The southern latitude of McLaren Vale has matured over the years into what is now a world-renowned region, not only for incredible wine, but for beer and gourmet food too. Remarkable cellar doors scatter the rolling hills, and one in particular sits atop a lonesome peak in all it’s quirky glory, d’Arenberg; and the five-storey cube-like structure is now home to a hawker-inspired eatery, Singapore Circus.
The extraordinarily funky restaurant boasts a melting pot of South-East Asian-inspired cuisine, and is said to channel the vibrantly bold flavours that are found at the junctions of colliding cultures. Drawing inspiration from Singapore’s famed hawker centre, Newton Circus, the restaurant’s name encompasses all senses of the word circus, while chiefly referring to a meeting point, or convergence of roads, reflective of Singapore as a culinary intersection.
The Singapore Circus fare is created within d’Arenberg’s world-class kitchen which was originally developed for the acclaimed Cube Restaurant; but these days, the space has been partially refitted and reimagined to complement the new cuisine. One particular addition is the purpose-built duck oven which is specifically designed to prepare bebek betutu – a Balinese-inspired, whole dry-aged duck which takes four to five days to prepare; a dish Head Chef Jamie Steele discovered while living in Bali, where he worked at esteemed Balinese restaurant, KuDeTa.
The Singapore Circus menu enlists small and large plates, signature dishes, a dedicated veggie section and a feed me option to keep the mystery alive. Across the board, expect to find meals with the likes of: prawn and carp dumplings with black vinegar dressing; Singapore mud crab; Katong laksa with clams, salted carp, prawn and rice noodles; king oyster mushroom satay sticks; and squid salad with herbs, lemongrass, coconut, jicama and pomelo.
While d’Arenberg’s sensational wines are a prominent feature of the beverage list, including an extensive range of museum releases, the infamous cube takes into account that not all who love to dine, love wine. Those seeking alternatives can opt for the carefully curated cocktail pairing, or indulge in Singapore Circus’ plentiful range of non-alcoholic inclusions.
Singapore Circus’ Head Chef, Jamie Steele says, “I spent a large part of my youth growing up in Singapore. It was quite formative in my life in general, but it also helped to form my palate and the food that I liked from a young age.
“As a central trading hub it has always had people and cuisine from almost every culture in the world. Singapore is one of the great food cities with brilliant food from all parts of the world.
“For me though the best of it all is the hawker centers where you will find craftsman who have dedicated their life and trade to one or two dishes – sometimes over multiple generations.
“Singaporeans live to eat. There is no other culture that is as passionate about food as a hedonistic pleasure than the Singaporean. They champion food carts, dishes and hawker centers like other countries celebrate sports stars,” Jamie shares.
While d’Arenberg’s chief winemaker and viticulturalist, Chester Osborn says, “Circuses are loud, fun, colourful and exciting. A little bit of rock and roll – highly orchestrated and a little chaotic all at the same time. It’s a vibe we like and a natural fit for the d’Arenberg Cube which is all about stimulating and heightening the senses.”
The cube itself was constructed in 2017 and continues to uphold it’s multi-functional purpose, housing the winery’s tasting room, private tasting areas, an immersive art gallery, as well as the new restaurant.
You can wine and dine at Singapore Circus every dang day between 12pm and 3pm on level three of the d’Arenberg Cube – a window of time where the sweeping views across McLaren Vale’s greenery are illuminated just nicely with the springtime sunshine.
All images supplied.