We all have bad days at work. You know what I mean. Days filled dealing with self-serving, obtuse lunkheads whom you’d rather be smacking in the back of the head with a baguette rather than working with. Days filled with interminably long meetings going nowhere that make a 10 hour layover in Los Angeles International Airport (which is actually just long enough to clear immigration and customs) feel like a trip to Disneyland. Days filled with such agonizingly boring and meaningless paperwork that you feel like an extra in Terry Gilliam’s classic cult-film Brazil. Days that make you want to throw open your boss’ door and slam that resignation letter that you’ve had sitting in your top drawer for three months already right on his table. And then tell him what you really think of him. On all of these days, the best medicine is often a good, stiff drink.
We all have favourite bars. Over the years, I have certainly had my share of preferred places for a post-work tipple. When I was younger, the most important criteria were good, cold drinks and a cool, happening scene. These days, while I still look for places that serve good booze (well-made cocktails, good wines by the glass and a good selection of beers), I’m not one for crowded meat markets. I like bars that are quiet enough to talk in, have good service, and offer some really tasty bar snacks. The last criterion is the subject, as I am sure you’ve gathered by now, of this post.
Two relatively new bars that serve some pretty fine food are Muse, at the National Museum of Singapore, and Wild Oats, on Wilkie Road. I should admit that my wife S and I worked as consultants for the owners of Muse during its pre-opening stage. But while we helped Muse’s chef, Iskandar Latiff, develop his menu, the quality of the food is entirely due to this young chef’s passion and talent. Muse is great for an after-work snack, when it’s still relatively quiet (i.e. before the hordes of sportscar-driving hipsters pack the place). Between 4-7pm nightly, your first round of drinks comes with a complimentary order of French Fries. Plus, the short-skirted waitresses regularly offer free special evening tapas. One of my favourites is Chef Iskandar’s Laksa Burritos. These bite-sized fusion spring rolls are super tasty; plus each one comes with a hidden hard-boiled quail’s egg.
In addition to the free treats, there’s also a pretty cool bar food menu. S’s favourite dish is a Duo of Mini Burgers with Cheddar Cheese, Crispy Onions and Horseradish Sauce. These palm-sized burgers are really, really delicious. They’re also already Chef Iskandar’s top-selling menu item. Also fantastic and worth trying are the Trio of Bar Sandwiches with Spicy Corned Beef, Sardines and Ham & Cheese; and the super-sexy and luxe Lobster Nachos. We love going to Muse for a drink and a bite; a plate of sandwiches, a platter of lobster nachos or two mini burgers and a cool cocktail make a really nice light dinner.
Any regular reader of this blog knows that I am a huge fan of Chef Willin Low and his cute and casual restaurant, Wild Rocket. Three months ago, and in the building just next door, Chef Willin opened a cool drinking spot amusingly named Wild Oats. Wild Oats has both a pretty retro-chic indoor space and a nice al fresco deck. It also sports a small but fun menu offering parmesan-crusted chicken wings served with either chilli sauce or cheese sauce; three different kinds of hot dogs; feta cheese wontons; and wasabi prawns. At present, the chicken wings are the bar’s best-selling item. S and I liked them a lot. They were really nice and crispy, but also moist and juicy. Perfect with a beer or one of the bar’s signature cocktails.
Chef Willin is particularly proud of his hotdogs, which are grouped on his menu as “hot bitches”. Each one is actually named after one of Chef Willin’s real dogs. Buffy is a pork dog with a spicy beef sauce and creamed peas. Dizzi (which was our favourite) is another pork dog topped with caramelized onions and English mustard. Sassy is a beef dog topped with sun-dried tomato salsa and an Italian cheese sauce. Wild Oats is a nice place to head after a tough day of work. Sitting on the deck, sipping an icy-cold pear cider, you could even forget you’re in Singapore. The bar has a great chilled-out vibe which is guaranteed to calm you down and make you forget whatever it was that was annoying you just a couple of hours earlier.
National Museum of Singapore, 93 Stamford Road, #01-01
Tel: +65 6337 9000
11 Upper Wilkie Road
Tel: +65 6336 5413