District 10 Bistro Wine Bar (moved – check website for new location)
10 Winstedt Road
+65 6738 4788
It doesn’t matter too much if a restaurant on the other side of the island is a disappointment. But being just a five-minute walk from where we live, this new eatery in the old Monk’s Hill secondary school has the potential to fill in for me on those nights when I arrive home too knackered to switch on the kitchen lights. So I really, really want to like it.
At 8.30 on a Thursday evening it is full – despite the size of the place – so we take a seat at the big bar (equipped with big TV) and look around. There’s an attractive, more comfortable-looking alfresco area as you enter, but indoors is pleasant enough – ultra-casual with bare wooden tables and chairs. So far, so good
Aha! Through the display kitchen window I spy English chef Dean Fisher, who cooked up a storm of oysters Kilpatrick and other aphrodisiacal morsels for the Expat Living Valentine’s dinner photo-shoot early this year. The prospects for this place becoming my surrogate husband-who-cooks are looking good.
But it is only when we’re seated inside that we see the wine: an entire “browsing wall” of reds and a refrigerator of whites, divided into sections labelled $39, $49, $79 and $99. The staff hasn’t mentioned it, neither has the menu, and the wall can’t be seen from either the bar or the alfresco area in front. We stick with the $10 per glass Aussie plonk we’ve ordered at the bar, but there are far better choices to be had.
We’re so pleased with the wall of wine that we might even forgive a few glitches with the food. But the house salad ($12) of assorted lettuce with marinated mushrooms, walnuts, feta cheese and roasted Roma tomatoes is as good as one you’d make yourself, and big enough to share. We have it with olive-oil-drizzled rosemary flatbread ($10) which comes with mashed avocado, hummus and olives, and also try the Scottish smoked salmon pâté with crostini ($10) – this is truly outstanding.
My crispy duck confit ($24), though sadly not crispy, is succulent and tasty; better than the version I tried recently at Picotin, and much better than my own attempt at preparing this fiddly dish. And Roy is happy with his beer-battered fish and chips ($19), which means we can come back. I’d be keen to try some of today’s blackboard specials, which include Wagyu beef cheek Rendang ($28) and Pavlova ($10).
This is what most of us want, isn’t it? A restaurant within easy walking distance of home with a small core menu of Western favourites, a changing list of blackboard specials, and a wine list that won’t – to quote my friend Walter – make your wallet bleed.