The pandemic has hit the F&B sector hard. Yet, in the past two years, Singapore has also seen the birth of some of our most spectacular restaurants that drive across the point that we aren’t just a global food city, but an excellent one.

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From eclectic bistros big on personality to a French fine-dining institution housed in a heritage church building, these joints are bold in both concept and taste, suffused with the warmth and thoughtfulness of a good friend no matter the setting. And, of course, their interiors are stunning, making them destinations to see and be seen at, and compel one to get all dressed up – even if it’s for a table of one.

Credit:Stefan Khoo

California-Italian is the name of the game for the cuisine at California Republic.

Enter California Republic. This 2,100sq ft space that opened on Amoy Street last month has all the chic of a Tarantino film. The likes of sputnik lamps, vintage telephones and retro Hollywood posters accent its wood-panelled walls and furnishings to create the feel of being in a friend’s home in ’60s California. (The service is suitably affable and unpretentious.)

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And like in a Tarantino film, what the kitchen serves up is one glorious, sensorial affair. Clock the grilled oysters with chipotle chilli and bourbon butter; sprightly Tuscan kale salad with blood orange and Pecorino; and grilled calamari with romesco and an addictive hazelnut crumb that you see here.

Ahead, Rohit Roopchand, chief executive officer of F&B company The Dandy Collection which is the brainchild behind the space and other stylish dining concepts around town such as Fat Prince and Neon Pigeon, tells us more about what you can expect here.

california republic
Credit:Stefan Khoo

Wool jacket, jersey turtleneck, Stretch Oval metal sunglasses and XX Flap embossed calfskin shoulder bag, Balenciaga

ON THE EXPERIENCE CALIFORNIA REPUBLIC HOPES TO BRING TO GUESTS

“We want people to experience So-Cal living, relaxed, laidback like you’re in your friend’s living room. Eating a beautiful meal, thoughtfully put together, bringing the best of California Italian food to you, with our take on it. We’re not reinventing the wheel here, we’re taking something everyone is familiar with, but putting our own spin on it.”

ON HOW THE SPACE’S DESIGN COMPLETES THE DINING EXPERIENCE

“California Republic is designed to remind you of being in an old friend’s living room in the ’60’s California days. From the fireplace to the wooden paneled walls, patterned retro furniture, light fittings, and old Hollywood posters it is designed to feel laid back and relaxed yet glamorous. Sputnik lamps, retro telephones, to record players, to clocks were carefully picked up, and sourced for to bring you back to that time of woodie surf wagons and sunken living rooms.”

ON THE CROWD PLEASERS

“Seeing as we’ve just opened we’re still sussing this out but definitely the repeated orders belong to the Celery Root Cappellacci, a filled pasta dish; Lazy Man’s Cioppino, a tomato-based stew classic of California; Smoked Bucatini, a revised pork ragu in bianco version; and the West Coast Garlic Mops, our interpretation on California’s famed Garlic Knotts. The Espresso Martinis have been selling out fast! They do well simply because they taste so good if we may say so ourselves! They’re simple, authentic dishes made to taste lighter, fresher and brighter. They’re familiar and remind people of a warm hug. Isn’t that all we want?”

Photography Stefan Khoo, assisted by Alif Styling Damian Huang, assisted by Tatiyana Emylia Hair EC Tan/1tto+Lim Makeup Sarah Tan, assisted by Vanessa Drea Coordination Noelle Loh, assisted by Gordon Ng Model Wu Xiaodan/Mannequin

A version of this article first appeared in the May 2022 Taste Edition of FEMALE