Cool haunts on Circular Road

Circular Road is shaping up to be a posh clubbing and dining hotspot for yuppies, trendy hipsters and families, slowly shaking off its age-old reputation as a sleazy nightlife strip. Since entertainment and lifestyle group Limited Edition Concepts inked an $8 million deal to take over 28 shophouse units in the area, it has brought in three new concepts to Circular Road - upscale bistro lounge The Vault, French creperie and wine bar Le Comptoir and boutique club Chateaux.

At least another seven cool dining and bar concepts, including a whiskey bar and a Vietnamese-French inspired noodle bar, are expected to launch by November. The newcomers are expected to give Circular Road a sophisticated vibe that pervades much like other gentrified areas such as Jiak Chuan and Keong Saik Roads or bar-hopper haven Club Street. It is part of Limited Edition Concepts' long-term goal to create a vibe similar to Covent Garden or Shoreditch in London.

Life! heads down to check out the new kids on the block.

Le Comptoir
79 Circular Road

Nm le comptoir 1906

A fantastic new French creperie - the only one in the CBD area - that offers a great variety of French apple and pear ciders. The place is run by French couple Marie and Antoine Rouland, who also run wine bar O Batignolles at Club Street, and gives traditional French crepes a modern twist.

Expect fusion choices such as the Kao San Road crepe (pan-fried prawns, egg, tomatoes, garlic, soya, mango and mint) or the Chase The Spices crepe (masala chicken, ginger, onions, peanuts, chilli, tomatoes and cheese), alongside traditional ham and cheese crepes. The buckwheat flour for the crepes is imported from Brittany, France, and is prepared by French chef Pierre Calve, 28, who has worked at French creperies in Paris and Zurich.

Prices: $5 to $25 for crepes; mains from $18. Check for lunch-time specials. Ciders from $6 by the glass; wine from $46 by the bottle or $10 by the glass. Happy hour deals include cocktails from $10 and bottles of cider from $16.
Opening hours: 11am to midnight (Monday and Tuesday); 11am to 2am (Wednesday to Saturday); closed on Sunday.
Info: Call 6534-7645 for reservations

79 Circular Road #02-01

Nm chateaux 1906

Party VIP-style at the only club lounge in the neighbourhood to banging electronic dance music spun by the club's local resident DJ Juice. Chateaux was opened in April by partners Sharma Das, 28, and Andrew Carver, 30, who used to run Russian-inspired luxe boutique club Dom Lounge in Marina Bay Sands.

The 5,000 sq ft Chateaux offers a cosy and intimate space and can take up to 160 patrons on the second and third floors of the shophouse unit at the corner of Circular Road and Lorong Telok.

Prices: Free admission; champagne and vodka by the bottle from about $200 each.
Where: 79 Circular Road, 02-01 (enter by side entrance next to Le Comptoir restaurant)
Opening hours: Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 10pm to 3am
Info: Call 97723953 or e-mail

The Vault
23 Circular Road

Nm vault 1906

An upscale bistro lounge that used to occupy the space in South Bridge Road where the old OCBC bank vault from the 1930s used to be. It moved to Circular Road last December, taking up four shophouse units. It is run by lifestyle group Limited Edition Concepts, whose owners admit they are "suckers for old buildings".

Inspired by the architectural history of the building in Circular Road, the lounge offers a sophisticated yet edgy atmosphere. Expect a good mix of funk, soul, house and afro-latin beats while you sip on popular cocktails like the Strawberry and Basil Collins (gin, lemon juice, strawberry liqueur, fresh strawberries and basil leaves) and the Banker's Mule (vodka, pineapple and lime juice, kaffir lime leaves, ginger beer).

The kitchen has a menu which changes frequently, but some of the popular dishes served include Caribbean-style chicken served with pilaff rice and sultana-infused curry leaves and the Vault burger with home-made buns, caramelised onion jam, wasabi mayonnaise, pickled cucumber salad, tomato and black pepper fries.

The 5,500 sq ft venue exudes an industrial feel (think old brick walls and copper and steel fixtures) and features an al fresco area where bargoers can chill out and enjoy the cool night breeze.

Prices: Cocktails generally cost $16 and $18; happy hour house pour spirits and half-pint beers start from $5; set lunch deals are priced from $20
Opening hours: The Vault Kitchen is open from 11.30am to 3pm and 6 to 10.30pm (Tuesday to Friday); and 6 to 10.30pm (Saturday); closed on Sunday and Monday
The Vault Lounge is open from 5pm to 1am ( Wednesday and Thursday); 5pm to 3am (Friday); 6pm to 3am (Saturday); closed from Sunday to Tuesday.
Info: Call 6223-9695 or e-mail

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