Italian-American chef Vinny Lauria’s debut in Singapore comes with certain expectations. He has quite the resume: The man’s behind some of Hong Kong’s most popular restaurants: Stone Nullah Tavern (known for its fried chicken), Linguini Fini (go there for handmade pasta) and Posto Pubblico (wicked pizzas right this way).
The Guild didn’t take long to impress. We started small—with salt and vinegar fries, fresh oysters from Pulau Ubin, a melt-on-your-warm-bread brawn terrine, General Tso’s frog legs and the “marrow” bruschetta, a fascinating plate of charred bread topped with frog hashima. The fatty tissue is pretty much tasteless on its own, but throw in the oxtail marmalade, parsley and pickled onions in your mouth and you get taste somewhat similar to marrow on bread. Clever.
And it gets better. If the mains that came after say one thing, it’s that Lauria and his sous chef Alton Huang do glorious char (watch out, Burnt Ends). The fork-tender grilled sweet and spicy bacon (more like pork belly) is full-on with its smoky, barbecue flavor, and you won’t even miss sambal with the dry-rubbed and charred-black BBQ stingray with sugar snap pea citronette. But The Guild isn’t a barbie joint, and not everything is burnt and smoked. On the menu you’ll also find Lauria’s signature mac ‘n’ cheese, a homemade umami-filled pork sausage, and a jaw-droppingly good, oh-so-comforting chicken noodle soup—we recommend them all.
The food was beautifully done, and earnestly sourced from the local community, but don’t just come here for dinner. Linger a while to explore its well-rounded drinks menu, which boasts a whopping 19 craft beers on tap from Young Master Brewery, a pioneer of the craft-brewing movement in Hong Kong. Start with Another One, a fresh, easy-to-drink beer, before trying limited edition ones like the tart and funky Days of Being Wild brewed with Dried Cherries. Barman Yadhaven Santheran, previously of Andaz Singapore and The Summerhouse, also has a gin and tonic on tap, alongside a variety of interesting-sounding cocktails (including Umami Gibson, a savory concoction made with shiitake-infused vermouth, black tomato gin and pickled mushroom brine) that feature small-batch spirit producers.
It’s a charming, convivial place to dine in. And by the time you step out of the restaurant-bar, the world will seem a cheerier place.
The Guild, 55 Keong Saik Road, #01-01, Singapore 089158. For reservations and inquiries, call 6920 7500.