When it first opened in 2014, Pince & Pints Restaurant and Bar at Duxton garnered a reputation for excellent lobsters fresh off the Atlantic Coast. Fans would therefore be glad to know that the brand has finally expanded with a second outlet in the midst of idyllic Katong.
As I walked down a charming stretch of shophouses on a drizzly Thursday evening, the restaurant’s classy, black-framed, parlour-like full length panels stood out from the rest of its neighbours. A well-stocked bar awaits you as you enter, and I was quickly ushered to the main dining area upstairs.
Its minimalistic and loft-like layout struck a chord in me immediately; there were huge long wooden tables for a big gathering, but the faux-marble tops for the small tables made the area inviting as well. Later did I know that the inspiration behind Pince & Pints was from the owner’s own experience in New York and Boston. As I sat down, I can’t help but notice the interesting grid-like cage ornament on their menu, much like the famed grid street system in New York City (or it may just be my vivid imagination).
Pince & Pints prides itself on serving the best and freshest lobsters in town. Twice weekly, fresh Atlantic lobsters are flown in from the US East Coast, and are transported and stored in in-house tanks before being served to their customers. Incidentally, its distributor also provides fresh seafood to other leading establishments, so you will be guaranteed of the authenticity and the freshness of the crustaceans that you get here.
The Lobster Roll with an exceptional Bun!
We started off with one of their in-house cocktails, Highway Run Into The Midnight Sun ($18++), a refreshing and somewhat overly tangy concoction of gin, vodka and fresh lime with a hint (or two) of cilantro. This is a drink best enjoyed after a brief walk in the summer heat.
The Mixed Platter ($32++; custom tasting portion) was served up next. A mound of perfectly fried fish skin, fried calamari and straight cut fries, what sold me was the incredibly light and refreshing tartar sauce. To be honest, I was never a fan of tartar sauce because of the overly briny versions that we normally get elsewhere. I, however, found myself going back for the restaurant’s tartar sauce more, and more.
The Live Oysters ($30++ for half a dozen) were fresh and decently plump with a pleasant brininess to it, and went really well with the light and tangy red wine vinaigrette.
The Lobster Roll ($58++) is the restaurant’s signature dish. Lobster chunks were laid on top of a toasted bun, and the portion was generous in a light coating of garlic aioli. I was completely thrown away by the bun: it was buttery, golden, and pillow-y. The lobster chunks were intensely savoury, and its salinity paired really well with the sweet and crispy bun. An In-house butter sauce was also provided, and when eaten with the roll gave a smooth round-up to the moreish flavours.
We also had the Steamed Live Whole Lobster ($58++) over the more common grilled version, and had no regrets. Steaming the lobster retained its moisture, and this resulted in a briny but sweet, and somewhat mineral-ly tasting juicy piece of meat. The same butter sauce was served alongside, which when paired with the meat gave it an excellent mouthfeel.
A Divine Lobster Mac & Cheese
Another great rendition of a classic dish would be the Lobster Mac & Cheese ($29++). Glistening in a golden hue, this version had elbow macaroni and large chunks of lobster meat tumbled in a cheesy yet light béchamel. The addition of the lobster lends the dish some salinity which cuts the creamy sauce and making it easy on the palate, and the addition of cognac gave it a slightly flavourful dimension. I am normally averse to creamy dishes, but the lobster macaroni and cheese was certainly an exception. One thing to note: I wish the macaroni could have been cooked a little lesser for a touch more bite in each spoonful.
We also had a Lobster Chowder ($38++) to taste, but I personally found it a bit lacklustre; other than the lobster meat, the dish did not really scream lobster, or seafood to me. It was also a bit heavy on the palate, and I felt it was more of a leek and potato chowder instead of a lobster one.
All in all, I am impressed with the freshness of the ingredients by Pince & Pints. The lobster roll, steamed lobster and lobster mac & cheese were all great; the pairings of the ingredients were thoughtful, yet when it’s time for the star ingredient to shine, it was duly allowed. While the price may be a little steep, the restaurant’s speciality of fresh Atlantic lobsters has its own appeal. Also, if you are looking for somewhere to give yourself a treat, or to have a place to wind down after a hectic week with a group of friends, Pince & Pints deserves a consideration. Oh, and I intend to hunt down the bakery in Chinatown that supplies them their bread for the lobster roll. It was that good.
Thank you Pince & Pints for the invitation.
This article was written by Yan Zhi.