Restaurant, bar and butchery in the quaint Balestier neighborhood
Think dining options in Balestier and you’ll likely arrive at bak kut teh and chicken rice. But silently gaining a loyal following in the ‘hood (and beyond) is Cavemen. It’s a restaurant and bar, but also a butchery/artisanal grocery store.
The hype: Think dining options in Balestier and you’ll likely arrive at bak kut teh and chicken rice. Beyond that, the hipster crowd may surface bicycle cafe Wheeler’s Yard, while drinkers will certainly know of Starker Bistro at Zhongshan Park. But silently gaining a loyal following in the ‘hood (and beyond) is Cavemen.
The vibe: It’s a restaurant and bar, but also a butchery/artisanal grocery store. Find the restaurant and bar offerings in one space, and the butchery and retail portion in an adjoining space. When dining or just having a drink, we find the outdoor terrace seats to be especially charming when the weather is good.
The food: The proximity of the butchery and the restaurant is important, as you can actually have your meats cooked and dine there. Plus, there’s a really good range of cuts to choose from.
We tried the more unique 30-day sake dry-aged USDA Prime Ribeye ($21.50/100g) that’s packed with umami (apparently the work of the sake koji), and we’re dying to head back and try the bourbon aged one, which is constantly sold-out. To dine-in, just fork out a cooking fee (from $15 for a 400g steak), pick a sauce, and pair it with as many sides as you want. We highly recommend the Sauteed Brussels Sprout ($6) and the buttery-good Mash Potato ($6).
As for the restaurant menu itself, expect sharing plates big and small. Start with the appetising Baby Squid ($14) that has a small spice kick and a gooey egg to drench everything together. And you can’t go wrong with the Burrata ($16). Their version takes the classic Italian dish, gives it a shio kombu treatment, and somehow that works wonders. The salinity just pairs perfectly with the fresh tomatoes and cheese.
Don’t skip desserts. The homemade Chocolate Lava Cake ($14) topped with vanilla ice cream sounds like a common offering, but trust us and try this one. It isn’t overly sweet thanks to generous use of dark chocolate.
The drinks: They’ve got a pretty well stocked bar, and they’ve got eight signature cocktails to show for it. We’d definitely order the Old Street ($19). It’s a smoky, plummy take on the Old Fashioned, making it a potent yet easy drink to enjoy more than one of. Or for something more refreshing, get the Tropical Babu ($16), a tequila-based drink served in a cute little bathtub.
Wines, beers and sakes are available too, and interestingly, you can also get Cavemen’s own brand of craft beers on tap ($13.80-$15.80/glass) or by the tower. A tower of IPA for $75 sounds like a great way to start a heady night. And only on Tuesdays, get to purchase bottles at retail prices from their adjacent grocery store to have at the restaurant without corkage.
Why you’ll be back: Balestier residents are lucky to be located near this spot that delivers on all counts. But even if you don’t stay nearby, the quality found at Cavemen beats many establishments found in more downtown locations. Goes to show good grub can be found anywhere.