18 Restaurants for a Celebration

What are the key ingredients for your choice of a restaurant? I get countless texts and emails from friends and acquaintances asking, “where should I go for [pick one: dinner with my boss, dinner with my fiancee, dinner with my bosses daughters, etc]”, and the answer depends on a multitude of variables.

Two weeks ago I posted about Les Amis which was at one very extreme end of the dining spectrum. The reason we were at Les Amis was all about a celebration with friends. In choosing the venue I thought long and hard about where to go.

One factor was budget and I’d already decided to splurge so then it was just a matter of choosing the right place within my budget (I possibly exceeded my budget on the actual night but shhhhh, don’t tell Husband).

Then of course there’s the food. What cuisine? French, Italian, Japanese? Chinese? Fusion?

Next we have ambience. This is a wide one and takes into account: noise level, warmth, outdoor/indoor, music, general vibe.

Then there are always downsides. It’s one thing to have the perfect restaurant, but if it’s out in the sticks, with nowhere nearby to go before or after, then that can be a downer on the night.

Oh yeah, and one thing all of these venues have in common is that you can BOOK them, I don’t know about you but I could never organise a celebration and not know whether I’d be able to score a  table on the actual night.

How do you decide on a venue?

Celebrations are only one of the reasons we might choose to dine out. But they’re important and require particular qualities to make the celebration a success. Sometimes a celebration is for an anniversary or birthday, sometimes they’re about a promotion at work, a friend passing through or sometimes, just celebrating life and the moment is good enough. Below are 18 restaurants for a celebration (I was going for 10 but ideas kept popping into my head for different celebrations!) Please tell me if you have any other favourites in the comments

FOC – for a fun celebration

FOC is actually one of the reasons I kicked off this post in the first place. I was looking at venues for a friends upcoming birthday. I wanted somewhere fun, with good access to bars before and/or after, good food (obvs) and decent service. I’ve liked FOC on each of my visits and I particularly like the buzzy atmosphere. You can read more here.
Budget: Dinner will set you back about $70 including food and one glass of wine
Food: Tapas with a twist. If you like dessert you HAVE to try the burger 😉
Ambience: Funky paper mache, a cool bar, and the ultra cool Jordi 😉
Downside: It can be a bit cool for school, and service can suffer. The bar seats are best, although only if there’s two or three of you

Kilo  – for a cool celebration

I’ve been meaning to write a full post about Kilo forever. One reason I haven’t is because photos are always tricky in the dim lighting (and you know I don’t like to use a flash 😉 ) Anyway, I can’t write this post without a mention of Kilo in Kalang. Now that they’ve opened a cool new bar upstairs, it’s a great venue for a night out. Being stuck out in the middle of nowhere to some extent was always a bit of a put off, but with a cool bar and DJ now installed, lots of events, and still the same great service and food, it’s a great venue for a celebration.
Budget: Dinner will set you back about $70 including food and one glass of wine
Food: Japanes-ey, fusion-ey, tapas-ey, sharing plates with good meat, fish and veggie options
Ambience: Non air conned can be a put off but (as long as there’s no haze) the room stays breathable and airy with fans and it’s nice having the open air windows to gaze at Singapore’s skyline
Downside: The Kalang location is cool, but there’s not much else around
Email reservations@kilokitchen.com

Yazawa – for a BBQ celebration

Yazawa is my go to for a Japanese BBQ venue. Reasonably priced (for Japanese BBQ), great service, really good food, you can’t really ask for more. They serve beer, wine and sake at reasonable prices too. You can read more here.
Budget: I’ve spent an average of $85 each, including tax for food. An Asahi beer is $10++
Food: Japanese BBQ
Ambience: Cool booths with grills in the middle for cooking your meat. Other food is served ready to eat. Staff on our last visit were nothing short of wonderful
Downside: None
Call +65 6235 2941 for reservations

Pollen – for a celebration with visitors

Like Long Chim I’d made judgements about Pollen, based on the touristic location, that were completely wrong. I had an inkling that things might be better than I’d thought after a few groups of friends had enjoyed themselves here. But my expectations were far exceeded by the wonderful service, simply amazing food and the gorgeous surroundings. I will write up a full post about Pollen in the coming weeks. This is an absolutely perfect location to bring visitors from out of town if you’re after a lunch treat.
Budget: There is a set lunch menu for $55++ per head, with glasses of wine for $15++ each. A la carte is more likely to set you back around $100++ per head. A fairly decadent lunch including a bottle of $185++ Rose (and I wouldn’t order that again if I knew the price) worked out at roughly $200 per head.
Food: International cuisine, fabulous meat and wonderful produce
Ambience: There are two parts to Pollen, the full on restaurant where you’re buggy driven to the edge of the Flower Dome and sit nestled amongst the foliage. Or the cafe which is located right inside the Flower Dome. I would definitely recommend the restaurant for a serious lunch
Downside: Gardens by the Bay is kind of far from anywhere else but we managed to get the buggy to deliver us back to MBS and then to jump on a ferry home

Long Chim – for a group celebration

I know I’ve been banging on a bit about Long Chim lately, but I do think it’s one of the best venues I’ve visited recently for good food, good service and cuisine that goes best when shared with a big group. You can read more here.
Budget: $125 per person (including a few glasses of wine each)
Food: Thai street food with a fancy twist
Ambience: Modern, nicely hued lighting, a great and buzzy bar where you will entirely forget you’re in a hotel behemoth
Downside: Marina Bay Sands is the only downside of Long Chim. Luckily the bar at Long Chim itself is great but there is isn’t really anywhere good to go nearby if you want to leave the venue

Luke’s at Gemmill Lane – for a romantic celebration

If Husband came home this evening and said, “Darling I’d like to treat you to a nice dinner, where would you like to go?” This is my answer 9 times out of 10. You can read more here.
Budget: Ridiculous for what it is but still somehow worth it at $260 per person
Food: It’s a chophouse so steak and seafood rule
Ambience: White tablecloths but casual, tables mostly of 2, 4 or maybe 6, muted but not too quiet
Downside: The cost but it’s a perfect venue for pre or post dinner drinks on Club Street
Call +65 6221 4468 for reservations

Manhattan – for a casual celebration

I say casual but that’s only because the tables don’t lend themselves to formality (low tables, more like coffee tables). So if it’s a work do or a group get together and you want somewhere non stuffy but smart and grown up, where you can book a table and get good food and great cocktails, this is your place. And, like Long Chim, you can entirely forget you’re in a hotel once you’re there. You can read more here.
Budget: The Sunday brunch is $150++ per head, dinner and a couple of cocktails will set you back about $100++ per head
Food: International cuisine served on sharing plates
Ambience: Dim lighting, low slung chairs, cool 1930’s-esque music
Downside: It’s in the Regent Hotel so the only other venues nearby are other hotels. My tip is to stay there and enjoy the bar

Aoki – for a quiet celebration

Aoki would also be good for a romantic celebration being that it’s private and very quiet. And I like the secretive Japanese decor with lots of little booths and curtains. The food is first class Japanese with a range of omakase menus and a la carte. You can read more here.
Budget: Lunch is a steal from $33++ per head but dinner will set you back $100++
Food: Japanese at its best
Ambience: Quiet and secluded
Downside: Tucked away off Orchard Road with not much else around. My suggestion is The Horse’s Mouth, a speakeasy tucked behind Ume Ume Ramen in the Forum Shopping Centre (step through the curtain (pictured above) when you enter Uma Uma Ramen which faces onto Orchard Road right near the corner of Cuscaden Road
Call +65 6333 8015

The Black Swan – for a rowdy celebration

The mezzanine level of The Black Swan transforms into a bit of a party place come nightfall. The setting is casual and there’s bar food available as well as drinks. This is definitely more of a drinking venue, with a few snacks thrown in to make sure you stay on the straight and narrow. The bar snacks are definitely not as good as the food in the restaurant, although oysters are always good here and on Wednesdays you get two free oysters with every glass of Champagne (girls and guys). Is there a better way to celebrate? You can read more here.
Budget: On Wednesday’s a glass of Champagne with two oysters is $21 ($17 for UOB cardholders), otherwise cocktails hover around the $20++ mark and a plate of three sliders is between $14++ and $18++ depending on your choice
Food: Oysters, sliders, truffle fries
Ambience: Very lively, a little bit Great Gatsby and a lot of fun
Downside: You’re in CBD Central so there’s lots of suits around. Amoy Street and Telok Ayer are a short walk away so I’d suggest (The) Spiffy Dapper or Jigger and Pony

The Knolls  – for a family celebration

When I say family, I mean an older family. In particular, Mums love this place! Especially during daylight the greenery, the pool and the hotel itself are a little oasis. Whether it’s a la carte or the Sunday brunch it’s hard to be disappointed. You can read more here.
Budget: The Sunday Champagne brunch is $178++
Food: The food is European and excellent, presentation is superb
Ambience: Aside from the lush location, the beautiful grounds and the staff, there’s the great band who play on Sundays
Downside: It’s on Sentosa, ‘nuff said

Absinthe – for a business celebration

An oldie but a goodie, Absinthe have private rooms suitable for groups up to 40 people. I’ve enjoyed the food here and the service has also been good overall. You can read more here.
Budget: The set lunch is good value at $38++ per head
Food: Classic French food
Ambience: A slightly elevated French style bistro
Downside: None aside from getting past the street hawkers on Boat Quay

Ristorante da Valentino – for an Italian celebration

I was just talking to someone fresh back from Italy about the difficulty in finding reasonably priced Italian food in Singapore and we talked about Da Val’s. It reminded me of my last good meal there, great pasta, very good steak and a great evening with friends. You can read more here.
Budget: Sadly more than it should be, it’s hard to get out without spending $150++ per head
Food: Classic Italian
Ambience: A true Italian trattoria in all but location (and price)
Downside: The price and the Turf City location, but once you’re inside you forget all about it
Call +65 6462 0555 for reservations

Les Amis – for a posh celebration (and when someone else is paying!)

You can catch up on the full post here but Les Amis is at the very high end of Singapore dining. The chef’s table is the way to go in my opinion, you’ll get impeccable service and a great view of the kitchen.
Budget: You might get away with $250++ per head at a minimum
Food: Classy French, beautifully executed
Ambience: A little sterile, there’s not a lot of warmth here, sedate and suitable for posh types or a high level business dinner
Downside: The price
Email lesamis@lesamis.com.sg for reservations

Tippling Club – for an alternative posh celebration

Tippling Club is a strong alternative to Les Amis. Both are comparable on price but they offer entirely different dining experiences. Creativity and quality are at the heart of the food at Tippling. A seat at the kitchen table reveals the effort and ingenuity in each dish. The crowd is hipster-ish, the cocktail bar is cool and the setting is relaxed fine dining.
Budget: A 10 course tasting menu is $265 per person
Food: Modern and international
Ambience: Super cool and chilled out, but you could get away with wearing a dress (girls 😉 )
Downside: The price
Phone +65 6475 2217 for reservations

Sorrel – for a friendly celebration

I haven’t had a chance to get back to Sorrel after an initial visit where the service proved somewhat of a letdown. A friend went recently though and not only enjoyed the food but commented on how the service wasn’t bad. She’s a trusted friend with high standards too so I may even be tempted back. Where Sorrel excels is the offering of a set menu at very reasonable pricing. You can read more here.
Budget: Five courses for $88++
Food: International cuisine with a hint of molecular and well executed
Ambience: A casual room that could work for a group of friends or a business dinner equally
Downside: The service

Cure – for a girlfriend celebration

The newly opened Cure by Andrew Walsh (formerly of Esquina) has great potential. I’ve only visited once but there’s no denying the quality and the craftsmanship of the food. Definitely one to consider. My full post is here.
Budget: $95++ per head for five courses
Food: Beautifully executed international plates
Ambience: Warm and buzzing (very warm if you’re next to the kitchen), great service
Downside: Too much truffle which is a problem where there’s no choice on the menu

Bistecca – for a steak celebration

As the name suggest, Bistecca do their steak very well. I mention Bistecca in this post because it’s one of those good fall back restaurants. If you’re in the area of Mohammed Sultan, and you’re after a semi intimate dinner, it could be a date night venue or a catch up with a few friends, and you don’t mind spending a few dollars, Bistecca is a good option. You can read more here.
Budget: A full dinner, with a serve of meat per person and a few drinks each, will cost you around
Food: Italian with a focus on meat
Ambience: A nice courtyard area out the front plus inside with a glass walled kitchen. Intimate without being too quiet
Downside: Like most Italian in Singapore it’s fairly hefty on the wallet
Phone +65 6735 6739 for reservations

OCF – for a historical celebration

I say historical celebration because the architecture of the OCF building is part of its charm. The beautiful Arts House, just near the river and opposite the newly refurbished Victoria Theatre is a charming venue. The food is beautifully presented and the menu offers a good selection of classics and more complex options. You can read more here.
Budget: The set lunch is great value at $38++ per head
Food: French inspired
Ambience: The baby grand piano and comfortable chairs are a highlight of the room. The lighting is nicely dimmed and the setting is quiet without being too hushed
Downside: The walk from the CBD is not ideal if you’re prone to working up a sweat (5 to 10 minutes)

What do you think of my choices? 

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