It was love at first taste for Samuel Yeo, owner of F&B and nightlife group Imaginings in Singapore, when he took his very first sip of premium Belgian abbey beer Grimbergen. "I was blown away by the quality of the beers. The taste is undoubtedly exquisite, but these beers are also amazingly approachable," he had enthused.
And so enamoured he was with Grimbergen, that he built two new F&B concepts dedicated wholly to the brand in one laidback spot within the old Tanglin Post Office building. In fact, it's not just beers that take centrestage at these concepts (both 1128 and Nassim Hill serve three styles of Grimbergen -- Blanche, Blonde and Ambrée -- on tap); Grimbergen's flagship bar 1128 bears the Grimbergen brass emblem at storefront, while the interiors of Nassim Hill Bistro and Bar pay homage to the Grimbergen abbey with a trio of stained glass panels modelled after the originals at the abbey. If that's not dedication, we don't know what is.
What's the buzz: 1128 (or 'eleven twenty eight') takes its name after the year in which Grimbergen beer was established, and is refreshingly no-frills. It offers the three styles of Grimbergen on draught, alongside a comprehensive bar menu and ABSOLUT ELYX cocktails -- you can even try tapping the beer, with help from the staff, if you're so inclined.
Must-try: Absolutely nothing goes better with a fresh pint than some deep-fried grub, and 1128's bar menu gives the tired 'beer and wings' combo a local spin with mouthwatering snacks that could give some of the overpriced bar food in chi-chi alternatives a run for its money.
The Crispy Chicken Skin (S$10) is a dangerously addictive, pop-in-your-mouth dish that would have you polishing off the entire bowl sooner than you realise. Served piping hot and tender are the Pork Cubes (S$12), made even more delicious with a liberal dip into an accompanying chilli padi blended soya sauce. You could opt for the Chicken and Salted Fish Fried Rice (S$10) or Mee Goreng (S$10) for a fuller meal, but why would you when you could order another round of crispy Mutton Samosas (S$12), generously packed with fragrant mutton, peas and potato, or the Deep-Fried Wantons with prawns and minced pork (S$12). Wash it all down with a fruity Grimbergen Blanche, or the full-bodied Blonde (both S$10, 250ml) which has a spicier character with notes of cloves, fruits and honey.
Verdict: 1128's strategic location in a blessedly quiet corner of Orchard Road makes it our new favourite hangout spot. We can't get enough of the refreshing pints and delicious bites, but it's the rare peace that sealed the deal for us. Head down before the Orchard-goers get wind of this relatively still-secret hideout.
1128, #B1-02 Tanglin Post Office, 56 Tanglin Road, +65 6834 1128, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.imaginings.com.sg
Nassim Hill Bistro and Bar
What's the buzz: Multi-concept Nassim Hill Bistro and Bar lures early-risers with freshly-baked artisanal goodies crafted in its in-house bakery, before turning out its Grimbergen-inspired bistro menu and brunch favourites to the midday crowd. By dusk, the space is transformed into a convivial dining and beer-guzzling spot for yuppies.
Must-try: Head Baker Audrey Tan's (of the charming Freshly Baked by Le Bijoux) original Grimbergen Ambrée-infused bread creation (S$8 per loaf) is an intriguing mix of malty flavour, fluffy texture and Grimbergen Ambrée caramel aftertaste. On its own, the bread packs hearty wholemeal goodness, but Tan has cleverly paired it with chewy emmental cheese, savoury sauerkraut and onions and corned beef for a delicious Hot Reuben ($15) sandwich, a Nassim Hill signature. Brunch fiends would also delight in the Eggs Benedict (S$15) on white ciabatta, a lovely Artisan Bread Basket (S$6) with butter and homemade fig jam on the side, as well as the always-reliable cheese and charcuterie platter (S$22).
The highlight of the menu however: a Nonya Beef Tenderloin Curry (S$20), fiesty and deliciously aromatic enough to rival even its hawker centre counterparts, and repackaged for the more upmarket crowd in mind with the addition of luxurious cubes of beef tenderloin, freshly seared for a melt-in-your-mouth texture. Ask for more sliced baguette for dipping -- it's really the only way to properly enjoy the curry.
Verdict: For a place that's a semi-neighbourhood (albeit a prestigious one) joint , Nassim Hill Bistro and Bar is impressive with a well-executed menu that's all heart and quality.
Nassim Hill Bistro and Bar, #01-03 Tanglin Post Office, 56 Tanglin Road, +65 6835 1128, email@example.com, www.imaginings.com.sg