While I no longer live in Singapore, I do get there about 6-8 times a year. There are so many cool and new restaurants that have opened in the last year, I find it hard to keep up. Every time I go, I am torn between old favourites and newcomers. But being a foodie, I ultimately cannot resist the lure of something new….possibly better. And I think on this trip, I have found a new favourite – Catalunya at Fullerton Bay – right next door to an old favourite, the Lantern Bar at Fullerton Bay Hotel. To my mind, together they are the perfect combo for a waterfront Singapore night out.
When I was living in Singapore, the Lantern Bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel was a very glam spot to have a drink or meet friends. It was also my go to place to take visitors given the impossibly luxurious infinity pool in the foreground and the dramatic city view of Marina Bay and the Marina Bay Sands Hotel in the background. They have an endless list of classic cocktails – I like the Moscow Mule or the Pisco Sour. And also, some amazing snacks like their truffle fries.
But mainly, it’s all about the view – the picturesque cityscape as well as the abundant people watching. It’s one of Singapore’s most glamorous scenes so prepare for a parade of Louboutin’s and LV bags. That said, I can turn up in casual attire like sandals and a sundress and feel equally at home, so don’t feel like you have to be totally glammed up just to have a drink. While I think the nighttime view is the most dramatic, it’s also quite stunning for an afternoon cocktail.
What I like to do is go for a cocktail around 7pm and see the sunset. And then on this particular evening, I head over to Catalunya, a wonderful new Spanish tapas restaurant just on the other side of the Fullerton Bay Hotel. In typical Spanish style, I make my booking a bit later, say 9pm. That way you get the best of both worlds – a cocktail in the tropical setting of Singapore and then a feeling that you have jetted to Barcelona for a late night dinner. (OK, so I know 9pm is still early for the Spanish, so I am taking slight concessions here.)
Catalunya, is all about classic Catalan cooking and tapas. Chef Alain Devahive Tolosa is at the helm and brings the best of Spanish cooking to Singapore, having spent a decade in the kitchens at elBulli Restaurant and elBulli Catering. The restaurant manager is also an alumni of elBulli (12 years) and the mixologist comes from the venerated Eclipse Bar at the W Hotel, Barcelona. So you know you are in for a thoroughly authentic Catalan dining experience.
While we went for dinner, after having drinks at the Lantern Bar, after seeing the Catalunya bar and the tapas bar menu, I might just come here one evening for just for tapas and cocktails at the bar. It’s got a rather cozy, intimate feeling with a sexy edge as a result of the nooks and crannies for seating and the orangey-red light emanating from the bar umbrella lighting.
But tonight, it was all about the dinner feast. And apparently, the signature dish at Catalunya is the Roast Sucking Pig. I can say with confidence after tasting, I can fully vouch for the menu’s recommendation. How to describe without sounding like an advertisement? Well, it was everything you would expect a perfect roast pig to be – juicy and tender on the outside with the skin crisped to almost a crackling state. And I personally love the rustic presentation on a cutting board, makes it feel as if it is fresh from a Barcelona mama’s kitchen.
We also tried some tapas including the Calamari, which I have to admit was too chewy. It was entirely average, so I would recommend perhaps skipping this and going with some of the other more unique tapas offerings.
But, the Croquettas de Jamon were stunning. I personally think one can judge the quality of a restaurant on the more simple items and the level of perfection in which those are executed. Ham croquettes are an exceedingly common Spanish tapas dish, but like anything else…there are amazing ones and average ones. At Catalunya these are truly amazing and not to be missed.
Next up was the Lobster Rice – a take on paella, except with grilled lobster on top (not pictured). I think we were a bit stuffed at this point, but that said, we managed to polish off the grilled lobster with ease. It was juicy and tender and easy to eat thanks to pre-cracked shells. And the rice mixture was a wonderful complement with the flavours of the briny sea as well as new and complementary spices coming in to elevate the dish overall.
I was also impressed with the wine list. It’s not always the case that one can find a wine list that has a good representation of the best that Spainish wine has to offer. More often than not, it’s the more bulk affordable Spanish wines that populate the lower end price range of many wine lists. So I was happy to see for the first time in Singapore a truly proper Spanish wine list with everything from young Torrontes to aged Crianza’s, Reserva’s and Gran Reserva’s.
So if you live in Singapore or are just visiting, I do highly recommend an evening in the Fullerton Bay area. Between Lantern Bar at the Fullerton Bay Hotel and Catalunya, it’s truly a destination zone for charming cocktails and world class Spanish fare.
Fullerton Bay Hotel
80 Collyer Quay Singapore 049326
Telephone: +65 6333 8388
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay Singapore 049327
General enquiries: +65 6534 0188
Reservations: +65 6534 0886