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Guide to Gemmill Lane

We round up where to eat and what to do while in Gemmill Lane. Additional reporting by Michelle Fong and Ong Huiqi

The small stretch between Club Street and Amoy Street  whose namesake is 19th-century banker John Gemmill  is home to a handful of stylish restaurants and bars, making it the perfect spot for a laid-back hangout. Don't stop at the end of the road either, the back alley of Amoy Street has a few hidden restaurants to wind down at for an after-work dinner and drinks sesh.

RECOMMENDED: Check out our guide to the Ann Siang Hill area

Restaurants and bars

Angeleno
Restaurants

Angeleno

In this heyday for fusion cuisine, fewer restaurants are content to simply rock the classics. Angeleno, the newest extension of Luke's Travis Masiero Restaurant Group, on the other hand, is more than happy to embrace a cuisine that conjures memories of comforting Italian-American plates. Signatures like the veal parmigiana and meatballs slathered in 4-hour-stewed organic tomato sauce reads more like a loud and boisterous New York joint than the veggie-worshipping cuisine of Los Angeles. Rather, it’s the philosophy of chef-owner David Almany, a protégé of Mario Batali who helped set up the Mozzas at MBS, that matters. He brings together the farm-to-table ethic of his Californian upbringing and the warming simplicity of Italian-American fare. Almany's savouries and pastry chef Ariana Flores' plates hit all the right notes. A ball of milky mozzarella ($34) is carefully pulled bar-side by the chefs, and we find ourselves gasping after a steaming plate of tomato sauce-draped meatballs on fluffy heirloom polenta ($22) and warming minced meat ragu over al dente ruffles of tagliatelle ($28). Main course is where the bill tips into special occasion territory. Still, you'd be hard-pressed to find a breaded slab of Dutch milk-fed veal chop ($75) as hefty as the one here, topped with nostalgic quantities of red sauce and stringy smoked mozzarella. The grilled USDA Prime New York strip ($65) is less successful, emerging from the kitchen at a dry medium doneness with horseradish gremola

Time Out says
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Bar-a-Thym
Restaurants

Bar-a-Thym

Chef Francois Mermilliod of Absinthe fame enters Gemmill Lane’s restaurant fray with Bar-a-Thym.  This casual French restaurant veers from the stereotypical snootiness of its counterparts with communal seats and an impressive plancha (flat top grill) taking centre stage, giving customers front row seats to the spectacle that is the Maillard reaction. Seafood is the name of the game here – start your meal with the yellow fin tuna ceviche ($24) or the tooth-fish carpaccio ($26), and fill up with the chorizo squid-ink risotto with red snapper ($38) or the whole Fish of the Day cooked in a lemon thyme jus if you’re game. An extensive wine list ($12-$20/glass, $68-$1288/bottle) lets you pair your meal accordingly.

Burger Joint
Restaurants

Burger Joint

It’s shaping up to be the year of The International Franchise® for the local dining scene. New York’s simply named Burger Joint is another one in the convoy rolling in from overseas, and it’s here to try its luck with Singaporeans’ love for patty and bun. On the back alley of Gemmil Lane, shift through the metal doors next to the neon burger sign, run your fingers down the red velvet curtained passageway, and enter the joint. Split into burger kitchen and craft beer bar, the space feels like an underground bunker, clad in graffiti-covered swirly timber. ‘It’s almost creepy how much this one looks like the original in New York,’ an expat friend tells us in shock horror. The menu of hamburgers ($13.10), cheeseburgers ($13.80), bacon burgers ($15.10) and bacon cheeseburgers ($15.80) is scrawled on torn-off sheets of packing cardboard tacked to the wall, as are instructions on how to order right – 'or else you go to the end of the line!' it menaces in bubble calligraphy. (Another scribble below de-claws the threat: ‘I’ve never seen anyone return to the back of the line, so chill!’) Choose a burger, its doneness and trimmings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ketchup, mayo and mustard. We’re never fans of paying extra for fries, but the crispy shoestrings ($5.50), salted just so, are a must. The soft, almost-steamed patty – it lacks an outer crunch – and fluffy bun are cooked inconsistently between visits. It’s seasoned when an all-American team mans the kitchen, but und

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Users say
  • 5 out of 5 stars
Club Street Social
Restaurants

Club Street Social

For comfortable and hearty American fare, Club Street Social is the place to be. The brick-walled space and selection of laid-back tunes recreate the uncluttered feel of a Manhattan bistro-bar – elegant yet cosy. This 48-seater does everything from pulled pork Benedict ($20), pancakes ($16), salads ($17-$20) and pizza ($19-$21) for brunch, to mains like pan-seared snapper and panzanella salad ($26), and spring chicken with dukkah and pecorino pearl barley ($26) for dinner. Pair your food with imaginative-sounding cocktails like Five Minutes to Midnight, ($20), Julep in Your Dreams ($20) or the boldly named Zombieland ($19).

Employees Only
Bars and pubs

Employees Only

Beyond a pink neon sign that flickers ‘Psychic’, you’ll find a bar that will take you back to the Prohibition days of the US. Choose to have your fortune read or squeeze through the mingling crowd to the back of Employee’s Only for a table – like the original New York cocktail institution of the same name, this local off-shoot is a favourite among F&B folks to gather and unwind. ‘Authenticity’ is this watering hole’s calling card. Steve Schneider, a veteran with 13 years of experience and multiple accolades under his belt, is tasked with educating the bar team on the techniques Employees Only is famed for. The free-pouring style of crafting a tipple, for example, is one of the things fresh hires learn when they start as apprentices. And tucked at the back is the kitchen that issues out a Modern American menu – think hand-chopped steak tartare ($27) and bone marrow poppers ($15).

Gemmills
Bars and pubs

Gemmills

If 19th-century banker John Gemmill were alive today, you’d surely find him unwinding on his namesake street. The short side road off Club Street has become the more legit bar-and-restaurant quarter in the area – and now, Gemmills, by the same folks behind Moosehead and Maggie Joan’s, is boosting the buzz. Gemmills is the kind of bar – it also serves breakfast and lunch – you’d imagine deepconversation types to hit up. Wine is its poison of choice. You won’t have to spend too much, either: handwritten price tags ranging from $50 to $110 hang off bottles of Australian, Italian and New Zealand red and whites – pretty reasonable fees. At the food counter, a wooden platter of cheeses tame as Comte ($6) and stinky as Spanish Cabralde de Romain ($8), as well as charcuterie ($7-$10) can be ordered by weight.  In the day, noshing in the mellow room is kept just as simple. A pegboard advertises a legume salad of lentils, chickpeas and Parmesan shavings ($10), and a glass display case makes pointing for a tart of the day ($10) easy-peasy.  Gemmills’ choice to do away with the frills in favour of giving the ’hood a no-nonsense watering hole with good-value food and drinks is a breath of fresh air we’re sure John would approve of.  But if you’re in a hurry, there’s a grab-and-go coffee corner near its entrance where you can order a latte ($4), toasted croissants ($4.50) and housemade granola with fruits and yogurt ($8) to go. 

Time Out says
  • 3 out of 5 stars
Le Binchotan
Restaurants

Le Binchotan

Named after the white charcoal used to smoke its French-Japanese tapas, Le Binchotan is a chic eatery dishing out small plates, large plates, and skewered items licked by the grill. Don't be fooled by the large mirror at the back of the restaurant, the space is small and only seats 38. Ingredients are flown in from Japan to produce dishes like the Myoban uni ($23), a corn mousse topped with long-spiked uni that reaches the restaurant mere hours before ending up on your plate. Other highlights include shaven foie gras ($21) made to look like wood chips served with daikon and dashi gelée, single-stick skewers of wagyu striploin ($15), and Iberico pork jowl ($35).

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House
Restaurants

Luke's Oyster Bar & Chop House

This Travis Masiero-owned joint is your traditional American chophouse: it specialises in lots of meat and some stellar seafood. If you’re in the mood for the former, try the bone-in tenderloin au poivre, served with peppercorn crust and mustard cognac jus ($82) or the blue label burger ($32). But ends up as your main, make sure you start with a tray of Luke’s oysters, sourced from chef Masiero’s hometown of Boston. Going for $96 for a dozen and $48 for six, the molluscs range from the mildly briny Onset to the rich Bar Harbor.

Maggie Joan's
Restaurants

Maggie Joan's

Gemmill Lane, Club Street's quieter sidekick, has long been a haunt for chilled-out drinks at Beaujolais and Club Street Social, or a celebratory night out at Luke's Oyster Bar. Now, the alley is in the thick of its own restaurant revival. Count Maggie Joan's as its equivalent of a hipper-than-thou secret dining club, or Platform 9 3/4 with a Mediterranean meal lurking in lieu of Hogwarts. The restaurant is the sibling of Moosehead Kitchen and Bar. Father-and-son team Glen and Daniel Ballis, along with their friend Darren Micallef, are the brains behind the operation, named after Daniel’s two grandmothers. Sleuth down the Gemmill-facing back alley off Amoy Street, enter the metal door marked by an unlit signboard and you’ll find yourself in a twinkling cosy cave of a long, darkened dining room. More brightly lit is the open kitchen with ex-Pollen sous chef Oliver Hyde leading the cooking. Contrary to the grandmotherly connotations of the restaurant’s name, the seasonally driven plates are more refined than rustic in plating and execution. Those looking for the brasher, smokier INKA-kissed meats should continue to hit up Moosehead – only a few elements on the limited menu are fired in the wood oven.  Seafood is Maggie Joan’s strong suit. Thick, robust slices of marinated yellowtail ($23) is arranged in a row among artfully tousled carrot shavings, pickled shallot rings and a mildly salted cod emulsion. A thick fillet of mellow bass ($28) sits in pesto soup with vanilla and

Time Out says
  • 4 out of 5 stars
Ô Batignolles
Bars and pubs

Ô Batignolles

You’ll be in good hands here: owner and chief sommelier Antoine Rouland commands 13 years of experience and, with co-founder Marie-Charlotte Ley, handpicks Old World wines from independent winemakers and producers on their regular trips to France – which means controlled yields of favourites such as the 2015 Domaine du Tariquet Classic ($9/glass, $42/bottle), which is also stocked at Ô Comptoir, its sister cider bar and crêpe bistro. The vino is replenished every day to ensure you’re getting the stuff in top-notch condition, and prices start at around $8 a glass and $38 a bottle. If a sparkling’s more up your alley, the Marguerite Guyot Cuvée Passion, Champagne AOC ($130/bottle) will do the trick. And don’t forget to sample French vino from different regions by signing up for one of Ô Batignolles’ monthly wine tastings.

Elsewhere on Gemmill Lane...

The Comb
Health and beauty

The Comb

Situated on a quiet lane off Club Street, The Comb is a revamp of the former Rise Hair Salon (after a change of management). With a team of local and Korean stylists, their focus is mostly on Korean-influenced tresses, as evidenced by creative director Rina Kil’s client list of K-pop celebs. Most of the furniture and fittings from its predecessor remains in this brightly-lit space, including the wood-paneled long table with open shelves to store your belongings. It’s easy to feel at home here, where they serve you with a choice of complimentary coffee, TWG tea or orange juice once you’re comfortably seated. Reclining on adjustable seats, we began our pampering session with a hair wash that included an invigorating 15-minute scalp massage. The relaxing experience was slightly interrupted when another assistant entered and started whispering with our stylist over the choice of shampoo and procedure – which made us feel somewhat short-changed – but they made up for it by showering us with earnest attention. Next up was a consultation with fashionably-dressed senior stylist, Bella Son. We decided to leave our new hairdo in her hands. With the work divided between her and an assistant, the process went by quickly but not entirely smoothly. A splash of hair dye accidentally stung our exposed hands, and hand-held hair dryers were used in place of the standing ones, which were strangely all out of order. Nonetheless, their styling was meticulous. With our new look, Bella gave us a

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