On the fifth floor of OUE Downtown Gallery, the Tanjong Pagar building that houses fancy shops, gyms, eateries, and even a communal cooking kitchen, The Garden Club is a little oasis in the middle of the busy CBD. With a small indoor seating area by the open kitchen and an alfresco space housing a bar, a tiny stage, and parcels of greenery, the restaurant almost lets you forget you’re still just within walking distance from your office.
By day, it’s a casual concept with “quick serve” dishes that are basically build-your-own protein bowls. Then, at nightfall, it’s a chill rooftop escape central enough for evening drinks with your colleagues, yet (mostly) hidden from the surrounding concrete structures so your mind doesn’t wander back to work.
Veering towards healthy eats, the menu aims to provide more thoughtful options for those on a plant-based diet. So instead of your standard salads and sandwiches, the tasty DIY bowls, which start from $9, include items like roasted cauliflower, zucchini, mushrooms, and tempeh with tofu.
It’s rather handy for the next time you feel like switching it up beyond The Daily Cut, Omnivore, or any of the countless similar brands around the area.
At lunch, you can go light with smoothie bowls ($10) consisting of dragonfruit, blueberries, bananas, watermelon, and toasted oats, or try the quinoa porridge with grilled butternut ($12). More veg offerings come in the form of the barley mushroom risotto ($12), and even the pasta and burger aren’t exactly what they seem to be.
Instead of using Impossible Foods for its plant-based meat products, the restaurant opts for Beyond Meat in its cheese burger ($26) and fettuccine ($15). Still, we barely notice the absence of actual animals in our dishes.
For dinner, you can start with grilled broccolini ($9), fried brussels sprouts ($9), or smoked baby corn ($8), before moving on to pesto grilled eggplant ($12) and roast cauliflower with garlic miso sauce ($10). But we’d suggest you load up on appetizers if you’re going for the veggie mains.
As an example, the smoked tofu ($14), while flavorful with a nice mix of textures, consists merely of two rectangle slabs topped with tempura cracklings and caramelized fennel, which probably won’t fill you up unless you’re a light eater.
Heartier, meaty dishes are available too, such as the miso chicken breast ($17), beef cheek with roasted potato chips ($23), and grilled sea bass ($20), a plate of fork tender fish on a bed of tabbouleh made creamy with sesame tofu purée.
For dessert, the apple rosette tart ($8) is a light, lovely choice of petal-shaped apple slices baked with apple gel on a pleasantly crumbly cookie shell. You might wanna have one to yourself, or order it alongside the clove and cinnamon ice cream ($8) served with kumquat and candied walnuts to share.
If you’re in the mood to linger, the outdoor terrace hosts regular live bands playing acoustic renditions of pop tunes.
Its rattan furniture pieces, wooden fixtures, and urban garden patches (the greens grown here are used mostly for garnishing dishes) contribute to that breezy feel of the place, and you can nibble on bar snacks like fried polenta with caramelized onions ($6), fried curry okra ($5), or broccoli tempura with gochujang mayo ($6) while you’re there.
From the bar, the boozy concoctions include Rasa Sayang ($16), a blend of white wine, lychee, lemon soda, and a sprinkling of dry rose buds, and Kensington Cooler ($16), a tea cup filled with gin, Earl Grey, honey, lemon juice, and lavender buds. However, they’re not the most potent of drinks, so you may or may not feel like you’re sipping on sugary mixes without much of a kick.
Oh, and take note that The Garden Club only opens from Mondays to Fridays (not that you’d be eager to hang out in the CBD on weekends, anyway).
The Garden Club opens on Aug 27, with an official launch on Sept 2, at #05-01 OUE Downtown Gallery, 6A Shenton Way.
Reception: 6971-8265; Bar: 6971-8266.
Open Mon-Fri: Grab & go 9am-4pm, Quick serve 11am-3pm, Lunch noon-2:30pm, Dinner 5:30pm-10:30pm, Bar 5pm-midnight.
MRT: Tanjong Pagar