For all of EDB’s aspirations, Gillman Barracks is going through a slow decline. Galleries are moving out and people just aren’t visiting. Despite – or perhaps because of – that, The Naked Finn has moved to larger premises down the road and, in its old space, raised a greenhouse-like shack that serves up frozen cocktails and a seafood-heavy bar bites menu.
Nekkid feels like a post-work hangout for the staff of The Naked Finn. When we visited, the small room was filled with black-clad waiters from the restaurant, knocking back a couple of cold ones. We felt out of place, but within minutes were given recommendations that turned out to be spot on.
Firstly, the frozen drinks here are straight up saccharine and polite, so don’t come expecting throat-scorching spirits. The 16 signature cocktails, which all bear a tropical twist, are frozen to -12ºC and then shaved using a Pacojet, a contraption favoured by modern kitchens, for a consistency halfway between ice kacang and a sorbet. Couple that with the dominating fruit and tea flavours, and you get tipples that are almost too easy to slurp down, brainfreeze notwithstanding.
The recommendation of coconut and rum ($18) was our favourite. Fresh coconut meat, milk and juice are mixed with white Bacardi before the Pacojet treatment. It’s rich but not overwhelming – one sip and we’re brought back to a cabana by the beach, sweat rolling down our neck. The white peach, Redemption bourbon and lemon juice ($22) and Kyoho grape, Calpico and SKYY vodka ($20) combos lean too far on the sweet side, but their virtues are made clear once the food is served.
The small plates, devised by the Finn’s Ken Loon, ($5-$10) perpetuate the tropical theme. Our grilled baby squid ($8) and deep fried barramundi ($8) are fresh, tender and clean. The house special of orh jien ($6) – grilled baby squid innards – is a brinier play on oyster omelettes, served with a chilli that rivals that of many hawker stalls. Having a morsel in between nips of our cocktail lifted both – the flavours of smoke, sea and sun in perfect choreography.
But is Nekkid worth the trip down to Gillman? Probably not. As well-made as the drinks and dishes are, you’re better off booking a table at The Naked Finn and slipping in for an aperitif. This is a bar that would own the seaside, not the bowels of an arts enclave on its last legs.
41 Malan Rd
|Opening hours:||Mon-Sat 4pm-midnight|