You would think that the second F&B establishment to open under the Proof & Company Spirits umbrella, after its wildly successful speakeasy 28 Hong Kong Street, would be yet another cocktail bar. Crackerjack, though, is a curious hybrid of bar, restaurant and coffee shop that offers more. So much more.
Crackerjack, located along Tanjong Pagar Road on the fringes of Singapore’s Chinatown district, is a coffee shop, restaurant, and bar all rolled up into one. In the day it operates like a hipster co-working space; the smell of good quality coffee beans permeates the air, a convivial atmosphere of laptop keyboards clattering, hushed conversations, and the occasional laughter.
The coffee programme led by award-winning barista Bronwyn Serna here, in particular, is probably one of the best offered in the area. Filtered single origin coffee and espresso based coffee drinks featuring a custom blend from local roasters 2 Degrees North ensure that mobile workers and office drones in the area get their caffeine fix in the mornings. The Breakfast of Champions ($6++, above), a latte that uses grated cereal and cereal-infused milk, is also cheeky fun.
As lunch swings by, the kitchen rouses from its more sedate breakfast pace into a fuller swing. Chef Alysia Chan – previously from Meatsmith and Cocotte – puts out various lunch plates that are full on flavour but does not weigh heavily in the stomach, perfect for avoiding food induced coma post lunchtime. The Chermoula Chicken ($20++) is inflected with Middle-Eastern influences, while the Lentil Mushroom Scotch Egg ($18++) reinvents the Scottish favourite.
Lunchtime is also when the cocktail bar starts to liven up – its Highballs ($16++) are popular with those who need a tipple during lunch; the grape version, with a jasmine base and a hit of cognac, is particularly popular. But its when evening comes that the bar gets really busy.
The bar is co-led by Peter Chua and Zachary de Git, both who are powerhouses in the local cocktail circuit. And the cocktails show – the simple appearances of the cocktails at Crackerjack belie the amount of preparation that goes into each one of them.
Everything Is Awesome! ($18++), for example, has Lego brick-like garnishes made from watermelon and basil with gelatin that’s the result of some culinary magic; the drink itself – made with gin and vermouth – really is quite awesome. Even the classic Rum Old Fashioned ($20++) sees a blend of different rums before being introduced to demerara sugar – not just simple syrup – and chocolate bitters for more complexity than your usual version.
By now the kitchen is also running at full speed, and it’s not bar snacks they’re putting out – not even the classier bites offered by its elder sister 28 Hong Kong Street – but fully fledged meals that’s surprisingly family-friendly. The chermoula chicken reappears here family-size with the Whole Roasted Chicken ($58++) that comes with a boatload of sides; the grilled Local Barramundi ($24++) explodes with the freshness of the sea, and there’s even enough vegetable dishes make even the most introverted vegetarian happy, such as the delicious Zucchini Faro Salad ($8++).
“We want this to be your ‘Third Place’, a home-away-from-home and an office-away-from-work for friends and neighbours,”, says Spencer Forhart, chairman of the Proof & Company collective. “We have great food and drinks that won’t break the bank, so that you can come for breakfast one day, coffee in the afternoon, and then return for dinner that same week.”
If that’s their aim, we daresay they may have just hit on a winning formula.
Address 43 Tanjong Pagar Road Singapore 088497
Opening Hours 8am to 12am, Monday to Saturday; 10am to 4pm Sunday
Tel (65) 8121 1462
Crackerjack is located at 43 Tanjong Pagar Road.