Sometimes going out for a night means going to more than one place.
After all, who wants to park on a barstool for 6 or 7 hours looking at the same people meandering to and fro? So I set out to create an evening of diverse amusements. Step one was arranging the cast:
Two whipsmart divas, Kris and Farah, and Pete, our designated driver in a silver Benz. Our night was set. We started out at the newly opened The Tapas Tree at Clarke Quay. A sultry-yet-affordable Spanish style eatery featuring a variety of Latin foods and the perfect Sangria.
Did I mention the designated driver? The girls and I dove headfirst into the extensive wine menu, then got into the appetizers. We started with a Gambas al Ajillo (sauteed prawns in garlic and olive oil - $12).
The portions ARE big, from the regular entrees to the paellas which can be cooked for two, four or six people, (priced between $25 and $70). We bantered with the owner Clark Martin, and shared plates of Croquetas de Pollo (chicken croquettes - $8.80) and Salpicado (beef tenderloin chunks in spicy oil and garlic - $15).
This isn't your average Spanish Cuisine, but Manila inspired. The flavours are complex and the presentation artful. The room makes you want to dress up a bit - though it's not a jacket and tie required sort of place, a Mao jacket would not be out of the question. The third jug of Sangria finished off dinner nicely, and we were all feeling very very satisfied.
Pete suggested we walk over to his new favourite night spot, Gotham Penthouse. Dark and moody and promising fun in secret corners, we made our way up the stairs through the construction (they're expanding downstairs) and into a cavern of sexy girls and hungry eyes.
The huge ceilings spoke of days gone by, when elegance was a part of downing mouthfuls of cold liquor and toasting each other in the tongues of the well-travelled. Sadly, those days are long gone, and I toasted its passing with a vodka martini seasoned with lemon juice and gave my entourage a hearty gan bei!
The ambiance of the room can be a bit offset when it's crowded, and on the weekends it's always crowded. I recommend getting there early to get a prime spot at the bar or in one of their luxurious corner seats. Black-shirted barmen gave up their libations with a smile, and you get the glass and the shaker when you order up. If scotch is more your taste, they have an excellent list but be prepared, good scotch comes at a hefty price.
Then again, that's true of most Singapore bars, but few can serve up the ambiance of this flagship of yesteryear. We indulged in several rounds and discussed yachting and the demise of communism. Soon our love affair with Clarke Quay was growing cold, and let's face it, there are plenty of bars that you can go to without risking the metermaid mafia forcing you into a $115 additional tip. So we set our sites Orchard way and piled in the silver Benzo for Howl at the Moon.
Howl at the Moon's walls have an old world rustic feel aided by rough wood and wrought iron everywhere. I wished there was a Sergio Leone soundtrack for this cozy warren of rooms; instead we were treated to a deejay spinning trip hop and crunchy jungle. We settled down around a tall table for some serious people watching, libation and diatribe. The crowd was a mix of college kids, with actors and artists thrown into the mix. I was glad we got there early, as seating at Rouge can be tight.
Howl at the Moon really is the kind of bar you can sit and have a conversation in, and the multiple rooms add an air of mystery to the place. Doubtless you'll see old friends and make new ones in this Peranakan Place saloon. It's rather like drinking in your living room, only the decor is better. You can dress to impress or not, the staff will still treat you right.
Cocktails fueled our creativity and we discussed magazine publishing long into the night, well at least until the dreaded cry of "last call." We made our goodbyes, phone numbers exchanged hands and everyone shared a hug or a kiss. At last we hollered "hi-ho silver" as we sped off into the night on four wheels and liquor-fueled good vibes.