03 May 2016
Quietly taking over the former premises of Italian restaurant, Otto (which has relocated to Maxwell Chambers around the corner), at Red Dot Museum is this three-month-old bar and eatery, opened by first-time business owner Goh Peng Yu, 28, a former bartender and operations manager at Ce La Vi in Marina Bay Sands. At first glance, Urban Saloon appears like your run-of-the-mill watering hole, but there are surprisingly good cocktails and decent grub here — think a slightly more grown-up alternative to funky Singapore-influenced cocktail bar, Hopscotch, on the other side of the building.
THE LOOK & VIBE: There’s an al fresco section with bar stools and high tables, and a cosy if plain lounge area indoors with low tables and plush leather sofas. We think the best seats are at the small six-seat bar near the entrance of the indoor area. It has an intimate Japanese cocktail bar feel with its romantic dim lighting and handsome wood and marble trimmings. On our two visits, the place was quiet, with just a handful of office execs. Despite its jarring house music soundtrack, this turns out to be a nice place to get a few unhurried drinks and some dinner — we prefer eating outdoors on the high tables because the lounge tables are a little too low. If you’re looking for something a little more upbeat, hang around on weekend nights: a tiny adjoining dance club called Mayhem, also owned by Peng Yu, opens till late. But it’s members only, for “friends of friends,” as Peng Yu puts it, unless you want to splash out $1,000 for a table reservation.
03 May 2016
The cocktails, made by head bartender, Sly Fu, 26, a shy barkeep formerly from Ce La Vi, are quite impressive. There are a total of 17 signatures, a mix of classics and new creations. We’re told the bar is slowly collecting a selection of bourbons (American whiskies distilled from maize and rye), with an aim to release a bourbon-forward menu. So far the range is still quite small, with common ones like Jim Beam alongside more unfamiliar labels like Four Roses, a small batch bourbon from Kentucky and High West from Utah.
We ask for two classic bourbon cocktails, and get a very good Whisky Sour ($22) made with Maker’s Mark bourbon from Kentucky, lemon juice, a touch of vanilla syrup and a cap of egg white foam. It’s super smooth and buttery, with a hefty spiced punch from the bourbon. Also good if a little diluted is the Manhattan ($25), shaken with a blend of High West, Maker’s Mark and Four Roses bourbons, plus vermouth for a strong hit of spice, caramel and vanilla. For non-bourbon lovers, there’s the floral Mdm Grey ($22), made with vermouth, ginger beer, lemon juice and earl grey tea-infused gin. It's delicate and fragrant, like a very boozy iced tea.
03 May 2016
The food here is your regular Western fare, but it’s tasty. The Double Cheese Bacon Burger ($16) is pretty satisfying, with nicely seared beef patties, bacon and lots of melted cheddar, served up with tangy relish. The light nibbles are also rather good, like the bouncy Garlicky Spicy Prawns ($18) slicked in fragrant, chilli-spiked oil.
Red Dot Design Museum, 28 Maxwell Rd, S069120. Tel: 9188-9885. Open daily except Sun. Mon-Thur 5pm-1am; Fri-Sat 5pm-3am. www.facebook.com/urbansaloonsg