Club 39: Tapas and cocktails in a private club

CLUB 39 is a members-only private club. But it also boasts a modern tapas and cocktail bar on the ground floor that’s open to the public. Yay… we think

Welcome to the Club
Welcome to the Club
14 Jul 2015

Welcome to the Club

Joining the watering holes around Duxton Hill is this four-storey refurbished shophouse... or at least only its first floor, which consists of a restaurant and cocktail bar. The other three levels make up a members-only private club that comes with a gym, a lounge and private dining room, catering to "Singapore's taste-makers".

If you happen to know one of the 39 anonymous “ambassadors” from various creative fields, you might gain access here, but if you’re a pleb like us, then the modern Italian restaurant-cum-cocktail bar, called Club 39, on the ground level, will have to do.

The look and vibe
The look and vibe
14 Jul 2015

The look and vibe

We were given an exclusive tour of the private club area upstairs and while it looks smart with plush vintage leather sofas in the lounge and a little office to do work in, it all feels rather clinical, like a condo clubroom. In any case, we're there to check out the 40-seater resto-bar, where the décor is also unfortunately cold and plasticky, with odd touches like an unattractive snowflake-like light feature on the main wall. Other than that, it's mostly bare. Grab a seat at the busy, warmly-lit bar, probably the most inviting spot in the house.

This place seems to want to be everything. Blasting thumping clubby music, it’s an uncomfortable mash-up of an intimate cocktail bar, sit-down restaurant and dance club (though we’re told there’s no dancing here). The small crowd on our visit was a mix of expats, young local execs, and one confused 8 DAYS writer.
 

The booze
The booze
14 Jul 2015

The booze

The barkeep is Mark Graham Thomas, 30, former head bartender of Bacchanalia. We were excited about the bar’s house-made bitters, syrups and home-infused rums, but found the drinks quite disappointing overall.

The Negroni Chiaro (left in picture, $25) fares best. A lightweight white Negroni with vermouth and dashes of rhubarb bitters and orange blossom water that replace the usual Campari. It’s pleasantly floral, with a slightly bitter herbal finish. But the house signature, the Trentanove (right in picture, $28), made with gin, orangey Aperol, prosecco and a garnish of grilled lemon, is candy-sweet and fruity, almost like a soft drink. The promising-sounding Daiquiri Salato ($26) is built on pineapple, dashes of aged balsamic vinegar and home-made jamon-and-bacon infused rum, but the cured meats render an almost waxy tinge that sits oddly with the drink’s citrus flavours. 

The bites
The bites
14 Jul 2015

The bites

The food at the full-day restaurant within the same space is pretty decent. Chilean chef Rodrigo Guerrero, 34, formerly of gastrobar 63Celsius at Asia Square, turns out simple and elegant small plates with “Italian-influenced, Spanish and Chilean touches”. But, they seem more like just modern Spanish tapas to us.

We loved the Grilled Octopus (pictured above, $25), tender and smoky slices dotted with salmon roe on a bed of buttery pureed potato, all drizzled with punchy chorizo oil. The plain-looking Iberian Pork Burgers ($17 for two), filled with rich, tender patties laid over piquant grilled piquillo peppers and mildly sweet apple aioli, are delicious.

39 Duxton Hill, S089617. Tel: 6221-4235. Open daily. Mon-Fri 8.30am-midnight; Sat-Sun, 10am-midnight. Last orders 15 min before closing. www.theclub39.com
 

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