Here’s a recipe for the attention of the foodie sphere: Open an unstuffy wine bar –name it after a David Bowie song for cool cred, hire the ex-sous of Burnt Ends, and stock it with everything from cult Japanese natural winemaker Beau Paysage to decades-old vintage Bollinger. While its opening was stalled by the Circuit Breaker, Rebel Rebel is now in full swing, with the kind of trendy menu that begs to be foodie-splained to non-eaters. There’s a bit of nose-to-tail (spicy, tangy pig’s head tagliatelle); a bit of Asian influence (an otah-like prawn and uni paste toast); and technique (pork fat, whipped like butter and cut with honey and toasted grains). Head chef Deborah Yeo knows what she’s doing though – we’re fond of the pink-inside quail, which is lightly spiced with cumin and paprika and comes with a bread sauce; as well as an expertly constructed octopus plate balancing olives, sundried tomatoes, coriander, and green chillies. Sommelier Miku Yamagishi has a terribly infectious enthusiasm – and has recommendations for everything from natural Bordeaux (not an oxymoron!) to super glou-glou Japanese vino made from Delaware grapes – a fruit that’s largely a table grape outside of Japan.
From the same people who brought you Employees Only, Bang Bang, and Papi’s Tacos comes Bar Milano, an intimate 38-seater slinging aperitifs and Italian bites. It might be the pedigree, but Milano is the kind of place that encourages more than one drink – thanks to a decidedly fun atmosphere and alcohol-friendly food like pork-stuffed deep fried olives and fritto misto. A highlight is the pizza fritta, or deep-fried pizza, which comes with toppings like mortadella with pistachio pesto and stracciatella; or truffled mushroom with smoked ricotta, and a fried egg. Spritzes are the name of the game here, with selections like the Rinomato Spritz, which features Rinomato – a modern-style aperitif formulated by bar legend Giancarlo Mancino – London dry gin, prosecco, and housemade rosemary and black pepper tincture. Save space for the dessert-like Spiked Frappuccino, which we’ve heard described as a “boozy liquid tiramisu”.
Madame Fan has hatched a brilliant idea: dim sum brunch paired with cocktails. Then again, few Chinese restaurants come attached with its own craft cocktail bar. Dig into unlimited servings of modern dim sum creations, like black truffle wild mushroom dumplings or classics like shumai, while indulging in one of head bartender Davide Boncinimo’s cocktail creations.There’s the Yu Cha, a spirit-forward drink with gin, shiso vermouth and green tea liqueur that bridges the gap between brunch drinking and the tradition tea one gets with dim sum. The brunch also includes free-flow wine and beer; add Champagne to the mix for an additional fee.
Legendary Brooklyn pizzeria Lucali — the very same one that appeared on an episode of Netflix’s Ugly Delicious — has launched a sister restaurant here in Singapore in a collaboration between chef Mark Iacono and Singapore-based hospitality consultant Gibran Baydoun. We could name drop for days with this opening, but the deal is: no frills New York-style Italian food done in a hipper-than-thou setting and one of the more interesting wine programmes we’ve seen in a while. We dig the properly spicy rigatoni with vodka sauce; aged country ham (from Kentucky’s Newsom’s); and boldly-dressed caesar salad, which comes with some of the best croutons we’ve ever had. The vaunted pizza, with its “four-hour tomato sauce” can be divisive – its almost cracker-like base, slightly sweet sauce, and three cheese mix might not be converting the Neapolitan fans anytime soon. The true star of the joint though, is the wine selection. Bottles lie in drink fridges and are categorised by price, each with a roughly equal number of labels. This means no fretting about ordering that proverbial “second cheapest bottle” since there are options in every price range – from fun cartoon-on-label pet nats, to date night (middle of the road, not inexpensive, easy to understand) bottles, and – if one is splurging – big ticket items like Sassicaya. Banging playlist that will please even the music nerds.