Makansutra: Handlebar still revving on
Handlebar gets the attitude and food right
A lot of eateries here don't last long and close even before their lease is up. It is that competitive.
So what makes some last decades, even more than a century?
Indian Muslim food veterans such as Singapore Zam Zam have been at it for over a century, while the Red Star Chinese restaurant and the Peranakan Inn folk have been around for more than 50 years.
Then there is Handlebar, which is among a list of casual eateries that have stood the test of time for two decades.
Its concept may seem like a limited idea - a place for the few Harley-Davidson roadies to call home, to makan and park their machines.
I had not visited Handlebar since it moved to Gillman Barracks and since Makansutra listed it in our food guides some years back.
But it all came back when I quietly drove there for a meal twice a few weeks ago.
And I got a sense of its mojo, the reason for its longevity.
It is the stubborn belief in the concept, the painstaking detail in design - loud, proud and very creative - and the whole vibe and attitude of the joint.
You will find a handlebar turned into a bar seat, bench seats on wheels, old bike helmets used as lamps, and Janis Joplin, B.B. King, Eagles and Metallica on a curated playlist.
And the food is good too. The menu is simple yet tries to stretch the palate somewhat.
The Fish and Chips ($17) is one of the better ones I have had in Singapore.
The flaky pacific dory fish is huge, with fries and tartar dip.
The batter has the kind of crunch and crisp that you won't forget and the fish is juicy inside.
I needed vegetables so I ordered the most sinful one on the menu, Cauliflower Frito ($7) - lovingly battered and not overly oily and great with the barbecue sauce dip.
Just add beer to complete the picture.
The Old School Fried Pork Chops ($15) come battered and chopped into bite-sized pieces, and with a tomato relish.
It is soft, like the meat was cooked sous-vide. It is hard to dislike this one.
Handlebar is looking to up the ante with the menu and has introduced items like Curry Chicken ($15), but I will stick to the bikers' original favourites.
10 Lock Road (Gillman Barracks)
Noon to midnight daily (1am on Fridays)