A while back I did a prelude to a full fledged, Singapore-wide burger review long-promised but woefully still in the “research” stages (my excuse to continue eating tons and tons of burgers). I opened it up in comments and in questions to my friends, and was overwhelmed by the recommendations for the simple burgers at Bar Bar Black Sheep. You hear something once, it could just be someone’s personal tastes. A few times and maybe you’re getting onto something. As many nods as I’ve had towards this inauspicious burger giant… well I’ve heard of mass hysteria, but in the sometimes over-opinionated food culture that is Singapore it’s quite rare to hear so many glowing reviews without at least one person trying to stand out amongst the group for hating on it.
When it comes to Bar Bar, I’m no hater.
There are actually now two locations for Bar Bar. Previously located out off of Bukit Timah road in the west/central part of Singapore, the old Bar Bar catered to a mix of in-the-know expats and trendy locals. The service was spotty (where isn’t it in Singapore?), ambiance sparse, and the location was a bit hard to reach even if you knew where it was. But the quality of the food, cheap beers, and these burgers keep the place packed enough to where opening another branch down by the river seemed a good idea.
I kept meaning to make a trip down with my schoolmate Asher who lives nearby (one of the first voices of support for the burgers here), but laziness usually overrode my desire to bite into this much-loved local burger… that and not wanting to pay double the cab fare than for the burger itself. Thankfully the new location is within walking distance (well a nice 15-20 minute walk) from my Chinatown home.
The new one is setup pretty much the same as the original, though it looks a bit more modern and planned out. Most of the seating is outside near the river just off of Robertson Quay… a short walk from the Gallery Hotel going the opposite direction of Epicurious. You walk inside to see the three different small kitchens at work preparing their different meals. There’s a Thai restaurant called ESarn serving my personal favorite variety of Thai food (will go back and check this place out soon).
An Indian restaurant, Sher Indian Food, offering western favorites Briyani and Chicken Tikka
And finally the Platterz. I guess they serve other food ( ) but I was here for the burger.
Prices are about half of any Dempsey joint and the flavors about double… funny how that works in Singapore. I went with the loaded up mushroom mozzarella burger which only comes out to 15.90 and got a 10 dollar pint of beer… still 5 bucks under just a burger elsewhere! The burger is pretty damn good. Best in Singapore? Well I’m still researching that . There are some nice touches though – Napa cabbage instead of lettuce gives the burger a nice crunch, the bun is covered in sesame which gives a nice nutty roundness to the flavor, and best of all, the meat itself has plenty of seasoning and interest so it doesn’t need to be drowned in fancy sauces to make an interesting bite. It’s just good on it’s own as meat and even better in the middle of two slices of bread with some cheese.
The burger at the original location is a bit flatter, more mushed in appearance. Think a high quality fast-food style burger from the US. The prices are also a couple dollars less out there. Both burgers are equally good though… it’s just that new location’s burger appears more high end. Both are worthy of attention and for hearty recommendations… hell, the original joint has burgers cheaper than some you’ll find at Carl’s Junior or Wendy’s! Plus there’s the added bonus of the other restaurants. Friends don’t eat meat or somehow not always in the mood for a burger? One stop shop that can make everyone happy
Forget those overly fancy high-end, mushy Wagyu burgers and give these a try. Saving money in Singapore tastes pretty good!
The New One
88 Roberson Quay
879 Cherry Avenue