Situated just a few units away from SELA is Tess Bar & Kitchen, a gastropub which seems to be rather under the radar even among my foodie friends, despite that it has already been in operations for a couple of months.
Who's Tess? Where's Tess? Find TESS at Thirty-Eight Seah Street :p
The convenience of its location (opposite Raffles Hotel), plus the lure of having ice cream at the nearby Rabbit Owl Depot as part two of our evening plans made my friends and I decide on Tess as the meeting place to begin with some light dinner and drinks. It turned out to be a very delightful choice! :D
Tess describes itself as having a drink-centric but food-centred concept with a focus on a modern interpretation of cocktails and food. The credentials of the men behind its bar and kitchen are impressive to match. Steve Leong is an award-winning bartender, while head chef Martin Wong is an alumni of L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon (another restaurant on my wishlist!).
My friends and I are not much of drinkers unfortunately, sticking to safe glasses of "fermented grape juice", and gave the cocktail offerings a miss. On hindsight, we should be more adventurous and ask for their signature fruity tequila-based Berry Berry Nice, quirky Bak Kut Teh cocktail (BKT!!!), or be surprised by a bespoke concoction. Okay, next time!
What holds in greater appeal to
The menu features a combination of "small plates" tapas-style dishes, charcuterie, vegan selection, cheese platters, and heavier "medium plates" like Tess Wagyu Cubes & Bone Marrow ($28), Mushroom Risotto ($22), as well as "large plates" of Angus Prime Rib (1.2kg, $145) and Baeckeoffe ($98), a traditional French stew of lamb, pork, beef with vegetables and white wine served in a cast iron pot.
Our group of 3 decided to go light with just an order of a few small plate items, but it all added up quite substantially. The pieces of Crispy Pork Belly ($10) were adequately tender with a nice crackling, equally addictive were the Triple Truffle Frites ($10) which came whiffing with the subtle scent of truffle oil embracing a trio of deep-fried Yukon, Idaho and sweet potatoes chunks. I love sausages but the Homemade Irish Pork Sausages ($9) did not resonate with me as I prefer a firmer and bouncier bite.
The seafood choices were delectably good: Sea Bass ($12) was simply seared and paired with momotaro tomatoes and arugula. Tiger Prawns ($15.80) in herb garlic butter were fresh and burst with juiciness. The Sautéed Clams ($9) cooked in white wine, fennel, garlic and chilli was something which all of us totally relished in and would certainly order again. Its taste was full bodied albeit a tad saltish, but that's what made it a perfect accompaniment to our drinks too.
Pricing is overall easy on the wallet, service was friendly and efficient, food was more hits than miss and considering the quality rendered, there is really no valid reason for any complaints. In fact, we were all so comfortable at our table in the dimly-lit lounge area that I would have chosen to chill there all night at Tess if not for prior plans.
Tess, oh yes your dark, chic, minimalist space is quite a stunner too, and not at all pretentious. I like you!
Tess Bar & Kitchen
Address: 38 Seah Street, Singapore 188394
Contact: +65 6337 7355
Opening Hours: Mon-Thu 11.30am-1am / Fri 11.30am-2am / Sat 4.30pm-2am / Closed on Sun