Halia is blessed by its situation deep within the manicured tropical vegetation of Singapore’s famed Botanic Gardens. It has also done well in choosing its staff carefully. Whilst they were apologetic that there wasn’t more on the current website for those avoiding gluten they explained that it is a new menu which they will adjust to take account of the lack. Interestingly, they said they are often asked for dishes that are g-f and clearly like to offer inclusive hospitality. They were actually so concerned by the absence of choice that they unexpectedly presented us with a refreshing complementary fruit salad of fruit and berries which made it feel as though they weren’t just paying lip-service to the cause.
Ginger in all its manifestations is a theme at this restaurant, even extending to the derivation of its name, the Malay word for Ginger. In deference to that, I chose their signature Halia Infusion, a mixture of ginger and honey which, if you like ginger, I could definitely recommend.
I then opted for the argula, pumpkin and Meredith goats cheese salad, a classic combination which, whilst undemanding of the kitchen, was enjoyable.
The praline ice cream, with ginger compote was a suprisingly successful combination. The ice cream tasted more like iced unchewy nougat than I anticipated from the description given on the menu, but it nevertheless worked with the slightly spiced compote of ginger.
The restaurant doesn’t take bookings for brunch but it is possible to call in advance to ask how full they are, as we did (as well as asking about g-f options). Arriving early allows the option of choosing between the air conditioned restaurant or sitting amongst the greenery in a slightly elevated open terrace. As it was brunch time when we went, we chose the terrace which we suspect lent itself better to appreciating the tropical sights and sounds, so familiar from our years living in one of Singapore’s historic black and white houses. Coincidentally Ridley Park was named in honour of one of the Botanic Garden’s early directors, the man creditied with transforming Malaysia’s fortunes through its exportation of rubber.
A word of advice though, if you aren’t entirely familiar with the Botanic Gardens, do take a map to help you find your way in and out. Although calling for a taxi is an option,* empty ones on the prowl for passengers are relatively few and far between at the Halia restaurant side of the Gardens, not least as Tyersall Avenue is open only to one way traffic. The Gardens are both beautiful and extensive – 183 acres I am told, with the most wonderful section near to Halia devoted to orchids. Bearing in mind the high rise construction taking over much of the rest of Singapore, the Gardens are a wonderful refuge from the city centre to spend some time in the tropics.
The Halia, Singapore Botanic Gardens,1 Cluny Road, Singapore 259569 Tel: 8444 1148
www.thehalia.com – no reservations taken for brunch
Citycab Taxis – Tel: 6552 1111