Monday, April 02, 2012

Review: Club Street Social

Before we start, let me preface this review by saying that the owner-operator Min Chan is a friend and lovely girl. I don't think that makes me biased about the food or the establishment but it's also her birthday today so wouldn't it be great to send some culinary love her way?

Min used to work with Aun Koh, aka Chubby Hubby, and the eye for detail and knack for good food is apparent at Club Stret Social. The way the small space has been outfitted is just gorgeously evocative, the floor is tiled mosiac, the bar counter heavy volakas marble, the fair-faced brick wall gives way to cafe tables and chairs shrouded in the shadows of French iron wrought lamps. Tucked away on the quieter Gemmill Lane, it is the cooler, shadier cousin to the expat-heavy and mass-franchise driven Club Street. The quiet is reminiscent of the speakeasies of East Village or Chelsea.

Min says Club Street Social’s design is an amalgamation of design features from her favorite restaurants and the cocktails are inspired by legendary bars. The restaurant is just a stone's throw away, across the street from the upscale chowderhouse Luke's, but seems born of the same hip, city genre. When we arrived for dinner, I was a bit sceptical, Club Street Social has the same quaintness as King Street Cafe in Perth at night, and is the size of the bar area at L'Artusi in the West Village- I could imagine it packed to the brim, three-deep with a Saturday night drinking, pre-Filter crowd but what would the food be like?

As it turns out, the food is well-made with incredibly fresh ingredients and as trendy as the beautiful people slouched over the cafe counters. The menu specializes in sandwiches, crispy crostini, tramezzini and hot, toasted panini. We tried the salads ($15), grilled rib eye panini ($28), the proscuitto panini (S$16) and the lobster panini with yuzu mayo($28); they were amazing. Crispy, tasty bread, laced with huge chunks of ingredients and moist, juicy fillings. The premium paninis are particularly out-of-this-world, if I close my eyes, I can still imagine the burst of savoury flavour from the caramelized garlic and the smooth richness of the fontina on the tender ribeye, it was a lovely taste experience. The paninis are also a much better deal than the goat's cheese crostini, which is excellent but a tad pricey at $10 for 3 small slices.

You can also get the sinful bacon, egg and maple butter panini (S$14) and ciabatta toast with mascarpone cream (S$9) as an all-day breakfast item, which I would definitely come back for. The other stars are the cocktails, they are just labelled No. 1, Two, 3rd and so on but you can also get the bar staff to concoct a special for you. I thought at first glance that the bartenders were from Klee but was doubly impressed when Min told us that she trained all of them from scratch; none of them had ever worked in a bar before. The drinks are formulated to introduce some new tastes and sexy alcohols, #4 for example, is rye italian vermouth and vegemite, the #7 is a cognac, with bacon, date and walnut. The spiked pitchers are mixed with gin, lemongrass, galagal and pineapple, or cognac with red wine, nutmeg and ginger ale, like a festive wintry sangria.

Drinks are $16 for a cocktail and $49 for a spiked pitcher. The prices are a little steep if you're looking for a full dinner meal but not generally out of place for the area. Min has other partners but from what I can see, is extremely hands-on in the design, service and administration of the bar and food. Bring your most deserving friends and make her day by paying her a visit!

Club Street Social
5 Gemmill Lane
069261 Singapore

* Pictures from TimeOut Singapore via

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