If you’ve stepped into the peaceful, lush — and yes, luxe — Dempsey Hills, then you’ve seen that cluster of high-end restaurants at Como Dempsey: the high-end Peranakan restaurant Candlenut, Como Cuisine, Ippoh Tempura Bar, and celeb chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s The Dempsey Cookhouse and Bar.
The four eateries, built on the space of former army barracks, share the space of a single building (it’s a large building) and has just been recently joined by a new concept: Culina.
It’s essentially a gourmet marketplace, bistro, and floral-forward boutique in one. The idea is that visitors can browse and buy from the gourmet goods on the market side, and sit down for a snack or longer meal on the bistro side. And, maybe after dessert’s finished, pick up some fancy flowers and coffee table books to take home.
The market is organized according to sections selling produce, dairy, premium meat and seafood, charcuterie, and baked goods.
In the Meat section, there’s beef, lamb, and veal sold in different cuts. Some of the brands include Black Onyx, Margaret River Fresh Angus Beef, and Westholme, all of which are known to raise cows and produce beef products in an ethical manner. In addition to this section, there’s also an array of dry-aged meats.
People seeking fresh seafood can stop by the Fish section, where sustainably caught marine animals are displayed for the picking. One of the highlights, we’re told, is House of Kaviari’s rope-hung and beech-wood smoked Norwegian salmon, a naturally sweet fish that’s enhanced by simple, natural flavors to excellent effect. Another product available is Rosso di Mazara’s red prawn elixir, called Message in the Bottle, a cooking ingredient which, according to the brand, is made from the umami-rich heads of red prawns sourced from the Mediterranean Sea.
A little further down, there’s the Dairy display of premium cheese and butter. We’re especially intrigued by Allèosse, a French creamery that uses 250+ raw milk varieties to create its extensive selection of heritage and gourmet cheeses, and Beillevaire, which makes premium yogurt and butter.
Then, there’s the Delicatessen. We’re told that this section includes many brands that are making their debut in Singapore — there’s homemade apple and cider pork sausages and pork rillettes from the Australian brand Romeo’s Fine Foods, and salami created from free-range meats made by Quattro Stelle, also an Aussie import.
In the Fresh & Seasonal Produce section, there’s a selection of fancy (read: pricey) fruits and vegetables, including several hard-to-find — in Singapore, at least — products such as white asparagus and wild strawberries from France. This area is complemented with a Dried Goods area, which includes pantry staples and bits-and-bobs like gourmet pastas, jams, dried fruits, and spices.
At the Bakery, there’s artisanal sourdough, baguette, ciabatta and croissants, plus sweet pastries and cakes.
Also making its Singapore debut in Culina is Grandiflora, a boutique floral shop that sells a selection of plants, fragrances, and books.
If you’re there to grub, then it’s Culina Bistro that you’ll want to turn to. The 160-seater dining space serves contemporary cuisine that places its emphasis on the quality of ingredients being used. There’s also an array of wines: from the Old World, the New — such as California, New Zealand, and Australia — plus natural and bio-dynamic wines sourced from all over the world.
As for what to expect in terms of pricing, we’re sure you get the idea that this is an “upmarket” kind of place. When we peeped the menu, appetizers ran from S$20-$32 each, for starters such as pan-fried crab cakes with avocado salad ($25), a charcuterie tasting plate ($28), and pan-seared foie gras with brioche, truffled jus and Port-roasted figs ($32).
Salads, sandwiches, and burgers range from $12-$26, with the exception of the Wagyu burger with pancetta, Emmental cheese, and a side of fries, which goes for $30. Pasta, risotto, and meat-based entrees range from $24-$42 each, for mains such as duck confit with balsamic-roasted radicchio and baby carrots plus potatoes pan-fried in duck fat ($36) and bouillabaisse with red snapper, Hokkaido clams, mussels, and scampi served with rouille and grilled baguette pieces ($42).
Culina is at COMO Dempsey, Block 15 Dempsey Rd.
Open daily 11am to 11pm. Bistro hours: May-June daily 11am-3pm, 6pm-11pm; July onwards daily 11am-11pm.