I’m perched on a rooftop bar built into a massive man-made tree, on what’s supposedly the world’s first outdoor rotating bar, watching lights twinkle over the Singapore Marina. The only snag is nothing’s moving.
It turns out there are technical problems at SuperTree, a new bar and restaurant inside Singapore’s lush, Avatar-style eco-park, Gardens By The Bay. But it’s still a fabulous, if stationary, view.
This latest Singapore opening from IndoChine, a brand known for green credentials and healthy fusion food, is at the top of the tallest
structure in the Gardens, in a cluster of multicoloured vertical structures that harness enough solar energy to light up like Christmas every night.
However, when we call again for lunch in the sweltering noon heat, we decide we’d be better off in the cooler conservatory – and that’s where things get weird.
Ascending via a lift decorated with an undersea jellyfish mural and kaleidoscopic fairy lights, we’re greeted with the kind of decor Laurence Llewelyn Bowen might cook up over one too many Singapore Slings. There are cow-hide stools, tiger-print armchairs and metallic snakeskin cushion covers – plus lots of tropical flowers and lime and fuchsia ‘accents’.
The music is not only loud but switches from Rihanna’s S&M to lounge covers of Immaculate Collection-era Madonna – not a playlist I’m particularly averse to but I’m not sure it constitutes the ‘sophisticated and holistic entertainment experience’ promised on the menu.
You can’t fault the restaurant for its good intentions, though – it was built using a material forged from polymer resin and rice husks, thus avoiding endangered timber and various environmentally harmful materials, and the place does everything it can to make sure it’s as carbon neutral as possible. Chefs use organic produce and avoid putting endangered species on our plates. The food is also ‘nutraceutical’, which apparently means it’s packed with vitamins, minerals and other health-boosting goodies.
Unable to decide what to eat, we attempt a bit of everything. The grilled beef in wild betel leaves with turnip and Asian herbs is juicily flavoursome, while sweet potato and truffle mash is a cloud of umami-infused deliciousness. Lychees filled with pork loin and bacon, fried in bread crumbs and topped with mayonnaise, are light, fruity and moist. The king prawn rice paper rolls have a lovely fresh mint taste but the fried squid is a bit gnarly and rubbery, like bad pub calamari.
By this point I feel like I’ve overdone it but I manage to find a second wind to share some Vietnamese coffee crème brûlée, which is dark and sweetly delicious.
Eating out has been dubbed the national pastime in Singapore and you can undoubtedly find even better food in the city – don’t leave before trying the chilli crab at Jumbo, complete with fluffy but crispy brioche rolls to dip into the rich spicy gravy. It turned me into a claw-sucking cavewoman.
With a bill of about £30 to £40 before booze, SuperTree isn’t crazily expensive. And, ultimately, you’re there for the spectacular view, taking in the glass canopies of the garden domes, the Singapore Flyer (the largest Ferris wheel in the world) and the skyscrapers beyond. Bring friends, enjoy the cocktails and you might just have what SuperTree calls ‘an extremely wicked time’.