East Meets West In Bonchon’s New Menu

20181017_185123 (640x408)Mention Bonchon and your K-food loving friends will sure to say, “Yummy fried chicken!” Well, the popular Korean restaurant, in Singapore since 2011, aims to be known for more than just that when they roll out a new menu by end October. This includes a selection of new “East-meets-West” fusion items, as well as a host of new novelty drinks, that will offer diners more variations of K-food delights at their outlets.

Musings on the M49 was hence delighted to be invited to the media tasting of their new menu items held earlier this week at Bonchon’s Boat Quay outlet.

When East Meets West

2018-10-17 20.28.39 (640x640)What happens when an Italian rice ball meets a Korean rice ball? You get Breaded Kimchi Rice Balls ($7.90), that’s what! This was a lovely mash-up. Crisp and crunchy on the outside, and the kimchi-flavored rice within was tasty and yummy.

Another newbie is the Bonchon Sliders. The Trio Sliders ($12.90) comprising mini deep-fried chili crab, beef and chicken mantou burgers, has a great story behind it. It’s meant to commemorate the presidential Trump-Kim summit held in Singapore on June 12, 2018 – chicken is North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un, beef is Trump, while chili crab represents Singapore. Well, out of the three, Singapore wins hands down. The chili crab slider was the yummiest, crunchy and juicy with a lovely homemade chili crab sauce. Which is why it’s great that you can actually order the Chili Crab Sliders separately ($10.90/2 pcs). If you really prefer chicken, beef or mixed, then go for the Turf Duo Sliders ($9.90/2 pcs).

We also got to try out some of the new drinks on the menu which comprise flavored ice teas and sodas, as well as alcoholic fruit-mixed sujotos. To kick off, we had the Pear & Passionfruit Iced Tea ($5.50) which also includes doses of chamomile, a very refreshing and not-too-sweet drink to kick off one’s meal. Meanwhile, another bite-sized East-meets-West item is the Beef Meatballs ($8.90/6 pcs) which tasted like western beef meatballs except with a distinct dash of Korean bulgogi sauce.

2018-10-17 20.28.28 (640x629)One of the fascinating new items is the Truffle Cream Tteokbokki ($15.90), which is definitely inspired by European cuisine with the tteokbokki (Korean rice cake) being sauteed with shimeji and shiitake mushrooms, onion and truffle cream. I’s a very rich dish which is probably best shared unless you thoroughly enjoyed tteokbokki mixed with loads of mushrooms in a rich creamy sauce!

K-Stew (No, not Kristen Stewart) Delights
2018-10-17 19.15.37 (640x581)Next on the tasting menu were a trio of Korean stews. First up we had the Bonchon version of the very popular Andong Jjimdak Chicken ($15.90/$29.90), which comprises pieces of braised chicken stewed with vegetables such as carrots and potatoes, and marinated in a ganjang (Korean soy sauce) base broth. A tad spicy, the combination was delicious and would be even more satisfying if there was white rice to go with it!

2018-10-17 19.16.06 (640x555)If you prefer your chicken to be even spicier, then go for the, er, Spicy Chicken ($15.90/$29.90) which is chunky chicken with potatoes and carrots braised in a spicy reddish Korean sauce. It was a tasty dish although the Andong Jjimdak probably win out a tad bit in terms of unique taste.

2018-10-17 19.15.25 (620x640)Last but not least, there’s the not-exactly-new Budae Jjigae or Army Stew ($29.90) which has always been a popular item at Bonchon. A  post-war Korean novelty dish that uses leftover army rations such as sausage, luncheon meat, kimchi and tofu, the Bonchon version includes chicken, tteokbokki, egg noodles and string mushrooms. Needless to say, it’s a dish that needs to be shared with an “army” of friends or those with big appetites.

2018-10-17 19.14.52 (640x636)We ended our meal with the Summer Sojuto ($12), which is pineapple, peach, mint mixed with a shot of soju (Korean distilled spirit) which is available in bottle form ($18) as well. A refreshing soothing alcoholic drink that will probably hit you a bit after you finish a jarful, it was a good way to end a good meal.

Other dishes on Bonchon’s refreshing new menu include rice items such as Bibimbap and Bonchon Kimchi Fried Rice, noodles such as cheese or spicy ramyeon, and Bites such as luncheon meat fries, friend mandu (Korean dumplings), and seafood pancake. And not forgetting of course, their famous fried chicken and special sauces.

Bonchon’s new menu is currently available at its Compass One and Northpoint City outlets, while the Boat Quay and Bugis+ outlets will carry it from October 29, 2018.

 

 

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Dining @ Stevens Road

20180927_205634 (640x640)For the longest time, the key landmarks at Stevens Road were mainly the Metropolitan YMCA at No. 60 and Raffles Girls School (off Anderson Road). Since last year though, two striking new hotels—the 254-room Novotel Singapore on Stevens and 518-room Mercure Singapore on Stevens—have been standing tall in that prestigious neighborhood. Add to that, their shared property is also home to 11 F&B outlets which come under the banner of Dine at Stevens. So when my toddly mummy blogger pal invited me to be her +1 for a media tasting at the dining destination, I was more than happy to accompany her.

2018-09-27 18.50.40 (640x640)Held at Food Exchange, a stylish contemporary space located on the second floor of Novotel, the 11 featured outlets each had their own counters to present tasting portions of their fare. While awaiting for the other guests to arrive as we were a tad early, we decided to check the counters directly in our eye-lines.

It was hard to ignore In Piazza as not only were the food fare on display eye-catching, the Italian dudes behind the Italian restaurant were charming to the max. Though the event has yet to officially start, the In Piazza team was eager for us to try their Spaghetti Carbonara. With the chef himself creating the dish in a parmesan cheese wheel right in front of us, how could we say no? Topped with bacon and more cheese, the pasta dish was a good way to start our evening, say what.

Offerings at the nearby Gyu Bar, which specializes in yakiniku (Japanese BBQ) and sake, was just as enticing. One of their most popular items this evening was understandably the yummy beef sushi topped with truffle and made à la minute by the chef.

Another counter that caught my eye was the colorful Indian food fare of Curry Gardenn (yes, with a double “n”).  Specializing in cuisines from the Indian subcontinent, all the items they presented were really delicious – from the Fish Head Curry to Butter Chicken, Naan to Biryani.

Let’s not forget the drinks. From L’Aperitif Tapas Bar, not only did we get to enjoy tasty red Sangria, we also had the chance to savor the sweet, smooth smoked cocktail shooter (above left) which we voted as drink of the night. We also had a very refreshing fruity vodka mixed drink from FudeBar (above right).

From the Blue Lotus Chinese Grill House came a trio of delights (above left, clockwise) —Pickled Chili Octopus Fermented Tofu Barley Risotto (fascinating dish), Popiah (crunchy), and Crab Balls with Signature Chilli Pomelo Sauce (scrumptious). There were also a number of fascinating items at Winestone—which specializes in modern European cuisines—but to make room for more food, I opted for just the mini Seafood Cataplana that had juicy prawn, squid and mussel in a lovely tomato-based gravy.

As the Pool Bar was naturally beside the hotel infinity pool, many missed out on their offerings so the reps simply delivered their stuff—namely savory Barbecued Meats and fresh young Coconuts—to our tables for which we were grateful.

We almost missed out on Food Exchange whose counter was not facing the main dining area. So it was good we still have some space for the rather yummy Chicken Rice Ball complete with red chill sauce and black soy sauce, and a crunchy Vietnamese Veggie Rice Paper Roll. There was also a fresh seafood counter and Japanese sushi area too but alas by then, we were truly stuffed.

2018-09-27 19.00.03 (640x563)Last but by no means least, there’s Long Beach seafood restaurant and PappaRich which offers Malaysian and local delights. Of the 11 Dine at Stevens outlets, these two brands I do patronize their other branches quite often. Hence I didn’t try any of PappaRich’s stuff but if you are looking for authentic Malaysian Chinese, Malay and Indian fare such as Char Koay Teow, Nasi Lemar, and Roti Canai with Curry Chicken, PappaRich is the place to go. As for Long Beach, if you want really good Chili Crab, Pepper Crab and other seafood cooked in various ways, this is one of the best seafood restaurants in Singapore to dine at. The Long Beach Stevens Road rep graciously offered us a separate media tasting session so stay tuned for a separate review on that.

So if you are looking for new places to dine at in Singapore, consider dining at Stevens Road, specifically any of the 11 outlets in and around Mercure Hotel and Novotel Hotel. If you are considering a staycation, these are two hotels where you certainly need not fret about having to find places to eat at!

Dine at Stevens, the dining destination at Mercure Hotel and Novotel Hotel on Stevens, is at 28 Stevens Road.

All photos by Marguerita Tan.

Salted & Hung @ Purvis Street

Been wanting to check out Salted & Hung for quite some time. A contemporary Australian restaurant that specializes in in-house curing and grilling, my chance finally came when two long-time pals helped me celebrate my name day there recently. The eatery is a cozy looking place with interesting decor and murals including a George Orwell quote from Animal Farm welcoming you right up front.

2018-09-04 18.35.56 (640x640)The a la carte dinner menu is a simple one-pager with five sections. The first one was just “Feed Me” and “the chef will do the thinking for you” at $85 per person. We decided not to take the risk on our first try. Other menu categories comprises four Snacks ($6-28) that include offerings of caviar and tripe; Small Plates ($16-28) with interesting meats including kangaroo, octopus and quail; Josper (grill/oven items, $28-68) with more regular meat fare such as beef, pork, chicken and fish; and finally Farm ($8-18) which offers more veggie type sides such as roasted cabbage and black mash.

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We two early birds decided to go for a few starters as the third soul was going to be late. Here’s where we became very adventurous. As many different types of sausages were displayed in a fridge facing our table, we asked if we could order one to try. The waitress serving us checked and then said yes. After checking that it cost only $16, we decided to go for it. The pork sausage, served grilled with a peppery sauce, was really nice and savory.

We also ordered toasted sourdough bread which was not on the menu as well (can’t rem the price). Though a tad burnt, it did taste good with the accompanying whipped lard and chili oil. What was really nice was the bread on the menu. The Nduja Buns ($6)-also served with whipped lard and chlli oil-were soft, fluffy and great for soaking up the gravy from our next dish.
2018-09-04 19.41.26 (640x640)The Fremantle Octopus ($28) is the better of our two Small Plate choices. Well-grilled, meaty and juicy with a fragrant sauce, every mouthful was a pure delight.

2018-09-04 19.45.12 (640x640)The other Small Plate wasn’t bad but it wasn’t great either.  I haven’t eaten quail since I visited our one and only quail farm in Singapore decades ago. We ordered the Quail Fire Bird ($18) over Kangaroo and Beef Tongue because it sounded safer. It was well-presented and appeared well-cooked but we just couldn’t get used to the taste and was the only dish we didn’t cleaned up on the night. So much for being adventurous. Should have gone for a no-frills Roast Chicken I guess.

2018-09-04 20.23.47 (640x640)Thankfully, our Josper item, the Mayura 9+ Wagyu Flank ($68), which is Wagyu beef served with Maitake mushrooms and salsa verde, saved the day. The meat was succulent and absolutely scrumptious. The Australians really know how to do their beef well!

2018-09-04 20.22.47 (640x640)For our fish friend, we actually ordered the Turbot ($48) but the waitress returned to recommend that we have a Barramundi instead as we did mention that we preferred white fish. As it was the same price-Barramundi wasn’t on the menu that night-it was fine with us. It was alright for my friend but frankly, I only came for the red meats at Salted & Hung…

2018-09-04 19.45.40 (640x640)Even a carnivore can appreciate good salads and our veggie choice of Brussels Sprouts ($12) served with Guanciale (Italian cured meat) and yummy Miso Ricotta was really good. The sprouts, tasty and crunchy, almost made me order another bowl, so good it was!

2018-09-04 20.49.01 (595x640)The desserts menu only has seven items so we just went for the first one which is Yuzu Semifreddo ($14) which comprises two scoops of semi-frozen Yuzu and one scoop of coconut served on a really cool ceramic “quail egg”.

Salted & Hung has an extensive drinks list especially for wines, distilled liquors and cocktails. From my trips to Queensland, I’ve grown to love Australian craft beer but alas the tap bar at Salted & Hung was under repair. So I opted for the 8 Bit beer ($18), an Indian Pale Ale which isn’t half bad – it has a thick foam head, fruity with strong hops and caramel notes, and best of all, served in a cool chilled metallic mug. One friend chose the safe option of an East Imperial Superior Thai Ginger Ale ($7.50) which we swore tasted like ginger ale with a dash of tom yum in it!
2018-09-04 21.08.17 (640x640)We also had Long Black Coffee ($5), while our tea drinker friend went for English Breakfast Tea ($7). Thought biscuits were served with our beverages, the waitress also offered us three big crunchy biscuits served in a nice brown box. Also, the manageress (I assume) Ellie came round to ask for our feedback on the evening meal, as well as to tell us about the weekend brunch at Salted & Hung and her favorite food haunts. Very nice touches that added value to the evening.

2018-09-04 20.13.55 (640x640)All in all, Salted & Hung is a cool place to dine at. It’s also the first place in yons that I even took a picture of the cutlery – look how great looking that meat carving knife is! For all our orders, it came up to about $60 per person which is decently reasonable. Definitely am up for future visits. 🙂

Salted and Hung is at 12 Purvis Street. Opening Hours: Tue-Fri: 11.30am to 2.30pm/6pm-10.30pm; Sat: 11.30am-4pm (brunch)/6-10.30pm; Sun: 11.30am-4pm (brunch). Closed on Mondays.

Greenwood Fish Market @ Dempsey Hill

2018-08-24 18.46.18 (640x640)When we read that Greenwood Fish Market has set up another outlet in Dempsey Hill, my quarterly dinner mate and I decided to pop all the way up the Hill to try it out. Located at the northern most part of the dining enclave, let’s just say it was a good way to build up a good appetite before dinner for us bus people.

Well Decked Out Premises
2018-08-24 18.11.47 (640x640)We were the first to arrive on a Friday evening which allowed us to admire the well decked out premises before it was packed with diners. The restaurant, which also have al fresco seating, includes a full bar, bistro, wine shelf and “fish” market spanning almost the entire basement floor of Block 8D. Its entire layout and furnishings – from the flora arrangements to the gorgeous tree stump tables and decor – were lovely to behold.

2018-08-24 18.34.46 (640x640)After our orders were taken, we went to check out the “fish market” part of Greenwood. The area was fronted by a cosy lounge area which leads first to the bistro and wine section. Here you can order wines for dine-in although do check the prices carefully ‘cos for certain items, the dine-in price seems much higher than for the bottle itself!

The rest of the area is just like the fresh food section of a mini supermarket. The biggest draw is the seafood on ice, from oysters and mussels to gigantic fish of all kinds. We didn’t ask but we assumed that diners could come and choose what they like, and it will be cooked and served at the table. Besides seafood, there’s also vegetables, bottled condiments, and kitchen utensils for sale.

Loadsa Seafood Choices
In my heyday as a newspaper and magazine writer, friends always took it that if I spent the first few paras of my food review describing what an eatery looked like, it meant the food sucks. That’s not the case for Greenwood Fish Market @ Dempsey Hill. It’s just that the place really does look good, down to its ladies’ toilet with its rustic design complete with chair-shaped coat hooks. Anyway, here’s the grub and grog part.

2018-08-24 18.37.51 (620x640)On returning to our table, our ordered beers were ready for us. Greenwood has a full bar so the beverage and wine list is rather extensive with a good selection of wines, beers, cocktails, house and premium pours, including non-alcoholic and hot drinks. We both opted for draught pints of Japanese beer, Kirin Icihban ($12), which were served in chilled mugs embossed with their brand logo of the mythical “good luck” creature called a kirin. Crispy, hardly gassy with a diminishing head, it was a nice light beer that goes well with food.

Food-wise, the specialty of the place is that you can order fish fillets ($32, 180-200g) or trawler catch ($36, 180-200g) with choice of fish, as well as the style of cooking, served with mash, fries or salad.  You can also have whole fishes (from $75-$99, depending on weight), clams and mussels ($22-32), oysters ($4-$9), crabs, lobsters and Alaskan King Crab legs ($79-market price). A Japanese section–sushi, sashimi, maki and yakitori–is also available. The rest of the menu comprises the usual suspects such as entrees ranging from calamari ($15) to cavier ($158), salads ($16-21), pastas ($19-$42), soups ($10-14) and sides ($9-12). There are also specials ($21-$36) such as House Fish & Chip Fingers, seafood platters for sharing as a starter among 4 people ($65-118), and a red meat section ($25-$140).

2018-08-24 18.44.19 (640x640)For the appetizer, we decided to go for the “entree” that is Bluefin Tuna Tartar ($32) which is fatty chutoro served with shallots, Japanese cucumber, chives and garlic aioli. Sometimes you are afraid to order tartare for fear the meat will not be fresh, but this one was really good and yummy. My friend liked it as it is while I enjoyed it together with all the embellishments.
2018-08-24 18.40.36 (640x640)Our vegetable choice was the Fried Truffle (Oyster) Mushrooms ($12) which was another enjoyable choice. Crispy and tasty, it was certainly a nice snack to go with our beer or even on its own. Best to eat it up fast though as it does go soft after a long while.

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As we wanted to sample as many seafood items as possible, we went for the Special that is the Seafood Basket ($35) that comprises battered snapper, calamari, New
Zealand green lip mussels, prawns, bay scallops, french fries and homemade slaw.  As both of us don’t like mussels, after much coaxing, the waitress offered to replace it with more calamari which was a-ok with us. It was a big basket which made us glad that we were sharing it but if truth be told, it isn’t any different from any battered seafood platter that one can get at a fast food joint. The accompanying salad was good though, as were the fries which were quite a lot. Along with the fried mushrooms, we had too much of a fried thing going, and should have gone for a non-fried fish fillet or trawler catch instead.

2018-08-24 18.41.39 (640x640)Nonetheless it was a good dinner – the ambience was great and the food on the whole was decent (even the complimentary bread). If the friendly service staff could readily help with food recommendations, that would be nice. (Like pointing out that we ordered too much fried stuff, for example.) The damage came to about $60++ per person which was quite reasonable and even more so, when I got an early birthday treat out of it, woo-hoo (should have ordered champagne and cavier, doh!!) Would definitely make a return to try other items on the menu or even the bistro.

Greenwood Fish Market@ Dempsey Hill is at Block 8D Dempsey Road #01-01 S(249672). Opening hours: Tue – Fri: 12pm to 10:30pm; Sat, Sun & PH: 11am to 10:30pm. Closed on Mondays (except Public Holidays).

 

 

Cool Pubs In Belfast

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Sensible sign outside the Duke of York in Belfast [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

When in Belfast, experiencing the Irish pub culture is a must. There are pubs and bars aplenty where you can immerse yourself in and enjoy the best grog and grub that Northern Ireland has to offer. Here’s but three of the top watering holes in the city:

Kelly’s Cellars at 30 Bank Street

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Kelly’s Cellars – one of the oldest pubs in Belfast [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

I managed to find Kelly’s Cellars on my first day at Belfast as my city tour driver announced at the tour’s end that the pub – “which has the best Guinness in town” – was just round the corner behind Primark department store in the city centre. Truth be told, the pub was high on my must-visit list ‘cos major cast members of Game of Thrones the likes of Emilia Clarke and Kit Harington were once pictured in it having after-filming drinks. Well, even without famous faces, the pub–built in 1720 and one of the oldest in the city–was a lovely place with cosy interiors filled with fascinating bric-a-brac. The heartfelt Irish greeting, “Cead Mile Failte”–which means a “hundred thousand welcomes”–can be seen both inside and outside the premises.

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Kelly’s Cellars – an old-fashioned bar with nice interiors [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

Though it was early evening, the pub was already quite packed but I managed to find a nice corner spot on a high stool at the bar. A cheery waitress took my order and told me that it will take a few minutes for the Guinness pint to settle before she serves it to me. She then took the time to tell me that my £2 coins were outdated (bummer!) and patiently helped me check if my other coins were still legal tender!

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Great Pint of Guinness at Kelly’s Cellars [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

A drinking mate told me that the Guinness in Ireland is much better than the ones they served back here in Singapore and she was not wrong! Served well-chilled with a thick foam head, the pint was rich and creamy without much bitterness, and easily the best Guinness I’ve ever tasted. Just wished there was Irish stew to go with it but that was already sold out by 6pm. Still, it was nice to just enjoy a pint at the lovely bar before finding a small table where I could rest my back against the wall and people-watch. When my stomach started growling, I simply popped into the fish ‘n’ chips eatery two doors down…

Bittles Bar at 70 Upper Church Lane

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The “flat” bar that is Bittles Bar [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

Before visiting a new city, I usually follow the local tourism agency either on Twitter or Instagram to see what other interesting places I should look out for. Thanks to @VisitBelfast on Twitter, I learnt about the unique Bittles Bar that is housed in a Flatiron-like building which is, like, totally cool as I love the Flatiron Building in New York.

Located behind Victoria Square mall, the red-bricked bar was built in 1868 and once called the Shakespeare because of its theatrical clientele. Its interiors were just as quaint. Despite small and triangular in shape, it has much character thanks to rows and rows of well-lit beer and whiskey bottles adorning the walls behind the bar, and especially the colorful array of artwork adorning the rest of the room that celebrates Northern Ireland’s literary and sporting heroes, as well as politicians.

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When in Belfast, drink a Belfast Lager! [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

Bittles Bar is also renowned for having one of the widest range of local and international beers in Belfast, as well as for its extensive whiskey collection. As it was a surprising hot and sunny day whilst I was there, I went for a Belfast Lager which was served by the manageress in a well-chilled Franciscan Well (Brewery) mug. The bright golden ale has a nice foam head with crisp flavors of hops and much carbonation. Though it had a slight bitter aftertaste, the beer was nonetheless smooth and refreshing, just great to savor in an aircon environment on a rare hot day in end May.

Duke of York at 7-11 Commercial Court

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Cobbled alleyway along Commercial Court [Photo by Marguerita Tan]

I came across this cool cobbled alleyway in the Cathedral Quarter while hunting for a mural of Jon Snow, the King in the North in Game of Thrones along North Street but which unfortunately I discovered too late that it has since been painted over (sob!) Still, this enchanting laneway was a nice place to discover with its eye-watching wall ornaments, street signage and red benches. The Duke of York, one of the most popular pubs in the city, is along this lane and it’s a huge long bar bedecked with loads of old-time memorabilia both inside and outside its premises. Word has it the bar is truly happening on most nights.

Read also:
Northern Ireland: ‘Game of Thrones’ Locations To Visit North Of Belfast
Northern Ireland: ‘Games Of Thrones’ Locations To Visit South Of Belfast
Belfast: Stunning Street Art

All photos by Marguerita Tan. No text or images from this post are to be used without the blog author’s permission.

 

 

American Taproom @ Waterloo Street

Thanks to a drinking mate’s recommendation, an ex-colleague and I had our quarterly meet-up at the relatively new American Taproom located at Waterloo Centre, a building that is more known to folks working around the area for being next to a food court that has very good chicken rice, Indian rojak, zi char and economy food.

2018-07-10 20.16.57 (640x622)Located closer to the centre’s Queen Street entrance, the craft beer bar-cum-restaurant is a cosy establishment of which the highlight is the marble wall with 30 taps behind its bar. American Taproom (ATR) has an impressive selection of some 30 craft beers on tap ranging from pale ales and lagers to stouts, with brands including Stone from USA, Brewdog from UK, Garage Project from New Zealand and Hong Kong’s Young Master. Available beers on tap will be clearly written on two long chalkboards – one placed near the entrance, the other above the bar.

2018-07-10 18.51.24 (640x640)ATR doesn’t have taster sets but certain brews have taster sizes ($6-$12), while pints range from $10-28. With so many beer choices, we asked the waiters for recommendations. When I told the younger waiter that I would like to try a pale ale that isn’t too fruity, he recommended Young Master’s Classic Pale Ale (above, $15), while my friend opted for Garage Project’s Angry Peaches ($18) from New Zealand, both of which are American Pale Ale variations. The YM Classic has a dark golden hue with a thick foam head; notes were floral and hoppy. Not exactly a robust beer but it went well with the food we ordered. Forgot to ask to try my friend’s beer but she was happy with it. 🙂

2018-07-10 18.58.38 (640x640)ATR has a decent menu with many items that are great “beer food”. There’s pub grub such as Cajun Fries ($8), Spicy Cheese Nachos ($12) and Chili Con Carne ($14); a Cold Cuts & Cheese Board that feeds 3-4 pax ($58); Thin Crust Pizzas ($17-20); and meaty mains such as ATR Burger ($16), Fish & Chips ($16) and steaks ($28). Desserts are mainly ice cream sandwiches ($8). If you are really not into beer, there’s a fair selection of wines, spirits, ciders and non-alcoholic drinks.

We didn’t have to wait long for our food which was great. We ordered a Salami Pizza ($20) with mozzarella, salami and sun-dried which was really good. We also had 1/2 dozen Buffalo Wings ($12/$23 for a dozen) that is marinated with ATR special hot sauce with blue cheese dip that was decently yummy. Lastly, we also had a House Side Salad ($8) as our, er, healthy option.

2018-07-10 20.06.09 (640x640)We really took our time with the food and close to finishing our last pieces, we decided to go for another round of beer. As I took quite a while scanning through the beer board, the older of the two waiters (albeit still very young, mind) decide to help me out by recommending the Brass Wire Pale Ale by Heart of Darkness Saigon ($15). A New England-styled pale ale, the Brass Wire has a bright hazy amber hue with a mild head that evaporated quite quickly. With strong citrus notes and a bittersweet aftertaste, it was a good beer to enjoy even without food accompaniment.

If you like trying different types of craft beers, ATR a good place to check out, with good food to boot too. Only gripe I have is that I wish they would serve the beers in their respective branded lager glasses or mugs like the pubs do in Europe. Other than that, would definitely patronise American Taproom again in future.

American Taproom, at 261 Waterloo Street #01-23, opens from 12pm-12mn.

Gemmills @ Gemmill Lane

2018-05-11 18.53.39 (640x640)A church mate and I wanted to try something off the beaten track for dinner one evening but we didn’t expect it was going to be that tough to find Gemmills. Technically its address is 110 Amoy Street but to locate its entrance, you need to first get into Amoy Alley, then turn right into a back alley off Gemmill Lane to find this quaint little wine bar that serves all-day dining.

The place was small and dim, but still rather charming thanks to its rustic decor. Tables are tiny too and we reckoned Gemmills is more popular as a place to wine rather than to dine. Its one-page Mediterranean-influenced menu is not extensive, not exactly cheap either, but fascinating nonetheless. Half of it were appetizers priced between SGD$6-$12, most seem very vegetarian (albeit healthy sounding), and “meaty” main courses ($18-32) seem to comprise mainly two fish dishes ($32) and one whole roast chicken ($50). Besides desserts (@$12), there is a decent selection of wines, cocktails, beers and ciders, juices, gourmet coffee and tea.

2018-05-11 18.57.12 (560x640)Since it’s a wine place, we kicked off with the house wines which were just $10 per glass during Happy Hour (5-7pm, Mon to Thu). I love my red but my friend’s white was quite bland. Luckily they served water as well so my pal was happy to go with that thereafter, while I had another glass of red.

2018-05-11 19.02.44 (640x605)As one of our starters, we ordered a House Baked Sourdough ($6) served with herbal butter which was quite nice. Although the crust was hard as rock, the inside was super soft and tasted really yummy with the butter.

2018-05-11 19.03.01 (635x640)We also had the Cold Cuts Board ($18) which was actually sufficient as a dish by itself. Lots of delicious slices of different kinds of ham, a generous dosh of salad, and even came with sourdough bread. Service was on the whole great but we felt that the waiter could have helped by letting us know how big the portions for each dish is, and – as there is bread with the cold cuts board – that we may not need to order a separate bread item (unless we wanted to). Still, they were considerate enough to give us two tables considering the amount of food we ordered. As you can see, the platter above plus our wines took up a whole table by itself. I’m not kidding when I say the tables are small…

2018-05-11 19.03.10 (640x640)We also had an Endive Salad ($10), a neat medium-sized bowl piled to the brim with slices of endives, hazel nuts, feta cheese and burnt honey. I don’t think I ever ate an endive in my iife but for this carnivore, this salad was one of the best “cow food” I’ve ever eaten. Crunchy, sweet, tangy and fragrant, just so many flavors in one dish.

2018-05-11 19.12.35 (615x640)Being a carnivore, I would have gone for the roast chicken item but at $50 and a whole chicken at that, there was no way the two of us could finish it. So instead we went for the Barramundi ($32) served with acid onions, leeks and salmarejo. The portion was so small – it was less than 2-in square – both of us were glad we didn’t order this as a main each! And the wood plate itself – gorgeous as it is – took up a quarter of the table! All said, the fish was very very well-cooked, thankfully. Soft, fresh and extremely tasty. For the price though, we could have order two or three other appetizers.

All in all, the quality of the food and the quaint ambience – dim as it was, I assume it’s brighter in the day – made Gemmills a nice experience. We were later told by the waitress that it’s managed by the same people who also runs Maggie Joan’s next door and Moosehead. Cool, two more places with good food (we assume) to try out in future then.

Gemmills is at 110 Amoy Street, #01-02 (entrance via Gemmill Lane). Opens 12nn-11pm (Mon-Thu), 10am-12mn (Fri) and 6pm-11pm (Sat). Closed on Sundays.