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83 Fairfax Road
There’s serious skill coming from the ambitious kitchen at Singapore Garden, which has a repertoire that goes way beyond the usual Anglo-Cantonese staples. Sure, you’ll be treated to well-wrought
renditions of all the favourites – from sticky glazed spare ribs to chicken with cashew nuts – but there’s a lot more waiting to be discovered. Hainanese chicken is a softly steamed bird in a light
soy broth, & Teochew braised pig’s trotters get a subtle kick from star anise & five spice. Singapore & Malay specialities include the likes of deeply fragrant laksa soup, Assam curried
monkfish & fried kway tiow (that time-honoured fried noodle dish sold by Singaporean street hawkers). Don’t bank on street-food prices, though. The bill, like the classy modern surroundings,
will be upmarket, & the occasionally hit-&-miss service does little to soften the blow.
83 Fairfax Road
Finchley Road Station 283m
Swiss Cottage Tube Station 287m
Odeon Cinema Swiss Cottage 368m
Hampstead Theatre 465m
Mon-Sun 12N-3pm (Sun -5pm) 6-11pm (Fri-Sat -11.30pm)
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 3
For any neighbourhood restaurant to be fairly full on a Monday must be a good sign. This was the case when a comrade and I recently visited the well-established Singapore Garden in Swiss Cottage. After a refurb a few years’ ago, the spacious venue seemed and felt much like the country after which it is named: modern and efficient, even if somewhat lacking in atmosphere. With Singapore itself celebrating its 50th anniversary as an independent country, we also did wonder what may actually constitute ‘Singaporean’ cuisine. Having eaten here and also perused the exceptionally extensive menu, it is probably reasonably hard to define, although a fair summary would be to describe it as an amalgam of south-east Asian flavours and dishes, owing a considerable debt to Malaysia, Thailand and China. We almost suffered from a tyranny of choice given the range of options, combined with a waiter that seemed slightly too keen to take our order quickly. Nonetheless, we opted for two starters to share followed by two mains and a vegetable side. Across the board, portion sizes were on the generous-side, and while some dishes undoubtedly excelled, others were more pedestrian. Our duck pancake starter, for example, lacked in flavour and was somewhat chewy. On the flipside, we were highly impressed with our lightly battered salt, pepper and chilli squid. The spicy aubergines in yellow bean sauce were also wonderful and we could easily have eaten more. It is hard to know, of course, whether these dishes necessarily showed the restaurant at its best, but there is certainly evidence of some talent and potential in the kitchen. The one caveat would be price. For what you experience (a lot posher than Chinatown, but certainly far from high-end Asian dining experiences in London), it is not especially good value. We also just stuck to beer for drinks, but did note that the wine list (beyond the house options) came in on the pricier side. In summary, Singapore Garden is a good restaurant, but not a great one.
Food + drink: 2
Myself and my husband visited Singapore Garden for a quick pre theatre bite to eat on a Friday evening. When the bill came, as is becoming customary, a 12.5% service charge had been added automatically. We paid by credit card and I asked for the charge to be taken off the bill. Our plan was to leave 10% in cash – an amount we thought more reflective of the average service and also in the hope that a cash tip would actually make it to the pocket of the waiters.
The manager was called over and she proceeded to tell us in no uncertain terms how disgraceful it was that we weren't going to pay the charge as the money went to pay the waiters' wages and that if we weren't prepared to pay the service charge she suggested that we eat at home in the future!!! We were totally gobsmacked!! So rude!! Anybody would have thought we were refusing to pay the whole bill, not a discretionary payment!! A very embarrassing situation especially as all of the tables in the restaurant are very close together (uncomfortably so if you ask me).
Needless to say we left without leaving any tip at all and as we passed the manager at the front desk she muttered ‘disgusting’ under her breath – great customer service!!
All in all a distressing experience which left us with a very sour taste in our mouth. Anyone eating here can expect ok food but very overpriced. Make sure you pay the tip in cash as it seems to me that there is some dodgy practice going on with the service charge.
Singapore Garden is in a slightly offbeat location near Swiss Cottage and i doubt most would know about it unless locals. I decided to go as it had got a Squaremeal 1 star and was looking forward in anticipation to my meal.
The venue itself has been refurbished nicely, very opulent inside and a decent amount of tables. Id completely recommend booking as it was packed on a Saturday night – book for 8pm so you dont get shooed away due to their 2 hour table turnaround!
We ordered most of the starters – very tasty but nothing new to me – standard spring rolls, duck etc. Mains had a good range of pork, fish, lamb with an additional summer menu where you could choose from lobster or variations of crab. These looked very interesting and gave the place a slight edge over the normal oriental places we go to. There were a distinct lack of veggie options though which was quite disappointing.. Desserts looked unappealing – variations of deep fried fruit so we passed. Overall came to £30 per head with no dessert.
Service was ok but all in all, this is a good place to have a catch up with friends (with slightly more money than poor students) and have a classy night out in Swiss Cottage. For better oriental food, id recommend going into town to places like Haozhan (my favourite in Chinatown), Yautcha or Hakkasan, expensive but worth it!
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