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old empire gastrobar is this unpretentious pub/bar located in the sleepy shopping centre of valley point near river valley. (yes, spize is nearby, and dozo and la noce are in the same building.. if you need a reference). the sense i get from the bar is that it is an unpretentious watering hole, with lively 90s music, simple bar furnishings -- a place that would completely blend into its surroundings had it been plonked into a irish/uk/us town. with such an environment, you would understand why foreigners flock to this place for drinks on a lazy, rainy friday night to just unwind, chillax and chat with friends. i was wondering why Singaporeans didn't seem to buy into such a culture in general, then i remembered the coffee shops littered with old uncles watching football and realized the parallel there. different strokes for different folks eh?
and as an aside, using the word "gastrobar" really does raise the atas-ness of a restaurant by several notches eh? i mean, upon reading about this gastrobar on HGW, i was imagining some cool, chic, hip, well-designed bar serving pricey fusion bar food with an assortment of beer. well my impression couldn't be more way off, considering this place was simply an unpretentious pub with well.. simple pubby food like fish & chips, burgers, chicken wings and the likes. but hey.. this shows.. using these "atas" words like gastro really does work sometimes eh? i'm chope-ing the word "gastroculture" or something like that for my future restaurant eh? lol..
trappistes rochefort 6
ok.. beer wise, they do have a real decent, long selection of beers, and with a happy hour till 8pm, you can get some relatively decently priced beers to accompany your meal. i got the trappistes rochefort 6 ($11)
, some belgian ale which had a malty sweet taste that appealed to my sweet-tooth sensibilities, whereas my sis got a girly koppaberg strawberry-lime beer ($8)
. both were pretty decent selections imo (but i still prefer wine of course =))
smoked duck breast, $18
this is a surprisingly well plated dish for simple bar grub and the duck breast was all sorts of delicious, tasting almost somewhat like ham -- well grilled, flavorful and really kinda addictive to be honest. the drawback of this dish would be the fact that it was kinda really oily, meaning that the health-conscious sensibilities of mine were kindaprotesting at the dish. but its worth a try to be honest.
empire burger, $18
my sis ordered an empire burger, which was another surprise as well, this one not as pleasant. to be honest, the notion of burgers at a pub conjured up images of huge slabs of patty and bun in my mind, so it was kinda underwhelming to see such a small burger being served up, along with a decent potion of potato wedges. the burger was alrite, but nothing too special. this doesn't really warrant an $18 to be honest..
hmm.. all in all, this place is nice to hang out and have some beer while catching up with friends. furthermore, there's a 15% discount with standard chartered to sweeten the deal. food-wise, its kinda unexpected if you're expecting common bar grub. there's some level of sophistication but it needs some tweaking in my opinion. hold on the food-front until more reviews emerge praising their cuisine -- otherwise, come for somewhat more delicious bar grub then.