With healthy, plant-based cafes blossoming thick and fast across Singapore, yet another clean-eating concept barely makes a noise in this forest anymore. But while wholesome wraps and bowls are par for the course, it’s a rare cafe which serves up its veggies whole – smoked tofu slabs, cauliflower roasts, an eggplant with passing resemblance to a good-sized steak. Cue: The Garden Club, which pulls off just this with a remarkable combination of flair and flavour.
The Garden Club plants its roots atop OUE Downtown Gallery, a breezy CBD escape with indoor and outdoor seating. The inside is all colourful hanging lanterns and tables in cheery primary hues, with a quick-serve counter where you can build your own meat- or plant-based bowls. Outside, there’s a herb garden whose harvest sneaks its way onto your plate, plus a bar with regular live music and botanical-themed cocktails. Who says you can’t party yet nosh healthily?
The plant-centric cuisine is just as colourful as the decor, a rainbow of fruits and veggies with a handful of meat options. We ease into things with a comfort dish – the Garden Ragu Fettucine (S$15), a popular item available on both the lunch and dinner menus.
This dish offers a meatless take on ragu sauce, here made in-house with Beyond Meat. Poured generously over the perfectly al dente pasta, it produces a rich, textured dish that would please the staunchest meat lover. Another vegan-friendly indulgence is the Beyond Meat Cheeseburger and Fries (S$26), dripping with plant-based cheddar and soy mayo.
The bland cauliflower transforms into a surprising delight with the Cauliflower Bouquet Roast (S$10), a hunk of whole roasted cauliflower slathered in garlic miso sauce and confit leek. We know, we know – a whole mass of cauliflower doesn’t sound the most appetising, but this one is caramelised to a buttery, tender sweetness that astounds. We could even have done with less of the piquant miso sauce, to let more of the cauliflower’s mellow flavours shine through.
By now we’re acquainted with The Garden Club’s penchant for whole veggies, but the Eggplant Pesto Grill (S$12) still takes us by surprise. An enormous aubergine steak nestles on Japanese purple sweet potato mash, with zesty cherry tomatoes and earthy green pesto completing this eye-popping colour palette. The eggplant juices run as we slice into it, and its pulp is refreshingly tangy thanks to the pesto (house-made with fresh goodness from the edible garden).
For a light meat dish to complement your greens, the Grilled Barramundi (S$20) is a good bet. Set on a chewy bed of grapes, quinoa, and barley, this moist fish falls apart beautifully on the tongue. The crackly grilled skin makes a succulent treat, and it’s even more delicious with a dollop of sweet tofu puree.
Even if you’ve got work the next day, linger by the bar area to wash it all down with the signature Rasa Sayang (S$16), a fruity white wine number infused with lychee and dry rose buds. For healthy grub, boozy fun, and some sunset views, we reckon there’s no better CBD spot to bring it all together.
The Garden Club is located at OUE Downtown Gallery, #05-01, 6A Shenton Way, Singapore 068815, p. +65 6971 8265. Open Mon-Fri 10am – 12am.