There’s no bad time for great tapas and cocktails, I say. And even though Ms Rona might’ve drained some of the joy of partying, for now, it doesn’t mean that you can’t still live it up with pals at your tableside. Lil’ Tiger along Robertson Walk is the cocktail scene’s latest addition, just shy of a month in operation.
A step into the little bar transports you to party, pleasure, as well as a certain intimacy of friends on a Friday night (but only in groups of eight though; we’re all responsible citizens in here).
What I tried
Working our way through the menu from the bottom up, a delightful Salsa & Chips (S$9) eases us into the evening, and tonight we have the privilege of giving the Guacamole (S$11) and Chili Con Carne (S$13) dips a go too, entirely thanks to the generosity of Lil’ Tiger’s restaurant manager, Shawn.
The table is split down into three camps about their favourite dip, so here’s assurance that you’ll be just fine and dandy closing your eyes, picking one, and running with it. It’ll be great either way.
One of my favourite things at any bar is a ceviche done right, and we’re graced with exactly that this evening. Plump, fresh tuna cubes sit alongside creamy diced avocado, and it takes me a hot minute to remind myself that the concept of courtesy exists and that no, it’s not okay to spoon everything onto my own plate.
The ceviche is not currently on the menu, but if you ask really nicely, perhaps you’ll get your go at the delicious mix. There’s not much convincing I’ll need to do for this one because the dish’s flavours speak for themselves, I only ask for one thing—that it becomes a permanent stay on Lil’ Tiger’s menu because it’s only right.
The “chicken” in the Chicken Fries (S$8) actually stems from the fact that it’s dusted with chicken skin seasoning, so before you go digging around for actual chicken chunks, don’t say I didn’t warn ya. A delightful switch from the perennial truffle fries, the chicken fries pack a whole lot of flavour, and is salted just enough to pleasantly balance the drink (or five) that you’ll be having.
If you’re starting with lighter drinks, a highball’s a great choice to ease yourself into it while you simultaneously lie to yourself that you’ll be stopping at just two drinks. The Callista (S$16) is a fragrant blend of vodka, grapefruit bitters, and elderflower tonic while the El Diablo (S$16) presents refreshing tequila, lime juice, crème de cassis, and ginger beer.
What I’m particularly excited about is the taco menu, which sees double-served tacos on 4-inch corn tortillas. Just for good measure, if anyone ever tells you that they “don’t do tacos”, drop them sis, and drop them fast. Because we all know that only monsters dOn’T dO tAcOs.
I came for the Pork Taco (S$15)—which is my go-to if carne asada isn’t on the menu that is, but what made me stay was the Chicken Taco (S$12). I know, I know, a controversial hot take on such pedestrian meat, but it’s hard to resist tender, well-executed chicken slices paired with a lovely spiced mayo.
The burger menu here at Lil’ Tiger is powered by the utterly loved Wildfire Burgers, so fans of the establishment here’s your cue for a little happy dance. Strap in, because there’s a lot going on with the Pulled Pork Burger (S$15); we’ve got Iberian black pork shoulder, smoked bacon, nacho cheese, sliced jalapéno, Spanish onions, and chipotle mayo wedged between toasted brioche buns.
Now wasn’t that a mouthful. You’d think that an ingredients list of that length would’ve resulted in unfortunate overcrowding, but amazingly, everything comes together fine and dandy, just like a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and season thirteen of RuPaul’s Drag Race. Right about now would be an opportune time to bring in the beers, and that’s exactly what we do.
The last time I managed to get my hands on a can of Fourpure Last Train Oatmeal Stout (S$15), it ceremoniously exploded in my kitchen at four in the morning which I had to clean up half-awake, so now that a second chance at giving this a try has fallen into my lap, I’m not about to let it pass me by.
Usually, the heaviness of a stout puts me off, but the smoky, earthy notes of tonight’s oatmeal stout are something I can get behind. I reach for it ever so often, rivalling my stout-adoring friend Jolene as she single-handedly polishes the pint. The Fourpure Juicebox IPA (S$15), conversely, is a light and refreshing blend that cuts nicely through the hearty, heavy meats you’ll be having all night.
My friend, Dhruv, automatically transforms into the ‘aight, I’mma head out’ meme the moment the Oven Roasted Greens (S$12) hit the table. Yes, poor vegetables get a lot more hate than they deserve, so I’m here to rally for their cause in solitary. Perfectly crunchy and thoroughly seasoned, this is probably the best emulation that my mother could’ve gunned for if she wanted me to eat my greens back in my childhood.
The barrel-aged cocktails section is what I like to deem the ‘serious business’ portion of the menu. And a brief scan through the ingredients will explain just why. The Hazelnut Drop (S$22); whisky, Frangelico, cacao, bitters is a safe, inoffensive choice, while the Orientalist Old Fashioned (S$22) is quite literally a spicy twist on a cocktail classic, graced by the likes of orientalist 8-year-old doublewood matured whisky, angostura, and spiced syrup.
Straight from the binchotan-fired Inka oven comes the Spider Steak Wagyu (S$26) and the Iberian Black Pork (S$32), both fired to a pleasant char. While the steak is typically done medium as per chef’s discretion, ours felt a little more like a medium-well and having a choice of doneness would’ve improved our experience just a bit. And though delicious, the chimichurri atop the Iberian black pork slices was just a tad bit distracting—each element scrumptious separately, but a little in competition alongside each other.
I apologise that I’ve waited this long before jumping into one of my favourites of the night. I typically avoid potatoes that aren’t in the form of chips, so the Rosemary Lard Roasted Potatoes (S$8) must’ve really blown me away for me to devour even the last bits, clutching tightly to the bowl until the very end.
Now that you’ve come clean with yourself and realise that you aren’t leaving having just gotten two drinks, give Lil’ Tiger’s signature cocktails a shot. In particular, we’d recommend The Grape Mistake (S$19) which presents tequila, kyoho, agave, lime, firewater, and my personal favourite, Rico Suave (S$19) made from gin, lavender tincture, mint, lemon, and sugar.
At long last, the Oven Caramelised Pineapple Vanilla Ice Cream (S$13) closes us off, and it’s just as toothsome as all the fare before it. Don’t write it off just because it’s currently the only dessert on the menu; it’s a pretty fantastic one at that in fact. The vanilla ice cream’s natural sweetness is perfectly balanced out by the sheer tartness of the pineapple slice, and all just feels right with the world when you’ve got something as divine as this combination.
Vera’s ‘Chef Kiss Award’
I thought especially long and hard for this one, and tonight’s winner goes to the Rosemary Lard Roasted Potatoes because there’s really nothing much else that rivals that burst of flavour as you spoon potato and lard chunks hurriedly and unceasingly.
In spite of its infancy, Lil’ Tiger is already banging out dishes of this level of delectability, so I’m doubly excited for what’s to come as their menu progresses and evolves. It’s definitely an establishment worth patronising and waiting on, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to say that my high hopes haven’t been let down.
Expected damage: S$28 – S$54 per pax
Price: $ $
Our Rating: 5 / 5
11 Unity Street, #01-07, Singapore 237995
11 Unity Street, #01-07, Singapore 237995