In a city packed with eat streets, hip Duxton Hill is emerging a firm favorite with Singaporean diners, thanks to its well preserved shop houses, paved streets, laidback vibe plus central location smack bang between the Central Business District and Chinatown. "I like places with an interesting history," says French businessman Olivier Bendel, referring to the district's storied past as slum peppered with opium dens and brothels. "It was love at first sight." In fact, Bendel loved the area so much he opened three outlets there (L'entrecôte, Sabio and Le Petit Cancale), launching Duxton Hill's emergence as a dining destination. Other restaurateurs have now joined him. Here's a selection of what's on offer.
L'entrecôte This Parisian-inspired steak and frites joint is set in a minimally embellished shop house where the focus is rightly on the food, not the décor. Kick off with the homemade duck foie gras terrine then go for the entrecôte doused in a mustard-accented "secret sauce," served with all-you-can-eat fries. Tel: (65) 6238-5700; 36 Duxton Hill.
Buyan offers designer Russian dining in a triple-tiered space. Tuck into wallet denting haute fare like caviar and blinis in the fine dining salon on level two, or simply fill up with a bowl of heartwarming Georgian lamb soup at the casual diner perched on the top floor. Tel: (65) 6223-7008; 10 Duxton Hill.
Wok & Barrel Self-taught chef Shen Tan showcases her inventive ways with local flavors at this fusion diner. Beef rendang blanketed with melted cheese crowns a 36-hour, slow fermented pizza crust, while bak chor mee (minced pork noodles, a popular local streetfood) is re-imagined as tagliatelle tossed with a prawn shell-perfumed sauce topped with shreds of roast pork confit. Tel: (65) 6220-0595; 13 Duxton Hill.
81 Duxton The menu at this newly minted restaurant at the Berjaya Hotel features European accents like vegetable parfait and charcuterie platter, but the piece de resistance is the Ozaki wagyu steak 200g of fork tender beef served alongside hand-cut fries and a soup of the day. Tel: (65) 6238-5681; 83 Duxton Road.
Sabio A charming tapas joint. The Anis Del Mono tiled mural serves as the perfect backdrop for grazing on delectable small plates like marinated red capsicum and shrimp-stuffed squid basking in a savory black ink sauce. Tel: (65) 6223-4645; 5 Duxton Hill.
Latteria Mozzarella Bar This Italian restaurant offers a cheese-centric menu teeming with ten varieties of Italian mozzarella. Don't miss the creamy burrata on a bed of sweet peppers, or the deep-fried bocconcini basking in a spicy tomato broth. Tel: (65) 6866-1988; 40 Duxton Hill.
Le Petit Cancale Taking inspiration from Cancale, the oyster capital of Brittany, this seafood haven offers freshly shucked French bivalves like fine de Claire and Tsarskaya, and also serves up one of Singapore's most authentic plates of fruits de mer think Brittany langoustines, crabs, clams and whelks. Tel: (65) 6238-5549; 37 Duxton Hill.