With eating out not permitted during this period, finedining restaurants, which bank a significant part of the experience on service and presentation, have had to get creative.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

Modern French stalwart Saint Pierre has launched a takeaway initiative called Virtual Saint Pierre, where guests are sent an entire multi-course meal in a bento box before participating in a Zoom video conference with other diners. When everyone has received their box, the meal begins – just as it would in the restaurant itself – with chef-owner Emmanuel Stroobant introducing the menu and remotely engaging with guests.

“These trying times have only spurred us to be more innovative. Virtual Saint Pierre is our way of bringing friends and families from together, bonded by a shared love for fine cuisine and sparkling conversation,” says Stroobant.

Expect the same exquisite ingredients and attention to detail one might find at the restaurant during normal times — including the option to adjust the menu to suit dietary needs.

Meanwhile, typically degustation-only restaurants are offering an a la carte menu. Odette, which recently took the top spot on Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list, has Phitiviers Grand Cuisine, an Escoffierian centrepiece of Bresse chicken, foie gras, pigeon and lardo all layered beneath a dome of buttery puff pastry.

Restaurant Zen, meanwhile, brings its Nordic-influenced dinner theatre into people’s homes by offering gift baskets filled with house-made condiments, cheeses, wine and a five-course menu complete with the opportunity to assemble the restaurant’s iconic French toast.
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Virtual Saint Pierre’s bento box (pictured, above) is a delight while Odette’s pastry (right) transports you to France with one bite.
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It might seem simple but transitioning to a purely delivery or takeaway business for F&B outlets requires significant logistical effort.

For wealth manager-turned-tech entrepreneur Keith Tan, founder and CEO of Crown Coffee, having to stop all dine-in orders meant the perfect opportunity to roll out the app for his Internet of Things cafe.

The app, which includes a function for drive-in orders, has been repurposed for Ella, Singapore’s first robot barista developed by Crown Digital, Tan’s tech retail solutions company. Ella can take coffee tickets remotely, so customers just need to order and pay via the app, then drive up and collect their order at a scheduled time. Signature food items include smoked Guinness pork ribs and beef rendang panini. 

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Singapore F&B brand SPRMRKT has opened its third outlet at Dempsey Hill, offering the same combination of a retail store, an art space and a restaurant. Heading the kitchen is chef Marc Wee, who presents a vegetable-focused menu of items like baked Japanese eggplant with shio kombu and honey yogurt, as well as roasted soya-glazed butternut squash, served with black barley and farro dressed in tangy stingless bee honey. In response to the current Circuit Breaker, SPRMRKT is offering an extensive range of takeaway and delivery options such as meal subscriptions, and family bundles complete with a children’s storybook. 
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Chef Rishi Naleendra’s highly-anticipated Sri Lankan restaurant Kotuwa is finally open. He may have made his name cooking clever, delicious modern Australian, but Naleendra is embracing his heritage this time. Circumstances have forced Kotuwa to start with a condensed takeaway menu that includes staples from the South Asian country such as cashew nut curry, kottu roti – chopped up flatbread cooked with gravy and vegetables – and a variety of sambols (the Sri Lankan equivalent of sambal), pickles, and preserves. A wider menu will be available once the restaurant is fully up and running.  Wanderlust Hotel, 2 Dickson Road. Tel: 6518-7868.