Co-owners Julina Halim and Alfred Toh have done a great job with the interior of Bukit Timah’s latest gastrobar, giving their restoration hardware a utilitarian-chic overhaul – think copper-lined door handles, Prohibition-era sconces, construction lights and a corner bar sheathed in brushed aluminium, with a vintage camera and sewing machine enclosed in a glass case.
The other good thing here is the drinks. Toh used to be a sales manager at Asia Pacific Breweries (of Tiger fame), and the range of three craft beers on tap and 28 by the bottle are extensive and well priced – $8 for a Steinlager or Bitburger. The ciders are as good, with Pipsqueak ($9) and Kopparberg ciders in flavours such as lime or pear and elderflower ($8-$9).
Most of the food, sadly, doesn’t quite hit the mark, except for the moist mini burgers ($14), perfectly plump beef patties with tomato and relish. The burger can be ordered with a chicken patty, or upsized to a main portion ($16) – it’s all good. Less successful are the fried and battered dishes – over-fried crispy golden chicken ($14), and bacon tempura ($12) and fish and chips ($18) that are both let down by thick, limp batter.
After trying the bland prawn olio ($20) and overpriced apple crumble ($14) in a foil cup, it became clear that the best bet here is still the beer-and-burger combo. If you do that, this is actually a pleasant place for a drink, which rates better if you take the ‘gastro-’ out and just consider it as a bar. Jon Cheng