Incongruous decor aside, modern dive bar Nemesis at Duxton Hill will shock you with how good its cocktails and pizzas really are.
Stepping into Nemesis felt like entering the set of a psychedelic horror movie. Between the neo-classical design elements, garish pink and neon pink accents, and messy graffiti, the just-launched modern dive bar on Duxton Hill can be disconcerting to say the least.
It wasn’t, on hindsight, the best place for a work conversation.
Thankfully industry insiders had intimated that the drinks at Nemesis would be more than worth the trip, so we abandoned any pretence for getting work done and focused on having a good time instead. Nemesis, after all, is opened by the folks behind the speakeasy Junior The Pocket Bar, well-respected as tastemakers in Singapore’s drinking scene. But where Junior explored serious themes in the drinking world – pop-up concepts included Pacifica, which paid homage to tropical Tiki escapism, or Magnolia, a look at New Orleans’ role in shaping drinking culture – Nemesis is instead a colourful, anarchic deep dive into cocktail-fuelled dystopia.
There are three sections dedicated to cocktails in the drinks menu. There’s ‘Nolo Aperitivo’, which offers no- and low-alcohol tipples for those who prefer to hold on to their sanity in such a space. But they offer flavour still – there’s Sunset Drip, a fruity aperitif with grape and bitter orange notes, while Iaso is a more herbal highball with flavours of spicy fennel and bittersweet gentian.
Then there are the ‘House Cocktails’, of which we really enjoyed Manly Glass. This is a serious twist on the classic Negroni with the addition of sherry and a touch of strawberry. It sounds innocuous, but it’s really spirit-forward enough to nudge you towards the edge of the abyss.
And if you love your Martinis, they have three in their very own section (with apparently, more to come). We enjoyed Wise Crack, a floral and herbal number with notes of sage and elderflower. Rather trippy, this.
But the Italian-inspired food at Nemesis will blow you away.
The innocuously-named Olives came as green olives that’s been stuffed with goats cheese, and then deep-fried into delicious marble-sized morsels. Then there’s Lasagne, but here the layered pasta is instead turned into chunks that’s also battered and deep-fried into scrumptious savoury cakes. It’s vulgar sacrilege to the Italian soul, but what tasty sacrilege!
Less horrific – for the arteries, as much as the culinary desecration – is Bitter Leaf, in this case an almost normal salad of radicchio, endive, and sliced pear, dotted with walnuts and dollops of blue cheese.
Shockingly good, too, are the pizzas. Here the pies range from classic – Marinara and Margherita, for example – to the less common. The latter included Cacio e Pepe, the cheese and pepper topping it more commonly found as as a pasta than on a pizza, as well as the delectable (and downright bizarre) Potato. This is a pizza topped with continental-style potato salad, its vinegar-laced zingy creaminess a lovely contrast with the crusty pie.
“Carbs,” I declared to my colleague suddenly, even as I picked up and polished off the last piece of fried lasagne.
“Carbs are my nemesis.”
[Image credits: Superadrianme.com]
Address 37 Duxton Hill, Singapore 089615 (Google Maps link)
Opening Hours 5.30pm to 10.30pm Mondays to Saturdays; closed on Sundays
Tel (65) 8028 3687