The folks at Out of Office Asia continue to hunt for the best bar in Singapore… If you ever wander around the conserved shophouses in Singapore’s Civic District, you might come across a few small lanes of roads sandwiched by beautiful historical shophouses. Seah St and Purvis St, in particular, have rows of beautiful shophouses that are adaptively re-used as restaurants and bars in this neighbourhood known for designer cocktails and great grubs.
Housed in a former conservation shophouse along Seah St, Tess Bar & Kitchen features an open space plan design with a sense of modern industrial chic. This makes the space ideal for lounging and mingling among small groups.
Re-defining Drink-centricity in a Drink-centric District – Seah St
Tess bar is helmed by Mr Steve Leong, an award-winning bartender, who is well known not just for his modern classics but as well as his bespoke cocktails for those who want to let go of control once in a while. The floor area is organised into intimate spaces where parties of 2-4 can enjoy their cocktails and engage in good conversation.
We had the Moshi-moshi (S$28), a cocktail that is made with Nigori Sake as its base. Made with Japanese cucumber, grapes, and fresh lemon juice, this cocktail has just the right amount of sweetness and is very refreshing. Definitely, a good drink to start the night with.
The Nasi Lemak Cocktail is a special drink that only the rare few lucky get to try. It is made with Gin as its base spirit, fresh lemon, barley, coconut water, and pandan syrup. The glass is laced with sambal sauce (chilli sauce) and ikan billis (small fried fish) in banana leave is added into the cocktail like a kachiam putih.
The drink is savory and is super tasty. And it must be drunk together with the ikan billis. This drink was first introduced during the Singapore cocktail week and was brought back into the bar by due to popular demand.
Drink-centric but Food-centred Seah St Kitchen
The kitchen at Tess is ruled by their Head Chef, Mr. Martin Wong, previously from L’Atelier de Joel Robuchon. He creates a wonderful mix of of modern European fare with a tinge of Asian influences. The dishes are suitable for both intimate and small gatherings, as well as larger crowds. As a bar, Tess does not ignore the importance of good food that goes very well with the alcohol.
The Baby Octopus with Salami is only S$10 and is a very tasty starter to share among friends. The salami provides a deep and rich taste to the entire dish while the octopuses has a chewy texture and is flavourful in itself.
The clams are really quite a steal at S$12 and is served together with very locally baked french loaf or locally known as jiamtouloti so that you can soak up the wonderful clam sauce. The seasonings conferred some solid flavours and effectively brought out the clams’ taste.
The bone marrow is considered a delicacy but might be too weird for some. The Bone Marrow dish at S$26, however, have chunks of beef as well as bone marrow, making it a very convenient sharing dish for bone marrow lovers and non-lovers alike. The beef and marrow are infused with a cocktail of flavours as well that pairs very well with a strong cocktail.
A visit to Tess must be accompanied by the Pork belly dish (S$11) that is oh so extremely crispy. It tastes just nice without being overpowering / GerLah. The racks of pork served to you are triple cooked and pairs amazingly well with drinks.
Last but not least, the cheese and salami platter is the perfect pairing to a nice cocktail and suitable for party of 2 or more. Personally, I love this dish. Something to note though, the description of this dish on the menu says that the cheese is delicate. I do think the texture is very delicate and soft but the flavours is strong and powerful and is meant for serious cheese lovers. At S$18, it is a fantastic dish to end your meal with.
If you are looking for a nice place to relax and have a few foods and drinks, keep a look out for Tess Bar & Kitchen along Seah St.
Quality of food: 7/10
Value for money: 8/10
Tess Bar & Kitchen (Map)
38 Seah St
Mon to Thurs 1130am to 1am
Fri 1130am to 2am
Sat 5pm to 2am
[Happy hours 11am to 7pm]
Tel: +65 6337 7355
Nearest station: City Hall MRT