great american food in the deep-of-the-woods in sembawang. I’m of half a mind not to share this with you, but I rather like the photos that turned out so let’s just say I’m doing this in narcissism, though we both know I’m being amazing!!! by sharing what really is a sort of largely undiscovered gem.
I’ve never really thought much about bikers or the biker culture in singapore – for one, I hardly knew we really had one, and secondly I had always sort of thought them a group of rather obsessive hobbyists with nothing in common with myself (not that I don’t recognise a sort of problem in my clear obsession with food). in any case, handlebar is a rather aptly named bikers’ bar that just sort of happens to serve remarkable food, and at prices that are more than reasonable for quantity and quality – I think this must have to do with their really rather rural location.
there is an indoor section with a cool bar done up all bikerly with details like a pool table made in the style of a model car, and bike paraphernalia all around. the kitchen is outdoors in a sort of separate shed, and is of an open style so you get to see the chefs pottering about in the kitchen. if the weather holds up – and really I think that’s the only way you’re really going to enjoy this place – sit alfresco on the very pretty movable benches. you can see across the straits and over to malaysia (if you tried very hard) and it’s really rather cooling in the nighttime.
service is friendly, attentive and young, which helps further perpetuate the laidback atmosphere. your table is laid out with kitschy things like american-diner-style squeezy sauce bottles, as well as salt-and-pepper shakers in the style of grenades. good design quality all around, and barely feels like a part of singapore.
we started off with their house salad, which really was a medley of raw – truly raw – vegetables with a ranch dressing. we found this quite unusual because asians don’t really have broccoli or button mushrooms raw, and it was edible but I’m not quite sure I’d order it again just because I am a salad leaf type of girl. not a bad dish if you do like this sort of things though. we also had starters of both the chicken and beef sausages which were decent, with snappy outsides and well-seasoned insides. nothing too special but it really did whet the appetite.
what really was amazing – and makes this place such a great find – is the steak you see up there. cooked perfectly to medium for us and served with two sunny-side-ups on the side, this was pure gorgeousness. the fillet was made up of already-cut pieces of meat and bound with bacon on the outside, and had the sheer heft and beefiness of really good meat. too good. I still dream of this dish. if you dip your beef into the yolks of the egg and let it swim a little in that yellow richness, I promise you the experience gets almost to this sort of mystical plane from which you will now forever judge other pieces of meat and find them lacking.
the beef comes with the choice of either one portion or two, and I think that about one-and-a-half is perfect for a single person, so perhaps it’s a good idea to share (then again, I’m hardly going to complain for having to eat both on my own).
we also had an order of ribs which came with potatoes and a side salad – tender and very tasty, though possibly not as transcendental as the beef. but then again, what is? the fish and chips were crisp and came with a choice of breaded or battered. we took the batter and were happy with the thin and crispy crust.
the only dish I didn’t fully appreciate was the roast chicken, which was a tad dry. it wasn’t too bad, but it was a negative in what had been a meal of complete positives. it did come with homemade (and very tasty) baked beans though, as well as mash, which were both very good.
this was a fantastic meal, and I recommend you pay it a visit. you will, however, need a car, or be prepared to pay a bit more for a taxi to take you all the way in. the owner told us that this was a new location as their contract at the previous location had been discontinued, and I don’t think that’s a bad thing. they have a good crowd of people who come for a laidback atmosphere, and the food is reasonably priced and very good. I would expect to pay quite a bit more if this place was located closer to town – and then it would become less of a gem.