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Old 5th August 2018, 11:48 PM   #1
yflyer
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Default Singapore Dining - The Guild: Gastropub at Keong Saik Rd

Keong Saik Road, near Chinatown, has no shortage of superb eateries, whether zi char or Michelin-starred dining...



The Guild, a newly opened gastropub, is one of the latest entrants to the scene there, offering a wide range of craft beers, cocktails and other beverages along with a very refreshing and inspired take on gastropub cuisine.



The Guild is a collaboration between Young Master Breweries in Hong Kong and Italian American chef Vinnie Lauria. I've been a fan of Young Master Breweries for a long time. The brewery founder is a personal friend, and Mrs yflyer and I and sampled their wonderful craft beer at Stone Nullah Tavern in Hong Kong when we were last there.

What exactly is a gastropub? While I've been fortunate enough to dine at some very fine restaurants, I'm a relative newbie to the bar/pub scene, so I had to Google the definition...from what I gather it's still a pub/bar/restaurant, but one which serves high-end or upscale beer and cuisine.

Not all gastropubs are created equal, and there might have been more misses than hits here, at least in the Singapore context, since the concept of a Gastropub hasn't really been on the collective food radar of Singapore foodies (That's my impression anyway -- happy to be corrected!).

But with The Guild, I think we have a gastropub that I find really groundbreaking, both in concept and execution: The ambience wonderful, the drink list remarkably creative and eclectic...and the cuisine is, to me, approaching genius, where chef Vinnie Lauria has managed to offer a menu which is a daring and mischievous blend of the familiar and the unexpected.

Here is a chef who has mastered the tastes and techniques of western cuisine, yet has somehow managed to distill key elements of Asian/Singaporean cuisine and ingredients into his recipes, working with local producers to create dishes with his own spin/riff on local specialities in ways that brought smiles to our faces. And speaking of smiles, the menu here is almost a magic show where nothing was what it seemed..."marrow" bruschetta? That may look like marrow, but it most certainly was not! And on Vinnie's menu, the American-Chinese dish General Tso's Chicken has been subverted (In a good way..) into something that just might tempt the diner to taste local frogs legs from Jurong Frog Farm.

Last edited by yflyer; 6th August 2018 at 07:10 PM..
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Old 6th August 2018, 12:06 AM   #2
yflyer
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I had dinner at The Guild last week with Mrs yflyer and our two girls...

The first thing that you notice inside is the beautiful circular bar, with 19 beers on tap...



...which included several Young Master ales, and many other craft beers which looked to be worth sampling...







There is both bar seating and proper sit down dining...



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Old 6th August 2018, 12:29 AM   #3
yflyer
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We began with cocktails...

I began with a Habi Gimlet...

This was Lola & Vera Gin, sweet & Sour, and firewater tincture..



This tasted like a standard Gimlet on fire...sweet but with a tabasco-like hot finish...unusual to say the least!

Mrs yflyer sampled an Umami Gibson, which was made from Black Tomato Gin, shitake-infused dry vermouth, and an improbable combination of pickled mushroom, onion, and pickled mushroom brine...



...which Mrs yflyer found delicious...both cold and savoury...(I found the taste of Chinese mushroom a little too strong, though...not really an ingredient I would want in my cocktail...)

I also sample their G&T on tap, which came with an unusual pinkish hue...



...as it was infused with grapefruit juice...a very refreshing take on a G&T.

The bartenders here could probably make you expert versions of any standard cocktail you wanted...but why do that when you had a list of signature cocktails to sample?

They also had quite a list of high balls which I made a mental note to try out next time...



The menu also had a selection of Boiler Makers, which is a shot of liquor accompanied with a glass beer...



We ordered a Singapore Handshake, which was a shot of Bloom Gin accompanied by Young Master Classic Pale Aie...



There was no specific way to drink this, our friendly and attentive waiter explained...you could start with the gin, and then the beer, or the other way round...and then of course there was the "depth charge" where the liquor shot is dropped into the beer....nah...not today....

There are also wines, mocktails and a happy hour menu...


Last edited by yflyer; 6th August 2018 at 01:55 AM..
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Old 6th August 2018, 12:38 AM   #4
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The dinner menu...

Small plates...



Mains...



Vegetables and sides...



This is a menu one had to read very carefully (Because as mentioned, for some of the items, nothing is what it seems...), and ideally get a waiter to come and explain the dishes to you...

It is possible to eat a fairly "safe" menu here and have an absolutely wonderful meal-- the steak is superb for example...but there are so many inspired dishes on the menu that I would suggest just throwing caution to the wind, along with any dietary preconceptions, and trust that the chef and kitchen know what they are doing...they do!
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Old 6th August 2018, 01:04 AM   #5
yflyer
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We began with General Tso's Frogs Legs...



I've always found it amusing that apparently many in the USA think that General Tso's Chicken is a classic Chinese dish...

Rather than chicken, the version at The Guild is made with tender, juicy frogs legs, and is slightly spicy. I found the frogs legs to be quite delicious...perfect with beer and cocktails...

Another starter we ordered was the French Onion dip, which was innocent enough, with crisp, savoury crinkle cut fries, and a smooth, tasty dip with caramelised onions...



...Unless someone told you (or you read the small print in the menu carefully), you would not know that there was another, less commonly found ingredient in the delicious dip...

We ordered the brawn terrine on the recommendation of our waiter, and we were not disappointed...



This was terrine of pigs head...a dish with great mouthfeel, with the spicy pickled vegetables offering a nice contrast to the rich flavour of the terrine...

Another example of Chef Vinnie's culinary sleight-of-hand was the "marrow" bruschetta...



The oxtail "marmalade" was the familiar meat component, but instead of bone marrow on charred bread, the soft, white gelatinous chunks were actually frog hashima, or frogs' glands...a Chinese delicacy -- but never prepared like this! But the dish worked -- it was very tasty, and arguably healthier than marrow too!

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Old 6th August 2018, 01:31 AM   #6
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Our first main was the Salisbury rubbed Hanger Steak...



...we were back in familiar territory...this steak, which we requested medium rare, was quite delicious...tender and full of flavour. As good a steak as you could get almost anywhere in Singapore...(I say almost because Burnt Ends is right round the corner...)

We accompanied the steak with charred corn and buttered grits...this was an absolutely delicious side...



We also ordered the chicken noodle soup...



I was half expecting a Western version of this soup, but this was almost an Asian version...noodles in a tasty broth, topped with a soft boiled egg...comfort food...

The menu also had a BCM Tagliatelle "Bolo"...where I guessed BCM would stand for Bak Chor Mee...something our waiter confirmed...



This was not the same as the food centre variety of BCM, but somehow this version worked...but Chef Vinnie's reinvented version was very tasty, not to mention very refined, in a way that was quite different from its original inspiration...



What really impressed me about the cuisine at The Guild was the way the food moved effortlessly across East and West. There was nothing gimmicky about the Singapore flavours or dishes inspired by local fare..no fusion for fusion's sake...the dishes we sampled were brilliantly conceived and impeccably executed.

One of the most remarkable dinners I have had in Singapore in a long time...

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Old 6th August 2018, 01:40 AM   #7
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There is only one dessert on the menu...



...Buah Keluak ice cream...

The Buak Keluak nut is an iconic ingredient in Nyonya cuisine, more traditionally incorporated into a chicken dish, the much beloved Ayam Buah Keluak...

Here it was used to add a subtle but distinctive flavour to ice cream...



Fans of Buah Keluak would love this dish..that said, the nut has a distinctive flavour which may not appeal to everyone. Maybe there are tubs of vanilla or chocolate ice cream available as off-menu items for those less enamoured of this delicacy.

How did Chef Vinnie discover Buah Keluak? I've half joked to acquaintances that my nightmare scenario is that the Buah Keluak nut will be discovered by celebrity chefs, who will turn it into the next "it" ingredient...and drive up demand and price for this nut to the point it becomes a rare commodity...

But on the other hand, I also wonder what Chef Vinnie could do with Buah Keluak as an ingredient in future new dishes...
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Old 6th August 2018, 01:48 AM   #8
yflyer
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What a satisfying dinner...

Remember that this is a pub...the atmosphere is lively and noisy, and quite informal...perfect for a good evening out (They only open for dinner), but don't expect a quiet setting!

There were only so many dishes we could sample on the menu in one sitting...there were many others we would want to try as well.

Needless to say, we will be back at The Guild some time soon...

Highly recommended, and thanks for reading!
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Old 6th August 2018, 11:47 AM   #9
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Love how you masterfully lit up your photos!!

Thanks for the review, yflyer!
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Old 10th August 2018, 09:12 AM   #10
yflyer
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CarbonMan View Post
Love how you masterfully lit up your photos!!

Thanks for the review, yflyer!
Thanks, CarbonMan! I was dining with the family, so Miss yflyer No.1 was around to hold up her phone light to assist...(It was her idea to light the food pics!)
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