Food places are choosing to go for the multitasking concept to stand out: one comprises a restaurant, bar and creative workshop; while the other aims to provide back-to-basics partying with good food.
115 King George's Avenue
Few restaurants possess the resources to have their aprons silkscreened and hand-printed in-house, or get customised copper light fixtures specially crafted in a workshop located just upstairs. The Refinery, the newest addition to the industrial Jalan Besar enclave, is one of them.
In a nutshell, The Refinery is a concept comprising a restaurant, bar and creative workshop. A collaboration between Bu Shukun, design director of Architology Interiors, and Colin Chen, creative director of The General Company, this restaurant sees two local design-centric companies coming together to create a place where they can "refine and redefine everything from food, drink to craft".
This is not the first time they are teaming up. When Mr Bu opened The Tuckshop - a nostalgic Singaporean-style eatery - last year, he approached The General Company to help incorporate more local elements into the restaurant. After that, the two got to talking about other projects and, when they chanced upon the three-storey unit next to Yong Hup hardware store, they decided to combine forces to set up The Refinery as "the space was bigger than each of us had individually wished for", Mr Chen shared.
The grill restaurant on the first floor officially opens on Friday to serve up "good fun eats" and grilled skewered meats. "Satay is usually heavily marinated while yakitori emphasises lightly salted fresh ingredients," said Mr Bu. "We wanted to borrow ideas from both genres."
Taking local ingredients and putting them through a meticulous yakitori style of cooking, chefs Gino Goh and Gabriel Tan (former alumni of Wild Rocket and Oxwell & Co respectively) roll out Wagyu ribeyes with clarified butter and smoked sea salt; brined and browned Kurobuta pork jowl finished with tare glaze and roasted sesame; and seafood items and mushrooms from the grill.
Because Mr Bu wanted The Refinery to be a place he could eat at a few times a week, he decided that carbs such as donburi bowls and Tonkotsu ramen were a must.
Against a backdrop of marble tabletops and industrial chairs, lines hang from the 8m-high ceiling, allowing art pieces and photographs to be suspended above the diners. A spiral staircase leads guests to the mezzanine floor where bartender Eugene Chua (previously from Ah Sam Cold Drink Stall) will be shaking up classic cocktails, such as Old Fashioned and Negronis, with a twist.
"The focus is on the proportions, unique ingredients and custom-made bitters," said Mr Chen.
With a whole bevy of craftsmen and app designers working on the third storey of The Refinery, it is easy to come up with unique odds and ends for the restaurant.
In fact, Mr Bu whipped out a copper pipe that he intends to fashion into a flying fox delivery system. "We'll fill it up with food and send it flying up or down directly to the table - besides solving the shortage of manpower we are currently facing, it will also provide a visual show for diners," he said.
9 Scotts Road, #01-01 Pacific Plaza
The rainy season is upon us, with sudden downpours and inclement weather conditions, so rooftop bars are to be avoided. But one place where you can stay dry and get a drink is Cloud, the newest ultra-lounge/restaurant at Pacific Plaza. Taking over the space that was High Society, Mansion and That CD Shop, Cloud was opened by first-time F&B entrepreneur Roger Wu. His aim: for people to have good food and stay for the party.
With a Web-design company called Brand Shell in Britain; Liberty Marketing, Universal Marketing Solutions in Malaysia; and Evolve Marketing in the Philippines, the England-born Singapore permanent resident whose roots are in Hong Kong has always been in the property and marketing businesses.
After frequenting restaurant-nightspots such as Catalunya and Ku De Ta Singapore for a few years, he felt that there was still room for growth in the market, leading him to set up Cloud.
"When I found this unit in Pacific Plaza, people were telling me how the now-defunct China Black club was apparently very popular back in the day. My generation definitely remembers China Black and, hopefully, the new generation will remember Cloud," said Mr Wu.
The cafe cocktail bar on the first floor has been open since August. While the red velvet and posh chairs of High Society have been replaced with sleeker furnishings, the black-and-white chequered flooring remains.
Since High Society had cupcakes, Mr Wu decided to carry on the tradition, in addition to a menu of all-day breakfast items, salads, pasta and sandwiches. He added that the second floor will be a proper restaurant.
"During the day, we'll have a bistro-style menu, and we are going to add tapas to the line-up as well. Come nighttime, the place will be transformed into an ultra-lounge by re-arranging the furniture," said Mr Wu. None of the furniture is fixed and can be moved around to suit clients' needs when they hold events.
The ultra-lounge/restaurant has been named Cloud because "even if (diners are) having a bad week, every cloud has its silver lining," he quipped.
As a reference to its namesake, speciality cocktails such as Cirrus and Stratus are poured through a cloud-shaped apparatus to "rain the drink into the glass" - an idea inspired by a toy that Mr Wu had bought for his children. Prices are reasonable too, with none of the cocktails priced above $20 nett.
"Our motto is to bring the party back to basics," he said.
To set itself apart, the all-in-one nightspot offers portable chargers for mobile phones and free Wi-Fi. The ultra-lounge is also one of the first to boast the newest $120,000 ChamSys lighting system, which can produce 3D effects for "the wow factor".
"We've kept the decor simple with neutral colours because we knew the lighting system is going to be pretty intense," Mr Wu added.
This article by The Business Times was published in MyPaper, a free, bilingual newspaper published by Singapore Press Holdings.