Get to Gazette for Belgian bites
While the country is showing signs it is recovering from the Covid-19 haze, Telok Ayer seems to have already regained its bounce.
It is once again one of the hottest streets in Singapore, with its host of restaurants and bars generating a crackling atmosphere.
One new player is Gazette, which serves Belgian cuisine.
It opened in January but got sidelined by the pandemic. Today, the crowd has returned.
When I dined there on a Thursday, it had a respectable flow of patrons - some stopped for a beer and a snack, others for a meal.
The restaurant is owned by sommelier Pierre Bolly (formerly of one-Michelin-starred restaurant Meta), while Singaporean chef Eugene Chee heads the kitchen.
Bolly is the Belgian in this equation, so there are plenty of Belgian beers alongside the wine selection.
At first glance, Gazette is understated. The terracotta-coloured walls are as "loud" as it gets, but the food speaks volumes.
One of the best dishes from my meal was the grass-fed beef tartare served with hand-cut fries ($30).
The dish is simple - seasoned chopped beef with a great side.
But the play on texture and flavours (the buttery tartare with the crisp fries) makes this memorable.
You can't run from a mussel dish when you are in a Belgian restaurant, and the ones here are, as expected, excellent.
For $45, you get a serving with a choice of sauce and a side of fries.
The white wine sauce is the classic pick, and it works well because of its mellowness, although I prefer the blue cheese sauce. It hits your nostrils first, and the taste is as vibrant as it smells, balancing the sweetness of the mussels. The fries are very good too. I like mine crispy and they are exactly that.
I am on the fence about endive, but the endive salad ($22) with nuts, cranberries and blue cheese works for me because the dish has the perfect blend of sweet, salty and bitter.
As for the dish of charred green asparagus, poached egg and Bayonne ham ($24), all of the three components on the plate shine. It's great for someone who wants something light.
The staple dessert is probably the Belgian waffle ($15).
I find waffles a waste of stomach space even though I know it is a wildly popular choice. There is always too much sugar, which is the case here.
While I won't bother with desserts, there is enough on the main menu to keep the dining experience interesting.