The restaurant has all the hallmarks of a too-cool-for-school hangout: blaring music, lighting so low we’re forced to switch on our phone’s torchlight function to read the menu like aunties, and a somewhat blasé sommelier.
Not another one of those joints with a more happening vibe than food, we think, as we’re seated at a small, dark counter away from the bustling chef's table, where equally stylo-mylo chefs work purposefully in the open kitchen.
Le Bon Funk — such a cool name for this natural wine bar-restaurant at Club Street. No wonder; the edgy The Lo & Behold Group is behind this over a month-old diner. Its moniker, says the press releases, is “a tongue-in-cheek jibe at the misconception that all natural wines taste funky”. It’s co-owned by Japanese-Canadian Keirin Buck, former sous chef at the lauded Burnt Ends. He turns out an ever-changing menu of “fine casual” sharing plates with a gourmet focus here, featuring house-cured meats and house-baked bread.
THE LOOK: Vintage Parisian bar-meets-Singaporean shophouse chic. The prettiest feature is the marble-topped bar fronting a gold-framed wine rack. The broad counter facing the open kitchen is cosy but functional, while the handful of leather booth seats look passably comfortable.
THE SERVICE: We ask for the menu. And then we’re ignored for the next ten minutes. The place is jam-packed this Friday night with the breezily affluent set (and also during our subsequent visit on a public holiday). The 57-seater is understaffed. “We’ve been waiting to be served for 10 minutes,” we huff to the head sommelier/manager (who worked at a one Michelin-star restaurant in the South of France) when we finally get her attention. “We’re very busy,” she replies crisply, as if we should’ve known better. She softens a little when we decide we’re too thirsty to be combative. Instead, with some restraint, we politely ask about the restaurant’s natural wines. “The minimum criteria to be classified a natural wine is to at least be organic,” she explains. Natural wines refer to "low intervention wines" that utilise as many natural products and farming methods as possible, with no pesticides or synthetic ingredients used.
From the few bottles we’ve sipped before, they usually possess livelier flavour profiles, though some can be a little sharp-tasting. She recommends the Crémant de Bourgogne ($18 a glass), Burgundy's answer to champagne. It is extremely tart and dry.
We prefer the warm service rendered by her colleague, a genial assistant manager named Kher Meng. From this point, we hijack Meng whenever he whizzes past us en route to what seems like other more pressing tasks. For our second wine, he suggests a quirky Austrian red, the Tschida Brutal. It’s a blend of over 10 grapes including the less common Zweigelt, known for its floral, spicy character. Rather steep at $24 per glass ($250 for a 1.5L magnum bottle), but so damn delicious: soft on the tongue and sensuously plummy with fluttery violet notes.
Check out the photo gallery above for our undercover review of the food here.
29 Club St, Tel: 6224-1490. Open daily except Sun & Mon. 5.30pm to midnight, last orders 11.30pm (food); midnight (drinks). www.lebonfunk.com