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The best set lunches in the CBD

Call a friend working close by or plan a romantic lunch rendezvous for one of these good-value lunch spots in the CBD

Aura Sky Lounge
1/7

Aura Sky Lounge

It's official: vegetables are the food world's new big cheese and Aura Sky Lounge has a midday buffet dedicated to the Med's interpretation of dishes centred on root and leaf.

The rooftop restaurant and bar looks out to a serene side of the Civic District, with the Padang, Esplanade and slivers of the gleaming green bay in view – a seat inside the carpeted and art deco-inspired room feels decidedly plush for an afternoon meal.

Eighteen bucks nets you as many scoops from the counter-side spread as you can inhale, and dishes include grilled endives and hazelnuts scented with lashings of truffle vinaigrette, a toss-up of wild rice, fava beans and olive tapenade, and nutty amaranth and lentil grains with shallots and roasted oranges. Those fluffy boules and buns we've come to love Beppe de Vito's restaurants for are also up for grabs.

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City Hall
Artemis Grill
2/7

Artemis Grill

The city's newest perch lies at the top of the leafy CapitaGreen skyscraper, with views of the Straits, Sands and Supertrees – so ask for the seats where you can see it all. It'll make an enthralling lunchtime companion to the refined Mediterranean fare, upgraded with touches of North African heat and spice that head chef Fernando Arevalo cleverly incorporates on the plates here.

Veggies, seafood and meat dishes are all democratically represented on the menu, and dessert is just a $5 upgrade from the two-course price ($45). Although, the more premium offerings like octopus, lobster and prawn saffron risotto (add $12) and charcoal-kissed Black Angus tenderloin (add $12) require top-ups. And don't knock the meatless main – that summer vegetable tart is a refreshing tumble of crunchy asparagus, tomatoes, and onions on a baba ganoush-filled shell.

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Telok Ayer
Bacchanalia
3/7

Bacchanalia

Call ahead for this one. News of Bacchanalia opening for lunch has so far spread just by word of mouth, but those three-dish meals ($48) deserve a shout-out.

They're mostly different sets of plates from the dinner spread, with chef Ivan Brehm and his team serving up straightforward presentations of pastas, meats and seafood made with the same carefully sourced ingredients they use at dinner.

Dishes like capellini pasta with lobsters and sakura ebi, risotto Milanese and grass-fed dry-aged striploin (add $12) might not be available by the time you go – the menus change every two to three weeks – but whatever's on, you'll get a good sneak preview of the invention that the restaurant is known for.

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City Hall
Tippling Club
4/7

Tippling Club

Chef Ryan Clift likes to call his set lunch menus an industry secret, but looking at the diners that pack the restaurant every day, it's clear the Tippling Club has become somewhat of a lunchtime institution.

The two- ($48) and three-course ($60) affairs start with the same array of surprising snacks with which dinner patrons kick off their degustation journeys. But being an early bird has its added perks – lunch is usually a first-dibs tasting of the experimentation brought to life from Clift's test kitchen.

Tippling Club's also one of those rare spots where the bar's open in tandem with its lunch hours, so if you're ready to sip down a tipple, the award-winning bar team is at the ready.

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Restaurant Ember
5/7

Restaurant Ember

With its handsome, carpeted room and serious executive types rocking up for lunch, this Hotel 1929 spot looks like a traditional option for a discreet business pow-wow. But chef Sufian Zain's weaving of Asian ingredients and flavours with European presentation and execution is refined and very filling for an afternoon treat.

Ember's menu offers plenty of permutations – pick first from a starter and main course ($29) or go the full hog with a starter, a main, and a dessert ($39). Your choices then include a salad of orange, honey, mesclun and meaty tiger prawns, Hokkaido scallop carpaccio, and roasted French poulet with duck fat-oiled potatoes. A 200-day grain-fed Australian sirloin is just $6 for the upgrade, and an extra course ($28) of Zain's crustacean-rich signature bowl of capellini pasta is a must-order if you have an extra compartment to stow it away in.

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Outram Park
Catalunya
6/7

Catalunya

It's not easy to find a good meal for just $38 this close to shimmering water, but Catalunya does that from its glass dome on the bay. The Spanish restaurant dishes out a brand new menu every two weeks on a Monday to keep things novel and entice to return.

Each new wave of dishes – which promises to court herbivores, omnivores and pescatarians – are different from the à la carte options that are also available at lunch. But what's always consistent are the bold Spanish ingredients and strident flavours in dishes like mussels with vibrantly spiced tomato sofrito, and flank steak with red wine jus. Plus, a glass of red or white is only a $10 supplement away.

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Raffles Place
Esquina
7/7

Esquina

For those times when a dinner reservation at Esquina is elusive, book in for lunch at a relative steal.

Head chef Carlos Montobbio and his team cart out a lottery of options, borrowed from the dinner menu, every day. A tapas, main and 'cone' go for $28, and you can add $10 for an additional snack and dessert for your meal. (Cross your fingers for our favourite dishes: a clever, nigiri-inspired stack of fruity bell pepper on salted cod brandade, and INKA-fired Spanish octopus with oyster leaves and burnt onion.)

We're also partial to the sardines with Montobbio's own sorbet-caviar-zucchini samfaina, and beetroots with burrata and a whiff of truffles. Watching the open kitchen action is a fun respite from a day at the grind, and the counter-side seating doesn't make solo lunches feel too awkward.

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Outram Park

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