Saveur's founder Dylan Ong is opening a new restaurant called The Masses in Beach Road. Photo: Ong Wee Jin
1. THE MASSES
Where: 85 Beach Road
Opening date: April 15
Open: Noon to 9.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), noon to 9pm (Sundays)
He may no longer own the Saveur chain of restaurants, but that has not stopped Mr Dylan Ong, 30, from sticking to his mission of serving affordable food.
The casual 45-seat restaurant called The Masses features a "contemporary, happy menu" that uses seasonal produce, housemade ingredients such as pickled lotus root and fruit enzyme for dessert items.
Starters include chicken collagen veloute ($8); burrata with pickled Japanese daikon, basil oil and wholemeal chips ($14); and char-grilled corn ($7), with parmesan, chipotle aioli and caramel popcorn.
For mains, options include duck leg confit ($12.90); Duroc pork loin ($15), with truffle scrambled egg, plums and chicharron; and US Black Angus striploin ($22.90), with potato mille feuille and organic watercress salad .
Dessert offerings include deep-fried camembert ($8.90), with yogurt ice cream, gula melaka granola and fruit enzyme; housemade banana cake with rum and raisin ice cream ($9.90); and old-school ice pops ($6 each) made with fermented juice and lavender honey.
Classic cocktails such as whisky sours and cosmopolitans are priced between $12 and $15 each.
Mr Ong picked the location in Beach Road as he observes that there are not many Western food options along Liang Seah Street. The area is also frequented by young diners.
On offering reasonable prices, he adds: "Singapore is considered the most expensive country in the world. But does that mean that the food has to be expensive too?
"As the name suggests, we want to cater to the masses."
Deliciae hospitality management. Photo: Ong Wee Jin
2. DELICIAE HOSPITALITY MANAGEMENT
Where: Robinsons The Heeren, 260 Orchard Road
Opening date: Second week of next month
Get the best of four worlds at Robinsons The Heeren, as Deliciae Hospitality Management brings three of its concepts - L'Entrecote The Steak & Fries Bistro, Sabio Tapas Bar and &Made Burger Bistro - to join Angela May Food Chapters restaurant at the mall.
Diners can order across the four concepts at the outdoor duplex.
This is also a new chapter for Thai-American television personality and chef May, 41, who will introduce a new menu focusing on "healthy Asian classics".
She will also use locally farmed herbs and vegetables as well as sustainable seafood.
One of her new dishes is truffled Asian dumplings, with a tofu and oyster mushroom filling, served with water chestnuts, coconut cream and kaffir lime leaves.
The foodie cluster also marks the return of &Made Burger Bistro, which first opened in 2012 at Pacific Plaza, followed by Quayside Isle.
Deliciae's founder Olivier Bendel, 46, is also in talks with the Robinsons Group to take the same model to different locations in Asia and the Middle East.
Meanwhile, it is business as usual at the group's other restaurants, including Forlino at One Fullerton and Sabio by the Sea at Quayside Isle.
While plenty of local and international chefs are opening restaurants in Singapore, Mr Bendel believes things will slow down soon.
He says: "Singaporeans are not as interested in 'flashy' concepts. They are now looking for variety and value and casual spaces offering high value-for-money classics. That's the direction for the scene this year."
AMO. Photo: Ong Wee Jin
Where: 33 HongKong Street
Opening date: Late next month
Open: Noon to 2.30pm (weekdays), 6 to 10.30pm (Mondays to Saturdays), closed on Sundays
Call it a labour of love. The 90-seat restaurant Amo - short for "Amore" (love in Italian) - has been in the works for three years, says Mr Beppe de Vito, 44, founder of the ilLido Group of restaurants.
The Italian restaurant's highlight is its pizza.
"There's a whole science behind making really good pizza - that is not emphasised by many today - which we have developed and want to bring to the table," he says.
Besides sending two Italian chefs for pizza-training in Italy, he spent the past two years growing the mother yeast to create the "perfect" pizza dough.
Amo took shape even before he opened Aura restaurant at the National Gallery Singapore.
Expect classic pizzas such as Romana ($28++), with mozzarella, anchovies, capers as well as tomatoes imported from Mount Vesuvius in Campania, Italy.
Other options include friarielli (or broccoli rabe), pancetta, pumpkin and smoked mozzarella ($28++); and bone marrow, pesto, anchovy and salsa verde ($29++).
Main courses that are good for sharing include spaghettoni with whole Boston lobster and tarragon ($78++); grilled octopus with friggitelli peppers and Calabrian chilli vinaigrette ($35++); and butter-roasted whole chicken with grilled corn custard ($58++).
His other ventures in the future will be casual, says Mr de Vito, who hopes to open Mediterranean- or Mexican-influenced restaurants.
On how Amo fits in with the current dining landscape, he says: "It's what people want - a casual joint that allows customers to relax and have fun while having a real culinary experience with top-notch food."
Westholme wagyu “chef’s cut” steak. Photo: Ong Wee Jin
Where: 04-09/04-K1 Paragon, 290 Orchard Road
Open: 9am to 9.30pm (last order) daily
Three years after opening 63Celsius restaurant at Asia Square, owner Joseph Wong has branched out into Orchard Road, with a sister outlet called 63 at Paragon mall. Mr Wong, 50, who opened the now-defunct tapas bar Foodbar DaDa at Robertson Quay, says this second outlet caters to loyal diners who asked for a branch of the restaurant in town.
The laid-back bistro-style eatery seats 40 diners and has an external bar counter for drinks and coffee, with beans from Allpress Espresso in Auckland, New Zealand.
In contrast, the Asia Square outlet is a bigger restaurant and post-work watering hole for professionals in the Central Business District. The menu has a variety of small-plate options to go with the wide selection of drinks.
At 63, the menu also features hearty mains. There is a section dedicated to beef dishes such as Toriyama A5 chuck roll ($48), with baby gem lettuce, soya, yuzu and wasabi; and Westholme wagyu "chef's cut" steak ($33) with beef jus, cauliflower and horseradish.
Other dishes include Spanish Duroc pork chop ($28); prawn and oysters linguine ($25) tossed with kombu, chilli and lemon and topped with fried egg; and tuna tartare ($20 or $10 as a side dish).
A small selection of brunch items (9am to 4pm daily) include 63French Toast ($15); 63Breakfast ($20), with wagyu sausage, mushrooms, eggs, bacon and brioche; and scrambled eggs on truffled toast ($20) with mushrooms.
With this second venture, he hopes to keep prices friendly, but stresses that the food and beverage scene "isn't about a blind price war with no focus on value and quality".
Noting that there are other cafes in the mall such as PS Cafe and Greyhound Cafe, he says: "Our food is not just 'cafe food'. Plus, the menu is different from the Asia Square outlet, so that those who dine at both branches won't be eating the same thing."
This story first appeared on The Straits Times on April 9, 2017.