The 68-footer luxury catamaran Eagle Wings (above and below) can hold up to 40 people for a dinner.
SUN, SEA AND FOOD
Eagle Wings Yacht CharterZ
If the rate of new restaurant openings in Singapore isn't fast enough for you, and you're looking for a change of scenery, why not tap into experiential dining instead? A salty sea breeze and endless expanse of water might be just the thing to reignite your passion for dining out.
Co-owners Julian and Lisa Theng decided to purchase 68-footer luxury catamaran Eagle Wings after visiting the Singapore Yacht Show 2015. The siblings had always enjoyed the water and instead of chartering yachts regularly, decided to go all in.
"With such a big extended family who all love the sea – I have three siblings and eight nieces and nephews – it made sense to buy something that we could customise to suit our tastes," says Ms Theng, a managing partner at law firm Colin Ng & Partners.
For her 84-year-old father, Ms Theng equipped the catamaran with a chairlift. To facilitate their hobbies, Eagle Wings has a karaoke system, a mahjong table, and even a piano on board.
With the duo leading such busy lives, it was a no-brainer to charter out Eagle Wings for others to enjoy instead of keeping it in berth.
She explains: "My brother's an eye doctor, and we both work full-time, so we want the boat to be used more than just a couple of weekends a month." The cost of maintaining a catamaran like Eagle Wings, which is docked at the One Degree 15 Marina Club, can be up to S$60,000 a month.
The five-bedroom sailboat can hold up to 40 people for a dinner charter at a rate of about S$4,200, but also offers a multitude of other options such as a full-day charter for smaller groups.
The five-bedroom sailboat also has a karaoke system, a mahjong table, and even a piano on board.
It also comes with a full crew of seven, comprising two captains, two chefs, and three crew members. Ms Theng, 49, says: "We could have cut costs by just hiring freelancers to crew for us, but it's important to maintain a level of quality. This way, our crew is familiar with the craft and its various gadgets, and we're assured that they can handle any situation thrown at them."
Chefs Aron Ho and Lance Lai, who both have degrees in culinary arts management from the Culinary Institute of America, can prepare a seven-course degustation menu for dinner which includes Seared Scallops with Quail Egg, Lobster Linguine with Butter Herb Sauce and Panna Cotta with Berries and Chocolate Cake. Ms Theng says: "The best part of having private chefs is the flexibility. We had people over for dinner to the boat the other night, and one of our guests turned out to be a vegetarian. But it wasn't an issue because our chefs were so comfortable and knew exactly how to accommodate them. I think it might have fazed someone who'd been hired just for the event."
The Music Salon
49 Niven Rd
The two floors can hold a maximum of 80 people, but most gatherings consist of just 20 people on the ground floor (below).
Fancy a dinner party with a homey setting and maybe some music as entertainment? Ethan Seow's two-storey Peranakan shophouse just might be the place for you. His cosy space is named The Music Salon, which he set up last year with the aim of creating a space for musicians and music-lovers to meet and mingle.
On some days, Mr Seow and his business partner Elise Shen use the space to conduct music classes – not the one-on-one lessons that most of us are familiar with, but what he calls "story-based music-loving sessions", which take audiences through the development of music through history.
It was only after a few months of conducting these classes that the pair realised there was a high demand for an intimate setting like theirs, not just among music-lovers but other communities as well. So last October, they started listing the venue on event-booking sites such as Venuerific, and have hosted almost 100 private events since then.
"We originally called it The Music Salon, but it's slowly evolving into becoming just The Salon," says Mr Seow, who has been taking private music lessons since he was four years old. "We don't just cater to music-lovers anymore, we're very into building communities and bringing people together through great conversation."
Some of their clients have included intimate birthday parties, wine appreciation dinners, groups of old friends catching up, or even small corporate discussions or meetings. Booking The Music Salon starts at S$600.
The two floors can hold a maximum of 80 people, but most gatherings consist of just 20 people on the ground floor. And of course, since it was originally intended for music-related events, The Music Salon comes equipped with a sound system, and houses a number of musical instruments such as a piano and guitar – all available for rent upon request.
According to Mr Seow, he is also more than happy to help with planning the event if necessary, or even be present on the actual day if his clients need a host.
He says: "We don't want to just be an event venue. We can help with your decorations, logistics, help you source for musicians for entertainment, set up equipment, even clean up so you can just drop everything and go."
As for food, while they don't have an in-house chef at the moment, clients are welcome to use external caterers, or hire their own private chefs as well, he adds. "If anything, we're at least always there to provide advice and expertise, free of charge. We want to create an experience you will remember."
FROM FARM TO TABLE
The Farm at One Farrer
One Farrer Hotel & Spa,
Mezzanine Level 7
This open-air 11,000 sq-ft space was launched just last year as an agricultural facility where a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits – such as green papayas (below), kale, bitter gourd, and Thai sweet basil – are grown for use in the hotel's restaurants and cooking studio.
You've heard of farm-to-table, but what if that table was right in the middle of the farm? That's what you can get at One Farrer Hotel & Spa, when you book the private dining space at their 7th floor mezzanine, named The Farm.
This open-air 11,000 square-foot space was launched just last year as an agricultural facility where a variety of vegetables, herbs, and fruits – such as green papayas, kale, bitter gourd, and Thai sweet basil – are grown for use in the hotel's restaurants and cooking studio, Origins of Food.
Right in the middle of all the greenery are a few tables among the vine-covered trellises, enough for guests to hold a sit-down dinner for up to 12 people, or a reception of up to 40.
The hotel's chairman, Richard Helfer, explains that having this space to grow crops began as a vision for doing farm-to-table dining, and opening it up to the public for private dining events was just a natural progression.
"Wherever possible, our vegetables, herbs, and spices will come from The Farm, although harvesting schedules and quantities required affect our ability to do so on a regular basis. But we do emphasise the usage of what we grow," he says.
As for meats, he believes in a market-to-table approach, which is why these are purchased daily from the nearby Tekka Market, as opposed to having them imported from around the world. Guests at The Farm can then have their meats grilled on the barbecue, using the "farm-grown Hawaiian Ti Leaves".
Although booking the event space doesn't allow for external catering, Dr Helfer is confident that their hotel kitchens are well-equipped to handle any requests – be it Western, Asian, Middle Eastern, etc – for any kind of home-cooked style cuisine.
The minimum charge for dining at The Farm is S$150 per person, excluding alcohol, and some examples of signature dishes are the Hawaiian salt-encrusted tomahawk, and Ti Leaf-wrapped laksa or sambal paste sea bass.
When asked why he chose to open up The Farm for private dining, instead of using the space for growing more crops, Dr Helfer explains that it's all part of completing the overall experience. In other words, to allow people to appreciate how the food is grown, while at the same time "savouring the rewards of our efforts".
This article was first published in The Business Times.