In a city where it can often feel like the seven million inhabitants are living on top of one another, it’s always nice to find a hidden little spot that no one knows about. Well, at least it’s a nice idea, but obviously when new places open on this small island, it’s never long before the secret gets out…Especially if Maximal Concepts are the ones behind it, such as with their new bar Stockton.
Stockton is conveniently located just below another of Maximal’s venues, Fish and Meat, although you have to know that in order to find it. Once you actually find it, you’ll discover that the staff on the door seem to wish you hadn’t, and they will provide you with the sort of attitude that makes you either want to turn around and walk out, or shout at them. Sound similar to the group’s other venues? I thought so too.
Once you’re past the doorman/woman you can kind of see why they don’t want to let just anybody in here; the space, modelled on 1890s London is pretty cool. This was a time when life was less fast-paced and the rich were very, very rich. All of the furniture – leather chairs and sofas, beautiful wooden tables, little knick-knacks and even art – is antique, sourced from markets in Paris, giving the place a distinct air of elegance.
Although it’s not actually a private members club, the staff’s attitude, the sophisticated décor, teamed with low lighting and the list of ‘house rules’ might suggest otherwise. Strangely enough, however, although one of the rules states, “any request for Jaegerbombs or such lark will be met with disdain and possible requests for immediate departure,” smoking inside is tolerated. Call me what you like, but that instantly puts me off.
The long bar is stacked high with an impressive selection of spirits. These are used to make some pretty off the wall cocktails, all of which have their own story to tell about the origin of the three core spirits that were popular during the 1800s – rum, whisky and gin. We were impressed by the Ribston Apple Punch (made with spiced rum, amaretto, apple cider, honey and cinnamon), as well as the Hendricks and Tonic, obviously served with cucumber and on this occasion also rose petals. What we were not so impressed by was the $130 price tag per drink.
Stockton is evidently more of a watering hole than a restaurant, but they do offer a decent food menu, a lot of which is actually a little unsuited to the low coffee tables on which you eat. The Scotch eggs were possibly some of the best I’ve had. Served with chorizo and a drizzle of paprika aioli, they had a subtle smoky spice to them that made them truly stand out.
The yellowtail crudo was also pretty fantastic. Each piece of fish on its own wasn’t anything special, yet the sliver of kumquat and Serrano chilli, as well as the drizzle of basil oil added a completely unexpected splash of excitement to the dish.
Although a nice idea in theory, I was least impressed by the cracked mud crab. Served with little gem lettuce and avocado for you to build your own little wrap, the crab unfortunately had a rather overpowering flavour and even the odd little bit of shell.
From the specials menu, the steamed mussels in a creamy garlic sauce were wonderfully plump and tasty, if a little difficult to eat on said low coffee table. Had I been able to, I would probably have dipped in every single piece of soft, fluffy bread to mop up the sauce; instead, I asked for a spoon and scooped it straight into my mouth.
The beef stew, also from the specials, was equally delicious. Perhaps it would have been wise, though, for the chef to cut the beef into smaller chunks before serving it, rather than allowing us to battle with it. Regardless, the beef was tender and the flavour was excellent, perfect for dipping chips into, considering bread was off limits.
Service was fairly attentive, with staff regularly offering to change our plates. The dishes, however, were small, we had only one cocktail each and shared a bottle of wine between the four of us; we were therefore neither tipsy nor full, yet the bill amounted to over $600 per person! (Note: the cheapest bottle of wine on the menu will set you back $620…) There are bars that are more welcoming with more reasonably priced food and drinks that I’ll probably be more willing to visit than return to Stockton in a hurry. That said, I may be tempted to have just one drink and some Scotch eggs and call it a night.
32 Wyndham Street
Tel: +852 2565 5268