north border bar & grill, buona vista

decent american food at this colonial house hidden in the rochester park. done up with a bar, al fresco dining areas and two floors of sitting, this place has food you want to eat when you think of american chains like TGIF and billy bombers, but at standards those places aspire to. not revolutionary food, but very much well worth returning to – singapore doesn’t have many restaurants that do a large american menu well, and the surroundings are gorgeous.

let’s be frank – I like this place primarily because it has good ribs, and it’s far more accessible than handlebar, though I think the latter might have better food. we started off with nachos, a large plate of them, accompanied by a red salsa and what I think is a green tomatillo/jalapeno dip. the candyass hot ass-kickin’ buffalo wings were fried leg meat tossed in a slightly spicy sauce, mostly serviceable but the best starter was the portobello with crab meat, a large flat mushroom topped with shelled crab and cheese – broiled and served alongside a salad. pretty good stuff – the crab was well tasty, the mushroom meaty.

there were a couple of soups on the table – the offering of the day was a thick pumpkin rendition, creamy and very much appreciated by my sister, but the gumbo was less well-received. it doesn’t mean it wasn’t good though – I rather liked the creole flavours and the beans in the soup but my mum found it rather overpowering: the heavy use of spices are a clear remove from milder cream soups and clear consommés. just keep it in mind if you get this!

the mains were pretty good – tasty, tender baby back pork ribs slathered in a thick barbecue sauce served alongside fries and greens; pink, rare beef on my steak salad; a good portion of shrimp in the auntie helen’s whoop yo’ ass pasta ordered mildly spicy; and a surf-and-turf of large king prawns and a slab of tenderloin. I’m happy to pass on that the beef was tender and very tasty as well, and that the mash was good creamy stuff.

the menu’s pretty cute in its way, especially with its bombastic titles for the wings and pasta – I figured this might mean they felt particularly strong about those dishes, and it was a bit of charm from what I stereotype to be typically american (judicious use of these ebullient epithets keep it on the safer side of kitsch). I think in general I would rather head to handlebar for good american dining – the flavours there are more outstanding, though the portions here are competitive and it’s far more accessible.

prices here are on the high side, but on par with many restaurants about town – the charm here lies in your surroundings: the al fresco area is very pleasant to dine in, there’s a large bar on the ground floor of the refurbished colonial building they’re housed in, and the rochester area does promote lingering over a meal with friends. graze is just next door too, so you might want to head there for dessert if you’re so inclined.

North Border Bar & Grill and North Border Bistro Bar
2 Rochester Park
Singapore 139213
tel +65 6777 6618

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