A restaurant making it to its first year anniversary in the current culinary climate in Singapore is an impressive feat these days -- word out on the street is that there were 300 hundred new restaurant openings in 2012 alone (we can't verify that, but we're not surprised). Couple this with a population of jaded ADD-ridden foodies, the city's not quite the hospitable environment it used to be for budding or seasoned restaurateurs. So when a restaurant defies the odds and makes it past a reasonable amount of time without much trials or tribulations, it's call for much cheer.
What's new: Or in the case of Australian brasserie Salt Grill & Sky Bar, it's an opportunity for the launch of not one, not two, but five new different menus -- a Brunch menu available on weekends and public holidays, a one-course Express Lunch menu, a two-course Executive Lunch, a Prix Fixe dinner menu, and a selection of Happy Hour and tapas offerings -- as a way to mark the restaurant's second year in business. New on board at Salt Grill too, is executive chef Tom Wells to helm the kitchens; chef Wells is, of course, no stranger to the Luke Mangan' Salt brand, having cut his teeth at many of his global establishments, most recent of which was Salt Tapas at Raffles City.
For something with a little more kick for brunch, go for the fiesty chorizo sausage with corn fritters.
Must-try: We were most excited for the debut of the brunch menu (from S$18, with a complimentary glass of Bloody Mary) -- Salt Grill's sky-high spot and sun-drenched dining area is the sort of you place you'd envision nursing a Mimosa and eggs benedict on a self-indulgent Sunday afternoon -- and the Mod-Oz menu soundly delivers with a mix of usual brunch suspects (the ever-popular Salmon gravlax, scrambled eggs with truffle oil, semi dried tomatoes) and lesser-seen creations (like a savoury and sweet dish of wild mushrooms on toasted brioche topped off with crème fraiche). A delightfully fiesty chargrilled Chorizo sausage supported by sweet corn fritters is all crunch and spice -- a personal favourite and must-order.
Lunch options are plentiful too, and with the new Express Lunch menu (one course from S$25, and promising to send you back on your merry way in just 45 minutes), your precious hour can be one spent "soaking in the breathtaking view of the city skyline from the restaurant’s spectacular location". Skip the generic beef burger and opt for instead the fresh Mediterranean-inspired char grilled tuna nicoise, or the surprisingly light pumpkin risotto in curry dressing, accented by goat's feta.
Lunch menu highlights include (L to R): chargrilled tuna nicoise, pumpkin risotto, as well as snapper with char siu mushrooms.
But of course, if time isn't an issue (as it seems to be the case for most of Salt Grill's well-dressed clientele), the two-course Executive Lunch (from S$40) is great value for money. A fig tart is a splendid balance of sweet and piquant with the caramelized onion and blue cheese, an intriguing starter that paves the way for more substantial mains like a perfectly-cooked Maori Lakes beef tenderloin with pumpkin puree (could do with more seasoning though), and an Asian-influenced snapper with char siu mushrooms and bak choy. The latter comes laced in a zesty sweet chilli lemongrass sauce and is a great example of Salt's modern Aussie (read: Australian with Asian touches) sensibilities.
As the sunset throws Salt Grill into a more romantic shade of dusky rose, that's your cue to order an aperitif from the Sky Bar, before sitting down for dinner with the Prix Fixe dinner menu (S$50) -- choose from a selection of tapas starters and mains, before ending with a dessert of the day (order the trio of luscious chocolate treats) and coffee or tea.
Verdict: Less than a month on board at Salt Grill, and chef Wells has already eased into his new shoes rather comfortably. We've never been quite taken by the food at Salt Tapas, but he might just have found his footing at Salt Grill. Plating of dishes is also impressive, further enhanced by all that glorious natural lighting.
Salt Grill & Sky Bar, Level 55 and 56, ION Sky, +65 6592 5118