Enter Side Door located on 3 Neil Road (the entrance is not on the five foot way but to the side) and you’ll find yourself in a venue that reminds you more of a homely abode than a commercial restaurant and bar.
The brainchild of dynamic chef and bartender duo Tryson Quek and Bannie Kang, Side Door houses things you’ll more often find in someone’s home – such as the former’s proficiently amassed lego collection and the latter’s bevy of carefully cultivated fronds.
Perhaps that’s the very intent. Side Door, first conceived as a private dining and bar within the couple’s home, has now stepped out into the public space with their Duxton area opening.
The 40-seater space is a labour of love by the chef-bartender pair, who are well-known names in the F&B scene thanks to their former stints at the likes of Anti:dote at Swissotel The Stamford, as well as at Mu in Taiwan as co-founders.
On the drinks menu are creations by Kang – winner of Diageo World Class Bartender of the Year (2019) and claimant of the accolade of Bartenders’ Bartender at Asia’s 50 Best Bars (2021) – inspired by classics as well as her wealth of bartending experience.
Start with the Easy Peasy (S$25), a refreshing yet punchy gin-based cocktail made using lime leaves, dry vermouth, and calamansi, plus mountain peppers from Taiwan. That last hard-to-get ingredient lends an air of lemongrass and citrus to the drink not commonly found.
For a twist on the Bloody Mary and Moscow Mule in one, try the Holy Moly Mary (S$20). An infusion of hand-picked market tomatoes in vodka is clarified then topped with sparkling ginger beer in a long glass that’s rimmed with plum powder, for a concoction that is at once sultry, fresh, and bitey.
Our favourite has got to be the Seaside (S$26), where tequila is first fat-washed with curry leaves cooked in coconut oil, then mixed with fresh watermelon, fernet hunter, lime, and lemongrass. The ostensibly stiff cocktail is potent and complex, with a whiff of the sea (thanks to the nori powder brushed on the side of the glass) adding to the fragrance.
Food is no afterthought at Side Door. Quek dishes out his brand of hearty eats with finesse, coming up with items like the Angus beef tartare (S$22) and double fried fries (S$15).
The former, enjoyed with paprika rice puffs and yuzu sorbet, offers a great balance of beefy protein and acidic bite. Meanwhile, the latter is a dish of addictive skin-on fries fried in a surprisingly light tempura batter, then coated in garlic aioli and crispy crushed garlic – delicious.
For something more filling, go for the blue-lipped mussels (S$25). The satisfying bowl of shellfish comes soaked in a homemade stock of mollusks, bacon, garlic and white wine plus a hint of chilli padi, then served alongside slices of sourdough that is best used to soak up every drop of the moreish broth.
Beyond dining and cocktails, find a cafe programme during the daytime as well, where a menu of hand brewed coffee and tea, as well as bakes by resident pastry chef Jamie Lee (formerly from 2am:dessert bar), awaits.
And for those who miss Side Door as it was during its time in the couple’s house, it lives on as a multi-course meal option, complete with drink pairing, within a private back room. Many of the home elements live on here, and is something fans of the intimate experience will likely continue to enjoy.
Side Door is located at 3 Neil Rd, #01-01, Singapore 088805.