Hotel bars get a bad rap because they’re usually opened simply for the sake of the hotel having one. And if the establishment caters to business travellers who need a quick drink before bed, they’re also usually known for dull and jet-lagged clientele.
Here to change that perception is J’s Bar Bistro at The Royal Garden hotel. Recently converted from a banquet hall on the second floor, this hot new hang-out has plenty of elbow room. Round filament light bulbs on a panelled ceiling emulate a 1920s speakeasy. Combined with marble tabletops and fish-bone-patterned flooring, it’s easy to imagine you’re at a classic gentlemen’s club.Curiously colourful – the ladies’ corner
What’s curious are the names of the private areas, tucked away from the main bar. There’s one decorated with books that’s called the “gentleman’s corner” and another adorned with colourful animal artwork and portraits that goes by the “ladies’ corner”. While we think any a lady will enjoy a good book and many a gentleman can appreciate art, these private booths are overall aesthetically pleasing and offer little enclaves for larger parties to gather.
True to the spirit of The Royal Garden, food is an important aspect of their outlets and J’s is no exception. The menu’s line-up of hearty snacks includes pan-fried scallops with cauliflower and caviar and mini Wagyu beef burgers, but what caught our attention was the cheese counter. Jet fresh from France every week, wheels and wheels of cheese are on display and cheese platters start at a very reasonable $180.
Signature cocktails include Colonel’s Last Laugh ($108), a mixture of aged rum, Rosso vermouth and Ardbeg scotch. We’re sad to say this drink was a little underwhelming. From the description, we were expecting something to warm us up, but somehow the complexity you’d expect from a medley of rum, vermouth and whisky just didn’t quite pack the punch.
Next, we tried Ilsa Lund ($138). Garnished with a single rose petal, this concoction was a harmony of rose and lychee liqueur accented with a hint of strawberry. The glass was rimmed with desiccated coconut, and the result was somewhat like a lychee and rose version of a pina colada, conjuring up images of the tropics and romance. We guess it’s no accident that this cocktail is named after the female protagonist of the classic film Casablanca.
I really enjoyed the sophisticated atmosphere at J’s Bar Bistro. The food menu made me hungry, and I’m looking forward to trying the exciting line-up of fromage that hits the cheese counter every day at 4pm. This is much more than your run-of-the-mill hotel bar, worth a visit for the food and drink alone. To be honest, they had me at the word cheese.
2/F, The Royal Garden, 69 Mody Road, TST East, 2733 2088
This write-up is based on a complimentary media tasting provided in exchange for an honest review and no monetary compensation. The opinions expressed here represent the author’s.