A booking at Alter Native, a private dining experience I’ll wager many of you have heard of, might be the hardest reservation to secure in Singapore right now.
It serves just six people a night Wednesday through Saturday and when reservations open up online once a month, they are snapped up within the minute – even as it costs S $ 220 per head.
That’s a testament both to our foodie scene, in which people are passionately looking for and supporting special and unique experiences, and to the brilliance of chef and proprietor Desmond Shen.
If Shen’s name is familiar, it’s because he was the genius behind Tiffin Bicycle Club, the unique, gourmet modern Singaporean online food service that emerged during COVID-19 “circuit breaker” and quickly became a cult sensation.
With Singapore re-opening and social distancing measures relaxed, Shen, who turns 29 this year, has opened Alter Native, a private dining experience situated in a charming historic home on McNair Road.
Alter Native is, in my opinion, the most unique, most exciting and truly innovative private dining experience in Singapore today. So if you’re a passionate foodie, do whatever you can to secure one of those hard-to-get reservations.
I will not spoil the experience too much, but I will say that the meal is had across two physical spaces. The two dining rooms you’ll sit in are filled with gorgeous local craft, some of which directly inspire the dishes. The food is also extraordinary – complex and artful, but also delicious and accessible. I love that Shen draws inspiration from all of the cultures here in Singapore. The meal is a roller coaster of flavors that leaves you simply stunned by what Chef Shen has put together without assistance.
HI DESMOND, HOW DID YOU COME UP WITH ALTER NATIVE? WHAT ARE YOU HOPING TO DO WITH THIS CONCEPT?
I conceived Alter Native as a private dining experience aspiring to bring a new perspective to local cuisine, hospitality and crafts.
Collaborating with craftsmen and artisans outside of the food and beverage (F&B) industry was always a thing I wanted to do. Being in the kitchen all the time, it’s hard for me to build these connections with them. I wanted a space that would allow me to do this.
Having always seen parallels in the creative processes of both culinary and the arts, I roped in a close friend of mine, Charice, who’s a trained designer, producer and arts curator. Together, we co-programmed Alter Native as a space to house a variety of creative collaborations.