The Mad Poet

The buzz: Apparently styled after the drinking dens frequented by the likes of Hemingway and Wilde (though it’s hard to picture either of them among all the suits), this bar is one of the latest arrivals at China Square.

The décor: Dark wood, exposed concrete; minimalist-industrial decorators really have their hands full in Singapore right now. Leather booth seats mix with high-tops that spill out into the shaded courtyard. Still, it’s a bit edgier than your standard CBD spot.

The drinks: A snappy cocktail list (from $15) with drinks like Basil & Caviar (complete with spoonful of the good stuff), Southern Rebel (a nicely refreshing twist on the mint julep) and Death & Resurrection (it’s the cumin that packs a punch). They also have an extensive range of bottled craft beers and ciders (from $10).

The food: Treads a fine line between down-to-earth dishes and fusion fare. Bar bites steal the limelight with offerings like cream cheese-stuffed jalapeno poppers ($10) and deep-fried wild mushrooms with truffle mayo ($8). There are healthier options too, like a beautifully-seared Yellowfin tuna steak ($20).

The music: Pretty standard hip hop, pop and indie—nothing too offensive unless you only want to listen to death metal.

The crowd: The post-work corporate crowd (plenty of agency folk in the hood), of course, plus some stray tourists who’ve wandered over from Chinatown.

Why you’ll be back: It’s a solid bet if you’re in the area. If you’re not, it’s worth going out of your way for their value-for-money $10 lunch options.