Tess Bar & Kitchen is the always-bustling, perennially fun filled spot you might have seen on Seah Street near Raffles Hotel. And with drinks from an award-winning mixologist, matched with trendy fare from a culinary heavy-hitter, it's easy to obsess over Tess.
Like any it-girl, or it-restaurant for that matter, Tess has a distinctive style, swagger and can back it all up with bona fide coolness. That confidence comes from tatted-up head chef Martin Wong, with L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon kitchen cred and whose expertise in fine dining and playful personality comes through in a variety of small, medium and large plates, which vary in fanciness, but all aim to satisfy.
Behind the bar, you can find the shaken-up creations of Steve Leong, the well-known finalist of Diageo Reserve World Class' Singapore 2013. That means that the cocktails are as fine as the dining at Tess, whether you go with old world classics or newfangled tipples. He's not alone in dreaming up drinks, however, as Tess plays host to the city's up and comers in the bar scene, in what turns out to be an open mic night of sorts, that the regular patrons, and there are a lot of them, love.
Settle into the hip, glowy space that's configured for optimal hanging out. From the menu, the Duet Scallop & Aburi Tartare shows off Tess' fancier side, with scorched meaty scallops played against a refreshing chopped tartare. Also from the small plates, the Crispy Pork Belly is simplistic in its flavour, served with a fusion dip, forming a savoury, finger-licking good dish. From the Medium Plates, the Tess Wagyu Cubes & Bone Marrow is a surefire winner, with pan seared cuts of beef glazed with veal jus and marrow, just in case you needed more of a meat hit.
It's not all about the carnivores, though, as a selection of cheeses and even Vegan mains (a rare sight at Singapore fine dining restaurants, let alone a bar) can satisfy meatless diners. From that section, the Bohemian Vegetables Love is a colourful tangle of grilled zucchini, capsicum, aubergine and a piquant red pepper coulis. Finally, from the limited selection of dessert, the Chocolate Fondant with Blueberry Compote shows that the kitchen keeps careful measure of foodie trends, with savoury elements of spicy apple crumble accenting the luscious classic cake.
In the end, it's not just the good looks and impressive resume at Tess that will have you coming back for more, but the rotating food and drinks menu of creative selections. In fact, you are sure to learn what other fans already know: when it comes to Tess, just say yes. (Dec 2014)
"Located in a quaint shop house along Seah Street (opposite Raffles Hotel), here's where you can savour Steve's award-winning bak kut teh-inspired Tanqueray No. 10 cocktail along with other creative concoctions. The bar also aims to be a platform for its team of young Asian mixologists to experiment and hone their craft, so you can expect nothing short of a casual, welcoming, and highly interactive experience." -Honeycombers
"Well for starters you may find it hard to find a seat, which is already the case at Tess Bar & Kitchen where Chef Martin Wong whips up gourmet bar bites and delectable dishes like the Tess Wagyu Cubes & Bone Marrow, and Steve Leong of Bitters & Love fame makes custom cocktails using premium spirits, juices, fruits and herbs." -Urban Journey
But we're perfectly happy with what we have - from the crispy-but-slightly-hard pork belly ($10) slices that you dip into chilli-enhanced kicap manis; deep-fried popcorn chicken-like karaage dusted with a spicy powder; full-bodied briny clams ($9) sauteed with a heady shot of booze set back by the too-hard baguette slices to dip into the salty sauce." -The Business Times
"The food is also no slouch. Besides well executed bar bites like crispy pork belly ($10), check out their beautifully plated fine dining-style dishes, including the duet scallop aburi carpaccio and tartare ($16) and even some vegan options (from $9)." -Time Out Singapore