Cheap Wine Bars

Cheap wine bars are few and far between in Singapore. Those of us who’ve been here for a while probably remember the feeling of relief when you discovered Wine Connection and realised that not every bottle of wine in Singapore is $75+++. After a while though, either the food, the crappy service or the meh locations will put you off. At the end of the day Wine Connection lacks that personalised style and service that will make you a repeat customer. Well, a happy repeat customer anyway.

In my case I’d given up on cheap wine bars. I’d accepted the inevitable high prices and justified them by our low tax system in Singapore. A few weekends ago though, on the way to The Projector on Beach Road, we popped into 13% Gastro Wine @Aliwal.

13% Gastro @Aliwal

Maybe I’m on some sort of ‘thirteen’ related roll. I’m not sure, but whatever it is about the number thirteen, this year it has proven lucky for me. The first thing to note about 13% Gastro is that their locations are both upstairs. So don’t accidentally take a seat in the dodgy downstairs bar with the logo on the corner like we did. Head upstairs and into the dimly lit, French inspired surroundings. Then grab a seat at the bar, on the sofa or at a high table.

You could be mistaken for a moment for feeling like you’re in a Parisienne bar. Well not quite, but for a start the waiters were all French. We also learnt that the bar was founded by two French friends who wanted to create a space for good French food and wine in a casual atmosphere. They seem to have done what they set out to.

Home made Food

We ordered a charcuterie board, a glass of champagne and a glass of red. And one vegetarian dish to round it off. We were informed of the charcuterie that it was nearly all made in house. The pigs head terrine, rillettes, foie gras (I didn’t eat any) and pates are all made at the kitchen in the Killiney location. Which might explain why they were so good. Alongside the very generously sized charcuterie ($58++) was a bucket of bread for two. We also chose a baked zucchini with tomato and pesto ($10++) to add some green into our ‘dinner’. Granted the price of the charcuterie isn’t cheap. It was however a huge serving (we couldn’t eat it all between two and it was our dinner) and the quality was excellent.

The duck rillettes were as good as the ones from Secrets Deli in Tiong Bahru, which I’ve raved about before. I’m not such a fan of pork rillettes but there was nothing wrong with these ones. The chorizo isn’t home made but was an authentic Iberico chorizo with chunky bits of meat and a good hit of paprika.

The pigs head terrine was probably what impressed me the most. I’m not normally a fan of the aspic in a dish like this but, being home made, as soon as you popped this on your tongue the aspic dissolved into a liquid broth that was salty and flavoursome. The pâté’s were equally good and clearly home made with good quality ingredients.

Our zucchini dish, although perhaps not the most obvious accompaniment, actually went really well. The zucchini was only just cooked, meaning it had crunch left in it, the tomato sauce was not overpowering and the fresh herb toppings added a lovely zing.

The house champagne was very decent, dry and crisp and good value at $17++ per glass. We also tried a red wine by the glass, I think it was a Cabernet Franc, that was smooth and well rounded, with a fruity finish. Also excellent value at $15++ per glass. What I liked is that ordering wine by the glass we weren’t subjected to bad wine or even worse, off wine, just decent choices of good wine.

I’m no Francophile but 13% Gastro made for a very pleasant place to spend a Saturday evening. Very much worth nipping in for a drink or two or even something a little more hearty.

13% Gastro @Killiney

Last Friday night we also had a chance to try 13% Gastro @Killiney. The concept is virtually identical, and the interiors feel similar too. On this Friday night it was packed and although the staff were a little harried they were all friendly and helpful.

We sampled a few more menu items on this visit. The Ta Ti Flette ($18++) and an amazing baked tomato dish topped with pine nuts and burrata ($23++). The Ta Ti Flette was wonderfully rich with creamy potato, a dash of Iberico ham and a gorgeous melty topping of Reblochon cheese. We also tried the fries which were crisp and light but needed a little more salt.

Both 13% Gastro venues are worth a visit. The venues are great for an event or an evening where you want to tuck up somewhere dim and enjoy good wine and food in complete ignorance of the world outside. And don’t think for a moment that just because they’re cheap wine bars they’re not good. Au contraire, they are very good.

13% Gastro Wine @Aliwal
14 Aliwal Street, #02-01 (Second floor), Singapore
phone +65 6291 6816

13% Gastro Wine @Killiney
117A Killiney Road, 2nd floor
phone +65 6694 4708

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Penilaianmu: MagBe