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Freehouse

Right at the middle of downtown is Freehouse, a bar opened in 2016 that “was birthed from a thirst that could only be quenched by good beer and cider”. With up to 16 rotating taps of craft beer (they’re usually almost at full capacity), you can be sure that you’ll only be thirsty for that guy/girl down the bar 😉 Situated in a shophouse in the Telok Ayer area, its intimate settings ensures you that there’s definitely “no strangers here”.

Week of the Dog at Freehouse

Yo Dawg, so I heard it’s the Year of the Dog, so Freehouse’s got some (hot)dogs at the week of the dog, so you can dog while you dawg!

Just over the last week, while basically half of the bars you frequent were closed over the Chinese New Year week, Freehouse started the year of the dog with a week long event starring their very own bar manager, Christian!

The Week of the Dog featured a special event-only menu made of gourmet sausages, corn dogs and more importantly (to me), TATER TOTS “smothered in homemade meat/beach chilli! With Christian in the kitchen (no sandwiches today), we devoured most of the brutally-named menu, such as the Brat-tallica, a Bratwurst topped with home-made braised red cabbage, Sauerkraut, Bacon, Hefeweizen Cheese Sauce, Spicy Mustard and Devil’s Ketchup; or if you’re in camp Dave Mustaine, there’s The Megadeth Corn Dog, that’s dipped in a special honey-infused buttermilk batter and deep fried to golden glory!

We also checked out good ol’ Trogdor the Burninator, our favourite strong-armed winged beast represented with Tater Tots smothered in molten Cheddar Cheese (that’s enough to make Torbjorn breathe heavily), Home Made Stout Bean/Meat Chilli, Srircha, Sour Cream and Devil’s Ketchup. Beware of the fire-breathing dragon!

No Strangers Here

Beyond the special menu for the week, Freehouse also offers a pretty wide range of bar snacks and dinner items (they’re usually not open for lunch). Favourites include the Cereal Frog Legs, Grilled Eggplant and Japanese Curry Fries just to name a few. Food menu may also change time to time, so find out the latest while you’re there!

Of course being one of the increasingly popular craft beer bar in Singapore, Freehouse offers a rotating selection of delicious craft beer from around the world, as mentioned previously having a capacity of 16 taps in full view of their white tiled display wall. New and seasoned craft beer enthusiasts are more than welcome, as your friendly neighbourhood bar guy Christian will surely put the right beer in front of you. Events and tap takeovers from particular breweries (such as the recent Battle Royale of Vietnamese breweries Pasteur Street and Heart of Darkness) also happen regularly, so be sure to like their Facebook page to keep yourself updated. For a good deal, head down to their Pint & Grub Mondays, where any pint with a side from a selected list go for only $20++!

 

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
Price:
Quality:
Overall:

More Information

Freehouse
21A Boon Tat Street
Singapore 069620
Email: info@freehouse.com.sg
Opening Hours: 5:00pm to 12:00am (Tuesdays to Saturdays), 3:00pm to 12:00am (Fridays only). CLOSED MONDAYS.
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Iza – Your Local Izakaya Bar

In collaboration with the guys from The Skewer Bar (TSB), Iza is a new Izakaya located in the rustic neighbourhood of Siglap in December 2017. Nestled along a cosy row of shophouses, the restaurant provides a relaxed and laid-back industrial setting against a backdrop of concrete floors and walls, exposed light bulbs and wood finishes.

If you’re already familiar with TSB’s no nonsense, delicious grilled skewers at their first outlet in Geylang, you’ll be pleased to find that Iza similarly serves a good mix of traditional kushiyaki skewers grilled to perfection, alongside creations that marry Japanese-inspired classics with local flavours.

Grill? Grill!

We were first introduced to the first of many local-infused classical Japanese dishes; the Four Ton Chawanmushi. Instead of boring mock crab fishcakes and mushrooms, this spinoff includes a bled of four different eggs: the usual chicken egg, together with century, salted and quail eggs. Despite being an appetiser, the loaded savouriness will already make you go u-mamamia! Other equally intriguing Singaporean-styled dishes include the Otah Tamago, the Stuffed Taupok Special (a TSB special; please try this) and their two Hae Bee Hiam (Shrimp paste) specials: the Onigiri and Spaghetti.

Not to forget in true izakaya fashion, Iza presents a wide array of well-marinated skewers grilled-to-order. From yakitori to yakiton, fresh seafood and grilled vegetables, you can be sure you’re not sacrificing quality for them being decently-priced. My recommendation is that you go in parties of 4 and above to ensure that you have enough stomach space to share as many items as you can!

Photo by Iza
Photo by Iza
Photo by Iza
Photo by Iza

Of course what’s an izakaya without good Japanese booze?  From Japanese craft beers to Dassai, Tengumai and Fudoh sakes, and Japanese whiskies, you can unleash your inner salaryman with a vengeance!

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s pretty easy to miss if you’re just passing by, and you may not even pass by this quiet part of the neighbourhood despite being along a ‘main’ road. Not that it deters many savvy foodies from patronising the row of restaurants and bars.

Price:
With skewers starting from just $1.90, you can be affirmed of their value for money.

Quality:
No-nonsense, on point grilled skewers made in full view through the glass window of the kitchen.

Overall:
Existing TSB fans would definitely recognise the quality of Iza’s food, with a more comfortable ambience. If you have never been one, no worries; you’ll have a grilling good time.

More Information

Iza – Your Local Izakaya Bar
695 East Coast Road
Singapore 459059
Phone: 6385 2883
Operating Hours: 4:00PM to 1:00AM Daily (Last Order 12:30AM)
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Bar on 5

Bar on 5 at Mandarin Orchard Hotel recently got us over one evening for a tasting of some whiskys. Set within the urban buzz, this chic and contemporary bar, situated at level 5 (hence the name) is a popular hang-out amongst sophisticated professionals, corporate business people, and trendsetters. There’s also a decent craft beer bar adjoining to the lounge, but that’s a story for another time.

Chivas Regal Mizunara Whisky

Debuting in Bar on 5, the Chivas Regal Mizunara blended scotch whisky is an award winning special by their Master Blender Colin Scott. With a part of the blend matured in rare Mizunara oak (Quercus mongolica) casks, it gives a unique sweet and creamy taste with hints of spice and hazelnut. Accompanied by Chivas Regal’s Whisky Sommelier, we were treated to a tasting session where any decent Scotch is enjoyed with a splash of water (and not copious amounts of sweetened drinks), and in this case with tulip glasses to fully enjoy the fruity aroma of peaches and pears. Paired with a selection of light canapés, we enjoyed every sip of the whisky.

Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard

Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard

Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve

As a bonus we were ALSO treated to another variety of Scotch, the Glenlivet Founder’s Reserve. Named for the distillery’s founder, George Smith, it’s a single malt Scotch that’s on the lighter end of single malts with generous aroma and taste of fruits. As their product manager calls it, ‘a good, gentle introduction to people who just started to enjoy single malt whiskys’.

Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard

Chivas Regal Mizunara Mandarin Orchard

I Think You’re Neat!

A short (heh, whisky pun) and simple evening, but we had a really fun experience of enjoying a couple of decent whiskys that will definitely leave a longer note. Currently they have offers for bottles of the Mizunara Oak (at time of writing the launch promotion is $460++ for 3 bottles), but do check it out at the bar as it may change time to time.

More Information

Bar on 5 @ Mandarin Orchard
Level 5, Mandarin Orchard Singapore
333 Orchard Road, Singapore 238867
Operating Hours
Sunday – Thursday: 11.00am – 1.00am
Friday, Saturday, Eve of Public Holiday: 11.00am – 2.00am
Phone: 6831 6286
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In Singapore, even as Singaporeans,  there’s a few things that grind our gears. The (sometimes overzealous) sun and heat, and never-ending crowds. Put both together and you got yourself a nightmare even the sandman can’t dust away. So one sweltering afternoon, as we were loitering around the Marina Bay Sands hotel and Gardens by the Bay while playing Pokemon Go (yes don’t judge, I want my pokedex ok), we wanted to find somewhere that we knew would be away from the throngs of visitors in the area.

26@Marina Bar & Bistro

26@Marina is a bar & bistro that took root (geddit) right at the far corner of Satay by the Bay; a good distance away from the tourist crowd in the Gardens. Being at the side means they’re shielded from the smoky satay and BBQ seafood fumes, and not to mention the hustle and bustle that comes with it. With ample seating, it’s great for one, or with your entire bike/e-scooter gang while you crack a cold one with the boys.

So anyway, after grabbing a pint of ice-cold beer to cool off the heat, I was introduced to one of their specialties the crispy pork belly (i.e. sio bak) salsa. While the pork has all the juicy goodness to match the crunch of the skin, the real hero of the dish IMO is actually the sambal chilli, which is V E R Y S P I C Y. PEDAS. 很辣. காரம். Do take it sparingly if you’re a ketchupboi/ketchupgal! By the way, the chilli (aptly named Woo-La-La! Sambal Belachan) is available for sale in bottles at the counter if you want… BUT BE WARNED.

Feeling really hungry, we went straight for the mains. A new creation of theirs at that time is a charcoal burger, served with a generous 180g beef patty, and a breaded portobello mushroom stuffed with cheddar cubes. That’s right, an entire portobello mushroom, not one of those uppity burger joint burgers that only have a few slices of mushrooms ‘for the flavour’. Dressed well in cheese and sauces, the beef is done properly (medium) and I can only complain that I don’t have mushroom left in my stomach after eating! There’s going to be more burger creations apart from this one, so be sure to check out their social media or their menu when you’re there! (Newly launched: Mushroom Swiss Burger & Double Cheeseburger, +$2 for truffle fries)

Despite being a casual diner in an al-fresco setting they take their food seriously. The U.S. pork chops that we ordered came along not overcooked (common gripe) and well-seasoned too!

26@Marina 26@Marina 26@Marina 26@Marina26@Marina 26@Marina26@Marina

Incoming Promotion!

In line with our 52nd National Day (SG52), 26@Marina will have a promotion from 3 August onwards! With any purchase of a gourmet burger (including the charcoal burger I ate, while stocks last) gets you a bottle of Tiger white (wheat beer)/black (dark lager) for just $5.20 (U.P. $8.50)! While stocks last!

Tiger Black White Promo 26@Marina

Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
It’s a bit far-flung from public transportation, but still rather accessible. We took an oBike here from MBS and it only took like 7-10 minutes? Also there’s free parking on weekdays for lunchtime (12-2pm)!

Price:
Standard bistro prices, about $20-30/person. Which isn’t bad considering it’s right next to Gardens, a major tourist attraction.

Quality:
Everything is freshly made, and by including an entire portobello mushroom that’s the same width of the burger patty, it shows they mean business!

Overall:
A nice change from the Satay (hence Satay by the Bay) and other overpriced local fare, you should come to this watering hole for a ice cold pint and that F-L-A-M-I-N-G HOT chilli!

More Information

26@Marina Bar & Bistro
18 Marina Gardens Drive
Satay by the Bay
Singapore 018953
Opening Hours: 11:30am to 11:30pm Daily
Reservations: 6702-0739
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“Nothing is more difficult, and therefore more precious, than to be able to decide.” -Napoleon Bonaparte

Burgers. Originally just served as a meat patty in Germany (Hamburg, hence the name to hamburger and then burger), the modern burger was debatably developed by a few different sources in early USA history, but one thing in common was the mobility and ease of mass production it brought. Especially to a fast-paced metropolis like the big apple: New York City (cue nasal voice), the land of opportunity.

Jolie Hwee

When not learning how to scalp (literally, guys) people on surgical tables, Dr. Jolie turns to looking for new places to dine at. Check out her Instagram!

So when told of a burger joint that’s so obscure it literally doesn’t even have a front display and entrance, she had to come take a look.

Burger Joint Singapore

Of Le Parker Meridien down 56th St, NYC fame, Burger Joint opened their first outlet in Southeast Asia down in the Telok Ayer/Amoy Street area. Why am I being so vague? That’s because instead of a prominent front display, it is actually situated in what could have been a kitchen/pantry/worker’s quarters in the early 20th century. To access it, you would have to go round the back, along Gemill Lane before you spot the ubiquitous neon burger sign plastered next to a inconspicuous door… only to go in and be greeted by a dark corridor lined with curtains, and yet another neon burger sign.

Once you (finally) reach the restaurant, you’ll be greeted with a familiar sight (if you’ve ever been to the one in NYC; I haven’t though): the worn-looking wooden furniture and walls in a dimly lit room. If you come in a group you can try your luck at one of the booth seats, but most are happy at the standing tables or even to chill at the bar, where they serve a decent spread of cold beer and good ol’ American whiskies.

Ordering a burger here isn’t… too many layers of work. You are free to choose whether you want a plain hamburger or load it up with cheese, bacon, jalapeno peppers, or all of the above! For best results, go for ‘the works’ when asked for your vegetables. But of course in a capitalist free world, more will cost you.

The burgers come wrapped in paper bags and perfectly grilled to your liking (medium rare’s great), and piping hot. Now chomp on to that freedom and opportunity all the way from the East coast!

Yes, the burgers are quite expensive. Yes, the servings are not exactly very big. But does it matter? Not really, when you have the freedom of choice. If you like what you’re getting, feel free to scribble your words of praise or greetings on literally any surface you can find (most people choose the walls though) too! Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
The only giveaway of any semblance of a restaurant is the neon sign in the door so yes, hole in the wall.

Price:
For prices starting at $17 excluding taxes, it is definitely on the steep side when it comes to burgers. You do get quality meat that is grilled to your liking though. BUT I only found out after that they actually are on the entertainer app, so you can bring a friend along, or simply take two burgers!

Quality:
I give credit that they make it up in quality, that their meat, vegetables and even buns are freshly made (buns are made in-house).

Overall:
A good concept with no-nonsense and no-frills food, but I probably will only come here once in a while if I were on a budget. I mean, we’re free to choose right?

Wishing all readers from the USofA a happy 4th July!

More Information

Burger Joint Singapore
115 Amoy Street
#01-03
Singapore 069935
(Entrance at back on Gemmill Lane)
Tel: +65 6221 8648
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You can’t go wrong with fish and chips. 

-Michael Sandel

Dive bars used to get a lot of stick back in the days for being shoddy; even the name supposedly comes from people diving under tables whenever a bar fight broke out!

Sam’s Cottage’s Fish & Chips

But nowadays, it’s a label for a place of quaintness and good ol’ get-together. It started with a simple wish from Mr Samuel Sam over 10 years ago: to have a place where people in the neighbourhood can get together. With blocks of condominium apartments all over the Dairy Farm Estate where his dive bar is situated, he feels that neighbours don’t interact with one another as often as they used to back in the ‘kampung’ days. Home to many is just a hiding place to rest before the next day comes. He also finds it a safer alternative to heading out for drinks and possibly driving to bars elsewhere; several years before the Upper Bukit Timah area is connected by train with the new Downtown Line, which only started operation in late 2015.

It was a weekday when I first visited and even then there were quite a few residents just enjoying a pint or having some of Sam’s signature menu item: Classic English Fish & Chips.

Sam's CottageSam's CottageSam's Cottage

Like at any respectable Fish & Chips place, you get the  food piping hot and wrapped up in white paper. The fish has nice golden-brown batter and fluffy white meat, and the chips are well, chips! These are best accompanied with generous sprinkles of salt and malt vinegar. Now, although you can’t beat serving traditional cod fish, his take on the dish is decently done.

Other than Fish & Chips, Sam’s also takes pride in having free Heineken beer on tap, which turnovers relatively quickly. Supposedly, no keg is left unfinished after 2-3 days, tops! Here’s Sam himself taking pride in serving only the freshest food and drinks to his loyal following of customers:

The place itself is a perfect example of what this website seeks out: a quaint place that’s serves really good food, has a good ambiance, and serves a really niche group of customers but definitely deserve a lot of attention. With seating for just over a dozen inside and a handful of tables in the alfresco, it can get quite bustling on weekends. The bar is also run in a very relaxed and open style. Sam shows a great affection to everyone, and remembers almost all their names!  If you’re lucky enough, you can challenge Sam to a game of darts or fuzzball. But don’t ever think that he’ll make it easy for you!

Sam’s carefree attitude to running the place is even more reflected, the bar’s opening hours are “when he comes” and closes “when he leaves” (translated: about 8pm to 12am, with some variance). But don’t even fret; Sam is honest and reliable to a tee and will always be ready to let you have a place to unwind, mingle and have great food!
Sam's Cottage Sam's CottageSam's Cottage

The Verdict

hole-in-the-wall-ness:
This place doesnt just feel hole-in-the-wall, it represents it!

Price:
Be prepared to shell out a little bit more for fresh food and beer, although it is not very big of a pinch

Quality:
Decent quality Fish & Chips and other finger food like chicken drumlets, with clean Heineken beer on tap

Overall:
If you’re not put off by the distance because you live in the #eastsidebestside, or you live in the west, it’s worth visiting what could be one of Singapore’s best dive bars, tucked away in a little corner called Dairy Farm Estate!

Sam's Cottage Fish & Chips

Bonus: Check out their 90s spot commercial below!

More Information

Sam’s Cottage
17 Dairy Farm Rd
Dairy Farm Estate,
#B1-09
Singapore 679043
Opens daily from about 8pm to midnight, or as Sam puts it: “Sam’s Cottage is open when he comes and closes when he leaves”.
Phone: 6766 3907
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/Sams-Cottage-169232239761773/


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