col singapore review

COL is a restaurant with ruthlessly Rich flavours & a painfully chic Interior

Keong Saik has no shortage of modish restaurants. A blindfolded person could, more likely than not, walk aimlessly and be greeted with the sight of a sleekly furnished restaurant facade when the restraints are off. Overloaded with cutting-edge dining concepts, what would allow newcomers to stand out?

colin buchan

For COL, it’s more of the same. Or less of the same, depending on perspective. Like many of its neighbours, the space is fitted out with svelte wooden textures without looking overindulgent. It’s a painfully gorgeous model for which most modern minimalist restaurants strive.

But its real distinguishing factor lies in the way the establishment drives its buzz even further —while already inside Singapore’s edgiest gastro-neighbourhood— to exude an unapologetic indifference towards stiff, snooty dining savoir-faire.

keong saik best restaurants

Indeed, COL is a restaurant that exultantly channels a sort of effortless intentional nonchalance that is often attempted unsuccessfully. One where the energy appears teetering on the brink of disorder but there’s a secure belief that everything is within control.

It fits hitchlessly into what I perceive as a flourishing casual restaurant archetype. One which lets loose with a sense of irreverence and rambunctiousness while also showcasing finesse and brilliance that competes with the cream of the crop.

Sharp in Style and Substance

col restaurant keong saik

Head chef Colin Buchan has spent much of his culinary life cutting his teeth at kitchens presided by the most eminent names to come out of Great Britain — Marco Pierre White, Andrew Fairlie, Gordon Ramsay, et al.

Maybe that’s the reason behind one cryptic ornament — a portrait of White, staring them down from one end of the pass, watching COL’s service unfold. Could the memories of shouting “yes, Marco” and the unnerving sight of that trademark scowl have pushed Colin to eke out every atom of perfection? Because the starters were astounding.

col financiers

Nonetheless, the graceful way in which the Carrot and Espelette Pepper Financiers ($18/3pcs) nudged the meal into a full sprint from minute zero was nothing short of spectacular. Divorced from its conventional dessert form, COL’s dense, sticky financier was an iconoclastic icon.

The devil hid in the details. As sublime as the base texture was, all my attention was fixated on the stellar coalescence of the lightly sweet pastry, sharp parmesan custard, and potently umami Gentleman’s Relish — bold, unique, and bewitchingly complex.

col restaurant review

Colin appears to have an affinity for bodacious flavours because COL continually pushed out heavy-hitting classics, next flaunting the Aged Beef Tartare ($28). In contrast to the usual mustard-stained French classic, the unique blend of gherkins, shallots, and candied pecans bestows it with an intoxicatingly rich profile, weaved through with whispers of sweetness and piquancy.

Matched against the fearsomely earthy, and assertively bitter, depth of the red endives and you have a remarkably well-rounded dish that’s not merely a prosaic repetition of a classic.

col restaurant singapore

In the midst of all the dauntless richness, the unassuming Wood-Fired Bread ($22) became one of the biggest surprises of the night, all stemming from its stupendously supple crumb.

There’s no doubt that COL’s special amalgam dip —comprising whipped feta, pistachio, chilli, lemon, and coriander— was exceptionally addictive and rich. However, it’s the conduit that steals the show with the layers of textures, featuring a suavely smoke-kissed crust that snuggly embraced its innards, blissfully fluffy while also enthrallingly dense.

More of the Less

col restaurant keong saik

There’s only so much the fear of god can compel and even White’s dagger-laden glare couldn’t completely prevent a downturn when the mains came around. No, this isn’t unique to COL and the “main course syndrome” is seemingly endemic to even the best casual restaurants in Singapore.

For the most part, this passage of the dinner was bogged down by the Roasted Cauliflower ($26). Admittedly, expectations should have been tempered, but its moist softness was precariously inches away from sogginess and the Saikyo miso and green sauce proved to be a noxious sesame-forward muddle of flavours that didn’t really drive the conversation anywhere.

keong saik food

Continuing with Colin’s romance with boldness, COL’s Woodfired Prawns ($42) exemplified everything right with smoked seafood. Well, almost everything.

At its core, the crustaceans were buoyant to the bite while also scandalously drowned in a moreish cloak of smokiness — this is one of those dishes where excessive richness is easily forgiven and instead relished. Alas, there was one small flaw — the char seeped through the prawn head and tainted its sapid juices with an unfortunate gravelly guff.

keong saik pasta

Through it all though, COL Hand-Rolled Tagliatelle with Scottish Mussels (S$34) remained steadfast as a dependable anchor with its unbridled heartiness.

The handmade pasta, while not breathtaking, swiftly encharmed through streaks of brackish richness, splendid whispers of heat and twang, and a distinct woody muskiness that punctuated the dish with an assertive depth — admittedly, it is a bit of an acquired taste.


Despite the drop-off, which wasn’t quite as egregious if not for the cauliflower, COL nonetheless dazzled with some true-to-self ingenuity. Most restaurants come with hits and misses, after all.

Having only been in operation since the tail-end of 2022, COL’s resplendent peaks only signal greater things waiting just over the horizon, hopefully.

Make your reservations here.


Website | Instagram

  • Address: 1 Keong Saik Rd., #01-05 The Working Capitol Building, Singapore 089109
  • Hours: (Tues–Sat) 6pm–12am


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