to be part of the Katong community,” the restaurant declared in their farewell post on their Instagram account. “We have enjoyed being your village baker.”
Small-batch, quality sourdough loaves and pastries that are made from scratch are the name of the game at Micro Bakery & Kitchen. The hole-in-the-wall neighbourhood bakery first started in a pocket-sized space at Serene Centre but has since opened another outlet within the iconic Red House at Katong. Tuck into its range of breakfast options, such as the big breakfast with sausage, scrambled free-range egg, Portobello mushroom and sourdough toast, or its signature tartine with house-made ricotta, roasted tomatoes and greens.
Modesto’s last remaining outlet at Orchard Rendezvous Hotel closed down in June after more than two decades in operations, due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. Its other outlet in The Elizabeth Hotel closed in April. The Italian diner was known for its traditional wood-fired pizzas and delicious pastas, as well as its casual alfresco atmosphere. Regulars were also familiar with some of the staff who had been working at the restaurant for decades.
Hand-stretched pizzas are done Neapolitan style at Pizza Fabbrica before they are cooked to perfection in a wood-fired oven (prominently situated in the middle of the open kitchen) for no more than 90 seconds for a smoky, charred finish. Helmed by chef Matteo Boifava, whose credentials include working at The Fat Duck in London, try the Capricciosa (a tomato-based pizza with fresh mozzarella, mushrooms, cooked ham, artichokes and Italian olives) with their selection of Italian craft beers.
This French patisserie – which was a homage to Marie Antoinette, the last queen of France – was known for its exquisitely crafted cakes and a serene boudoir-like setting. On 23 July, it announced it was closing its iconic Penhas Road outlet (the Millenia Walk outlet closed in April) on 30 July after being up and running for nine years.
A charming little French café nestled in Bukit Timah, Choupinette is frequented by regulars who live in the area for its freshly baked goods (made in-house and displayed in rustic baskets) and homely décor. Besides breakfast staples such as eggs Benedict and breakfast platters, they also serve lasagne and a tender duck confit on a bed of mash.
6. Maggie Joan’s
Tucked away in the back of Amoy Street, modern European restaurant Maggie Joan’s was not immediately noticeable, but quickly earned street cred for its underground vibe and inventive dishes with robust flavours. Its last social media post on 23 March spoke of the restaurant’s strict social-distancing measures, but it closed after that with little fanfare.
The produce-driven dishes from Rishi Naleendra’s Cloudstreet are a lesson in sophistication and experimental gastronomy. Unexpected ingredients are paired with flavour-packed results and each dish is artfully displayed on the plate. The grilled oyster with betel leaf and coconut or the barbecued turbot with spiced raisin and coconut miso are all examples of Naleendra’s new bold and inventive direction.
Please check the establishments’ respective websites for opening hours or guidelines before visiting, and remember to adhere to safe-distancing measures while out and about.