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Multi-concept draw (Amended)
The great outdoors
Wisma Atria Level 3
PICNICKERS no longer need to put up with the heat or potential swarm of ants ruining their food once Cheng Hsin Yao launches Picnic.
The 31-year-old director of Omakase Burger will transform the 10,000 square foot space on the third floor of Wisma Atria Shopping Mall into what he calls an "immersive outdoor experience".
"If you have dined outdoors before you know it can be very enjoyable, especially when it's an autumn or spring day in Europe or US. We wanted to recreate that experience here and bring that to Singapore," says Mr Cheng.
At Picnic, diners can choose from nine different "hot food" stalls with cuisines such as Korean, Japanese, Italian and French; as well as four "cold" stalls selling desserts, cocktails, pastries, and coffee or drinks.
There will be large tables to encourage "communal dining" for about 270 pax; and to complete the picnic atmosphere, Mr Cheng says that 2,000 light bulbs and indoor landscaping will help recreate the ambience of an outdoor dining experience.
He also notes that the dynamics of group dining can be slightly unusual: " As long as one person in the group of 20 doesn't eat what you sell, you could lose the whole group . . . That's why we decided to give them a range of cuisines to choose from."
Mr Cheng adds that the menu will be about 40 per cent classic dishes such as a Japanese butadon (pork rice bowl), while the rest will be contemporary dishes such as Japanese-Italian mentaiko pasta. Price per head will average from S$20-$30 inclusive of a drink.
"It's tremendously different to run a speciality restaurant like Omakase Burger and a multi-faceted one like Picnic. (Omakase) is very focused on making the best version of one dish, whereas for Picnic you have to think of variety, flexibility . . . I need to make sure each stall doesn't cannibalise the other," says Mr Cheng.
He adds that a concept such as Picnic allows the group to be flexible with what they offer, which means it could potentially be customised to work in a different country or part of Singapore.
"Taste and trends change, things come into fashion and fall out of fashion, so Picnic is built in such a way that we can make (cuisine switches as quickly as under a week). It could also be used as a low-cost, low-risk way of incubating (new) concepts," he says.
Amendment Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Picnic serves 40 per cent classic Japanese dishes. It in fact serves 40 per cent classic dishes, including the Japanese butadon. The article above has been revised to reflect this.
Venturing beyond food
Millenia Walk, #01-79/80
Open Mon to Sun, 11.30am to 10.30pm
AS Singaporeans become more health-conscious over the years, it's no surprise that restaurants promising tasty and nourishing food sprout up to meet that need.
One of them is the month-old Plentyfull at Millenia Walk, owned by Claudia Sondakh who used to be in the fashion industry.
She also co-owned the multi-label boutique Retail Therapy and co-founded the luxury resale business Robe Raiders.
"I decided it was finally time to explore my love for food when Robe Raiders merged with The Fifth Collection, and I had time on my hands. At the same time, I was challenged by a friend to start a business that makes a difference in the community, so the concept of Plentyfull - which goes beyond food - was born," explains Ms Sondakh.
The inspiration came a few years ago, when she saw a homeopath (someone who specialises in an alternative form of natural healthcare) for her chronic sinusitis and fatigue.
That, along with her husband's gluten and dairy intolerance, made her "all the more determined to create a concept that serves as an option for people to eat well without compromising on taste". Hence, Plentyfull, a 132-seater eatery that includes a gourmet grocer - in collaboration with Australian grocer Little Farms, a patisserie, a bakery, and a dual-concept restaurant - was born.
According to Ms Sondakh, the food will "showcase global cuisine mapped by the team's travels and heritage".
In the day, the restaurant offers what they call a "market table luncheon spread", where diners can choose to customise their own set meals from a selection of bases such as broken wheat with laurel leaves, proteins such as Thai roasted chicken with garlic and cilantro, and sides such as maple and bacon brussel sprouts (S$17+ and up).
For dinner, Plentyfull functions as a full-service modern brasserie serving up dishes such as the smoked lamb merguez sausage (S$26++), miso gratinated aubergine (S$16++) and house-smoked mussels on toast (S$24++).
Although the dishes are prepared by their in-house head chef Victor Loy, Ms Sondakh knows her way in the kitchen as well. In 2014, she did a 11/2-year internship at Capella Singapore, where she worked in all the kitchen departments from the hot kitchen and banquet to pastry.
"I wanted to gain a better understanding of and genuine feel for the industry," she says.
On her new venture, Ms Sondakh says: "I wanted to go all out to create something that is close to my heart and my beliefs, to remind people of why the first restaurant in history was created - to bring nourishment and refreshment to the weary."
41 Robertson Quay, #01-01
Open 7am to 11pm daily
WHEN you're running a business, it makes sense to have the economies of scale. So, it's no wonder that the folks behind SPRMRKT - a local lifestyle concept dabbling in food, art, as well as retail - have launched another outlet called SPRMRKT Daily at Robertson Quay.
This new 40-seat outlet is located on the first floor of the Singapore Tyler Print Institute (STPI) building, and features a grocery store, a retail space, as well as a riverside cafe.
The existing SPRMRKT Kitchen and Bar is on the second floor.
"Running a multi-concept space is like having three businesses that you have to look after. You have to make sure the restaurant runs well, the retail is stocked, and there's a good calendar of activities; plus the different business concepts must integrate," says owner Quek Sue-Shan.
She adds that while some elements from their other outlet at McCallum Street have been brought over to SPRMRKT Daily, new ones have been introduced as well. For instance, SPRMRKT Daily will feature artisanal memorabilia from regional brands as well as homegrown ones such as Supermama and BooksActually.
Explains Ms Quek: "We noticed that because of the area and being at STPI, we're on tourist maps and would attract visitors who are looking for something cultural to do in Singapore, so we decided to carry brands (with unique souvenirs) that would be different from what you'd get at the airport."
Another new element that SPRMRKT Daily will have is a section focused on wines from their wine partner Analogue Wine Merchant. There will even be a sommelier on-site to tend to customers' queries.
Foodwise, SPRMRKT Daily's fixed menu will feature hearty cafe fare such as grilled Atlantic salmon with housemade citrus hollandaise, roasted baby potatoes and sauteed baby spinach (S$24), and twice-cooked baby back ribs with chilli, shallots and a caramelised bean sauce with slaw and fries (S$22).
"When we first started SPRMRKT, my business partner Joseph and I wanted to combine our interests - for him it was food, for me it was arts. So we wanted to combine that within a space and create a meaningful ecosystem," says Ms Quek.
She adds: "We'd like to grow the brand, and although now we're focusing on our existing outlets, we're always looking to include more interesting sections for our customers to come and discover something new."