Restaurants championing a more rustic style of European cooking are popping up all over the island – some giving patrons a taste of mama’s cooking, others emulating the buzzy, everyday cafes that populate the continent.

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

It wasn’t too long ago when the cuisine du jour was something known as “Modern European”, a somewhat loosely defined term that encompasses everything from multi-course tweezer enabled degustations to dishes with any number of multicultural ingredients shoehorned onto a plate. There’s nothing wrong with innovation, but many long for simpler times, and the culinary powers-that-be have listened.


Native Burgundian Geoffrey Daurelle wants to give Singaporeans a taste of his hometown with his wine bar and restaurant Gaston – nothing new, given the amount of Burgundies quaffed on our shores. The food, though, is less commonly found. Clearly, there has to be boeuf bourguignon, and Daurelle presents an uncompromisingly rich stew based on his mother’s recipe. Other regional specialities include truite a l’aligote, a trout fish draped with a creamy sauce made with a reduction of aligote, an indigenous white grape from Burgundy. There are also clever little spins on what are otherwise classic dishes, with escargots that come in little pastry cups that dispel all notions of used shells being put through the dishwasher in the back. As for the wines, Daurelle – a trained sommelier – has amassed a collection that’s almost 350 labels strong and counting, with a focus on lesser-known producers and appellations that can hold their own against the big boys.

25 Keong Saik Road.

Gaston’s hearty boeuf bourguignon is made with a family recipe, and features tender beef in rich red wine sauce.
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Noted Fascist Benito Mussolini once tried to ban the Italian staple, citing that it caused weakness and laziness. The newly opened Pasta Bar fights this oppression with a menu of 11 different pastas, each made fresh daily with its own dough recipe. Helming the kitchen is the Genova-born Alessandro Giustetti, who presents a mix of regional variations and heirloom recipes: from Mama’s pasta al forno, with smoked mozzarella, eggplant and prosciutto, to tagliatelle with a 24-hour beef ragu that we’re sure rivals anything found in a Scorsese film. There is also a tight selection of wellthought-out antipasti and desserts: grilled, rosemary-scented lamb skewers called arrosticini originating from the Southern Italian region of Abruzzo, and Sicilian cannoli filled with sheep’s milk ricotta and chocolate chips. #01-05, 55 Keong Saik Road.


Each type of pasta at Pasta Bar is made with a different recipe, so that every dish can have the perfect shape, texture and flavour to pair with its sauce.


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Given its heritage, it’s only right that the Kempinski brand includes German cuisine in its first foray into Singapore. Two concepts sit side by side: Berthold Delikatessen, named for the brand’s founder, and restaurant Frieda, named for his daughter. Between the two there are Deutsche delicacies – salads, hearty sandwiches like rye sourdough with pastrami, and freshly baked German-style breads at the deli, as well as casual, intimate dining with comforting German-Austrian fare at the restaurant. Highlights include beef broth with hearty semolina dumplings and pancake; and Wiener schnitzel with cucumber salad, potatoes and dill. Desserts are also Teutonic treats – semolina pudding with sour cherry compote; crisp, fluffy bismark (also known as Dutch pancakes); and Viennese apple fritters, dusted with cinnamon sugar. The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore


Dumplings with beef broth are a common German comfort food, best eaten on cold day.