Stop! Don’t be repulsed at the idea of drinks and dinner in Boat Quay. I know your first thought is of street hawkers trying to lure you into their establishment for ‘the best chilli crab’ or some other long suffering seafood that’s been sitting in a tank for who knows how long. Or even worse, hordes of business people (mostly men) milling about slapping each other on the back and telling each other how fabulous they are whilst blocking your path to the bar and/or leering at every female who walks in. Thankfully though in the past year or so there has been a strong and steady improvement in both the eating and drinking options in this popular tourist spot. We’ve seen Mad Men Attic Bar, Communal, Enoteca L’Operetta, Shoebox Canteen (aka Bitters and Love) and the likes of Absinthe
opening on Boat Quay.
Being Friday night though I thought it appropriate to shine the light on three venues that can really make your Friday night come alive.
First up a place that fits the bill for both drinks and dinner in Boat Quay is Ô Comptoir. This open air French pancake house has swiftly established itself as a go to for basic French fare at very reasonable prices. The corner position with a mix of indoor (air con) seating, open air bar seats and tables on the busy kerb is a perfect people watching spot at any time of day or night. During the day it’s hard to go past the 3 course lunch at $16++. You’ll get a simple salad, a basic crepe of your choice of crepe (options include basics like ham and gruyere, ham, cheese and tomato, with or without egg) and a plate of mini desserts.
The mini desserts really are mini, literally a bite of three choices. But the crepes themselves are a perfect plate size that is filled with fresh and tasty ingredients. I tried a Chicken Masala crepe (pictured top, $18++ as a stand alone dish and not included in the set option) and was impressed by the tender and spicy chicken, and the crispy crepe, that I’d be more inclined to describe as a galette (ie savoury pancake). Really hearty and simple fare that tastes superb.
Although on my visit I’d intended to only try one sample I couldn’t resist going for the Salted Caramel Crepe for dessert. The crepe itself was again very good and the salted caramel sauce tasted good but was way too liberally poured for my liking. The wine list offers a good selection at prices ranging between about $12 and $16, beers are $11 or $12 for a pint and they’ve gained quite a following for their ciders. What’s more is that happy hour runs from 3pm until 8pm so it’s a perfect spot to grab dinner and a drink after a hard day at the office. And they don’t close until after midnight so you can enjoy the open air and tunes for quite some time.Ô Comptoir
79 Circular Road, Singapore
phone +65 6534 7645
Katanashi is also a great venue for drinks and dinner in Boat Quay. The vibe here on a Friday night is full of laughter and groups enjoying the hearty Japanese tapas. One of the first things you’ll notice is the very helpful staff, on my first visit here the place was jammed but there were two seats at the bar reserved for a sitting that was 20 minutes away. We managed to convince them that we just needed a very quick bite to eat before we headed to the theatre and that we’d be out in 15 minutes. They agreed and we scoffed down a bowl of Chazuke, rice soup in a rich broth, and a Unagi Meshi, grilled eel with rice in a hot stone bowl, in record time.
The meals are hearty and tasty, perfect for a quick bite and to fill you up. Subsequent visits have shown the same staff still around and doing a great job of managing the busy crowds. The Volcano is a particularly impressive dish, a plate piled high with rice and goodies that then has a hot broth poured right over the top. It’s a great showpiece and tasty to boot. Salmon is flame seared at the table and the omelette with fish flakes is surprisingly tasty. I’d give the octopus a miss, and the beef carpaccio was also pretty average. The sake list has something to please different budgets and on our visit the choice recommended to us worked well for us. We spent about $60 per head for plenty of food and drinks for four people. Katanashi is also a great venue for a table for two
at the bar.Katanashi
77 Boat Quay, Singapore, 049865
phone +65 6533 0490
The choices of Indian food on Boat Quay are surprisingly good. First there is Maharajah
, set on the main strip with a good vibe from passers by. The North Indian menu is pretty standard and the food and service are good. My favourite though is Our Village, mainly because it’s up a few flights of stairs and you need to know it’s there to visit. Once you arrive you’ll be on a roof terrace with pretty great views over Boat Quay and the city.
It’s a perfect location to bring the visitors and show off your home town. The food is good although there’s nothing that particularly stands out. I did think the prawns on our last visit were average and they’re fairly pricey so I’d give them a miss next time. And service can often be haphazard and a little gruff if they’re busy. But sitting up here on warm evening is a great place to enjoy a beer and some decent Indian food with friends. For drinks and dinner you’ll pay around $35 each for food and $50 for a bottle of decent Pinot Grigio and around $8 for a beer.
46 Boat Quay, Singapore, 049835 (look for the Indian carved doorway leading upstairs)
phone +65 6538 3058
Lastly, I can’t write a post about Boat Quay without including Spiffy Dapper [please note that Spiffy has moved to 73 Amoy Street, see below, happily the vibe remains the same!]
. Whether it’s before or after your visit to any of the establishments above, you can still fit in a cocktail or two at this wonderful little cocktail bar. For $20 all in you’ll get one of the best cocktails in Singapore. Not only that but it will be served to you by someone passionate about their drinks and their customer service. And as they like to say at Spiffy what, “this place is really about is chilling the fuck out and having a good time.” Thank you and bring on Friday night.
NOW AT Second floor, 73 Amoy Street, Singapore
phone +65 8233 9810
(open Mon – Fri only)
What’s your favourite place for drinks and dinner in the Boat Quay area?