What does an art museum need, beside engaging exhibitions? A great restaurant.
There is nothing better than spending a whole day, being “positively disrupted” by art, allowing the mind to wander beyond its usual routine and the heart to expand into another’s being, another world, than to end the day or take a lunch break with a wonderful dining experience. It is a continuation of a sensory journey, giving us time to soak in and process what we have just seen, time to reflect, time to appreciate.
Ahead of the opening of the National Art Gallery, Aura is now serving classic Italian in its 90-seater restaurant. Located on the fifth floor of the still-empty iconic building, the restaurant is modern with a coziness that is in line with its beautiful food served on thick colorful ceramic dishes (which seemed less refined than the ambience and interior design). We tried a selection of their appetizers, along with the 3-course set lunch menu and one a la carte – Grilled Seabream, Pomegranate + Pistachio Salsa. All the food was delicious and gorgeously presented, and quickly disappeared between happy conversation. Among the appetizers we tried were the Grilled Octopus with Crispy Egg + Corn, Tuna Tartare with Avocado + Grilled Zucchini, and the Parma Ham with Burrata + Cherry Tomatoes.
The staff were well-versed on the menu, which is not always the case, and were able to answer our questions about the dishes. And make good recommendations.
We were invited to have our dessert, and a (surprise) birthday tiramisu upstairs in the Sky Lounge. This was an elegantly furnished space, offering both intimate and comfortable seating, with a marble-topped bar and a wall of alcohol as a backdrop. The palette is understated with the greens, whites, and blacks, contrasted by sparkles in gold accents throughout the room.
The haze from annual forest clearing in Indonesia obscured the view from the 6th floor, which would have been amazing. The air quality this year in Singapore has been atrocious, the usual timeframe of the haze extending far beyond expectations. It is hard to imagine what is going on at ground zero. This is not a Singaporean problem or an Indonesian one, but a global issue as these aggressive forest fires are to clear large tracts of land to grow and harvest for the paper and palm oil industries that are driven by worldwide consumer demand. This was not lost on me as I enjoyed beautiful food, the company of amazing women, and the ambience, within a closed-off bubble high in the sky at a newly refurbished and repurposed iconic building that was once the City Hall and the Supreme Court. We are not as insulated or sheltered as many would like to think or would like to be. It is up to us to be the citizens of the world, to bring balance back to our personal lives, thereby effecting change on the world stage.