Tess Bar & Kitchen: Singapore Gastropub Review

“The Pumping Lounge”

tess bar & kitchen seah st

Nestled along Seah Street is the dainty Tess Bar and Kitchen, a European modern bar run by engaging managers that seem to bask in the pumping electro that the restaurant plays, bringing out the wild child in all.

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The interior of Tess is mostly industrial-chic in design with extensive contrast of concrete materials and black painted metal.

The dimly lit, no-frills bar sees a lengthy bar shelf racked with a miscellany of spirits that the in-house mixologist, award-winning Steve Leong, tinkers with each time to spontaneously produce bespoke cocktails for asking guests.

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Did you know that you can literally make your own cocktail behind the bar upon request? The bartenders will teach and guide you, but you’re gonna have to drink your end result too, just sayin.

Our first bespoke cocktail, which knows no name, looked like one potent demon, arriving grandly dressed in a flowery peacock blue:

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Monkey shoulder whiskey finds itself morphed into a medicinal-flavoured pink with the infusion of raspberry, lemon, and egg white. If you dig raspberry, perhaps you wouldn’t exactly use medicinal as an adjective. But that should speak adequately of how I feel for this concoction.

It’s most probably the raspberry infused liquer that’s producing this piquant flavour, but it tends to mellow out as we start feasting on the heavier mains.

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Wolf of Seah Street ($21++). Based on its name, this is clearly the signature drink at Tess. A pleasant sweet-sour fruitiness is exuded from this medley of vodka, very evident chrysanthemum, fresh lemon juice, ginseng, and homemade wolfberry syrup.

I cannot admit to it being anything but overly spectacular – much preferred over the first cocktail.

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CoCo No. 2 ($21++). A sharp coconut flavour predominates this mixture of Mount Gay Eclipse rum, pineapple reduction, and gula melaka. Served as a creamy white in a mini beaker, it was another hit amongst the tasters for its refreshing, tropical finish.

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At the back of Tess is an open kitchen where you can observe Head Chef Martin at work, plating the final touches to his gourmet creations. Let’s proceed to the food.

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Baby Octopus, Chorizo & Sundried Cherry Tomatoes ($9++). Appetizer was a refreshing peppered melange of slow-cooked baby octopus and chorizo. I enjoyed how chewy the entire dish was, and contend that it might be an excellent beer snack with its oceanic flavour mixed with the salty chorizo.

tess bar & kitchen salmon cubes

Crispy Skinned Salmon Cubes ($12++). I wasn’t too impressed with this pan-seared salmon, as save for the passion fruit crème (which I felt could be creamier to compliment the salmon), tasted like any homecooked salmon dish. The skin could have been crispier too.

tess bar & kitchen wagyu cube bone marrow

Tess Wagyu Cubes & Bone Marrow ($28++). The Waguu cubes, on the contrary to the salmon, is absolutely delicious. Seared and succulent wagyu cubes sit upon the huge rich bone marrow glazed in veal jus. One really cannot get enough of either component here, with bursts of beefiness and umami with each bite.

tess bar & kitchen braised beef cheek

Martin’s Slow Braised Beef Cheeks ($6++). Lotus and wolfberry are served with the extremely tender and juicy slow cooked beef cheeks, yet those Asian elements can hardly be appreciated enough for its sweet givings. Generally, the flavour of beef is sufficiently rich, and I find this a good buy for its offer. Cheers, Chef Martin.

tess bar & kitchen mushroom risotto

Mushroom Risotto ($22++). Much to our surprise despite its presentation, this risotto that emitted a pungent truffle aroma was brilliant. Al dente prepared arborio rice, copious truffle oil, and springy mushrooms blended with herbs also make this a must-try at Tess Kitchen and Bar.

tess bar & kitchen lamb rack

Frenched Lamb Rack ($36++). Tasty roasted vegetables the likes of sautéed brussel sprouts and braised cabbage lie on the underside of this seared New Zealand lamb rack that is tender and the slightest bit gamy but overcome with a nice char. It is possible, though, that it is a little pricey for the quantity, but we enjoyed this nonetheless.

It is sometimes appalling how wrong first impressions can turn out as we weren’t expecting much culinary quality at a bar along Seah Street. At Tess Bar and Kitchen though, I was pleasantly surprised, and for sure, would recommend this bar and kitchen to those ready for a casual night out, made even more wonderful with its chirpy servers as well.

Expected damage: $35 – $50 / pax

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Tess Bar & Kitchen: 38 Seah Street, Singapore 188394 | Tel: 6337 7355 | Website