Once homes to the upper echelons of Singapore society and the British government, the cluster of colonial bungalows at Rochester Park has since been transformed into conservation buildings, housing a myriad of dining options bounded by lush greenery. And thanks to the nature of the heritage site, the buildings have retained most of their old-world charm, even on the inside; dining at many of these venues feels like eating at someone's residence.
We pick five F&B favourites that best encapsulate the charm of Rochester Park with the triple whammy of relaxed dining, great food and tranquil surroundings.
Da Paolo Bistro Bar
Originally intended as more of a bar than a full-fledged restaurant, Da Paolo has since allocated more space for dining. Today, the Da Paolo Bistro Bar has our vote for best location out of all its Da Paolo branches (though you'd probably get higher quality fare over at its Cluny Court outlet).
While you're there make sure to try the antipasti misti, a selection of Italian starters (S$24), tagliatelle al granchio -- homemade egg pasta with crabmeat tomatoes, cream and vodka (S$26) -- and taglioini con aragostine homemade egg pasta with crayfish, garlic, cherry tomatoes, white wine and herbs (S$27).
Guests can opt to dine in air-conditioned comfort in the main building, or brave the humidity and enjoy dinner admist the greenery and in the glow of the soft lights of the al fresco area. Try and sit outside if you can, it'll be worth it.
Da Paolo Bistro Bar, 3 Rochester Park, +65 6774 5537
Fusion cuisine does not always work -- we've seen our fair share of restaurants that fail to grasp the intricacies of the cultures and cuisines involved, resulting in a confused mess -- but Krish has managed to fuse the tricky Indian flavours and spices with the precision of European cooking methodology, and make it work. They call it, "New Indian" cuisine.
Thanks to the tenancity of owner Nikhil Krishnan, who continuously experiments with ingredients to come up with novel offerings, diners can look forward to a whole new menu approximately every six months.
Our current favourites include the generously-stuffed Maryland crab cakes (S$16) and stuffed tofu crespelle with pickled lemon tomato sauce (S$16), a modern take on the masala dosai -- it actually makes us sad that they would be gone by next year.
Krish, 9 Rochester Park, +65 6779 4644
Check out also our full review of Krish's brand-new menu.
If you're tired of your run-of-the-mill Japanese food chains but not quite willing to fork out a tidy sum for something like Waku Ghin, the newest addition to Rochester Park, B@Rochester, finds the perfect balance with its affordable modern Japanese cuisine in a modern chic environment -- after all, they want "customers to ‘BE’ at Rochester and be cosy at home here," explains executive director Chris Chen.
The restaurant's executive chef Joseph Chee offers modern Japanese cuisine including incredibly fresh sashimi (the tuna belly in particular, topped off with cheese cubes, is heavenly) and signature dishes such as Australian lamb with homemade black pepper sauce.
B@Rochester is also in the midst of coming up with a complete cocktail list, but for now, its Seaweed Sake martini is a surprisingly potent and sweet concoction with just a hint of briny seaweed.
B@Rochester, 8 Rochester Park, +65 6778 1788
Don't be in a hurry to finish your food when you dine at Graze; no waiters here are going to be standing by, trying to get you to move along in a not-quite-subtle manner. In fact, the management encourages diner to savour their food at a leisurely pace and enjoy the lush surroundings, fully embodying its establishment's name.
Like its sister outlet at Martin Road, Graze at Rochester's breezy, laidback vibe and modern chic interior remind us very much of the trendy cafes in Australia.
The cuisine here is Australian at its finest, a combination of fresh ingredients and exciting flavours, with just a touch of Asian influence. Favourites include the crispy hand-rolled pork hock (S$34) and pan roasted Barramundi on organic pumpkin ravioli with chili plum salsa and basil oil (S$33). Graze also serves a pretty extensive brunch menu, perfect for lazing the weekend away.
Graze, 4 Rochester Park, +65 6775 9000
A Chinese restaurant housed in a colonial bungalow may sound like a strange juxtaposition of sorts, but there's no denying the elegant charm of enjoying authentic Sichuan and Cantonese cuisine in the lush surroundings of Rochester Park, played up by the chinois chic interior of the bungalow.
Opened after the runaway success of the pioneering restaurant at Goodwood Park Hotel, Min Jiang at One-North offers the same award-winning dishes with a few surprises up its sleeves, such as the wood-fired crispy Beijing duck (S$45++ for half bird; S$90++ for whole bird), served in three different ways to diners.
Do not miss other favourites like the famed lobster noodles (S$20++ per person), hot and sour soup (S$10++ per person) as well as Master Chef Goh Chee Kong's signature appetiser platter, a stunning presentation of chicken, lobster, eel and scallops (S$23++ per person).
Min Jiang@One-North, 5 Rochester Park, +65 6774 0122