It was a trying week at work, so when the girls at the office asked if I wanted to grab a drink or three after work last Thursday, I jumped at the chance. We ended up at this little bar on Desker Road called Bellwethers.
We didn’t stay at one of the streetside tables, though it was a nice night for it
Last time I passed by here, there were only a few people at the place and it was the same last Thursday, which I really liked. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a hoppin’ and happening bar where part of the vibe is to see and be seen. But most of the time, I like a chill bar where I can just relax with a drink and talk — or not talk, as the case may be.
Drinkies! Pints of Mac’s Great White and a lone Steinglager (mine). By the end of the evening, I think I drank more than this! Beers and ciders go for $8-10 each
Bellwethers has that nice chill vibe of a neighborhood hangout where everyone can just relax — though perhaps it’s too chill. When we got there, one table was occupied by people we later realized must be the managers or owners of the bar. They were all on their laptops, including, as it turned out, our waitress whom we interrupted from her online shopping at ASOS…. I don’t begrudge the shopping and I’m all for the waistaff relaxing if the customers have all been taken care off.
However, our waitress got our orders wrong several times and at one p’oint, got our order but failed to inform the kitchen. The result: 45 minutes later, our chicken wings and fries still weren’t on our table! Still, there was a good selection of cheap beers and ciders as well as other alcoholic drinks, and we were determined to relax, so we let the poor service pass. At least, this once. Let’s see how they do next time.
Bellwethers is situated in an interesting little area. Jalan Besar is on one end of it. Known to in-the-know foodies because of Swee Choon and its in-demand dimsum, word is that Jalan Besar is fast becoming a hipsters’ hangout. I suspect in the next couple of years it will go the way of Tiong Bahru and Duxton Hill, which started out as under the radar hangouts and are now tourist attractions.
Did some digging on Desker Road and it turns out, it’s one of the oldest red light districts in Singapore. I’m not sure if it still is, though I wouldn’t be surprised, because one of the streets near Desker is Petain — named after a French general — and it’s one of the lesser known legal red light districts in Singapore. Don’t know who named the streets, but I have to hand it to him. He has a sense of humor, since the French word for prostitute is putain — pretty close, don’t you think?
You know you’re at a proto-hipster bar when a bicycle is used as toilet decor
Anyway, I like the seedy rundown undertones of the area — it makes for a change from the always polished, spic-and-span antiseptic aesthetic of most of Singapore. To be sure, for the most part, I like Singapore’s almost obsessive compulsive orderliness. It makes life easier. But a country needs a bit of grit and and underbelly to keep things real, I think.
Perfect place for couch potatoes to park their bums
Funny footnote to the evening: We broke up at around 12.30am and hailed cabs outside the bar. Even if it was after midnight on a weeknight, we were still surprised at the number of empty cabs plying that little street. We each got taxis in no time. Now that I know the background of the place, no wonder taxis are plentiful there!
Happy hour: 6-9pm, 120 Desker Road
Tip: From what I’ve read, if you’re not going to sample the services of the ladies in the area, you might want to avoid Desker and Petain on weekend evenings, when workers flock to the area looking for, uhm, momentary companionship.