That day we happened to be near bukit merah and decided to meet Justin, Hammy’s friend for lunch. He knew the area better and suggested going to Colbar. At first impression of the name, I thought it was a posh restaurant and bar where working executives patronise. And I was pretty horrified inside because I was just wearing a regular polo tee and jeans and you know, hammy and I aren’t really ‘atas’ people. But really, I didn’t know what to expect. So we took a five minutes drive from Justin’s workplace and arrived at Wessex Estate. What a charming place indeed, and what came up was totally unexpected.
Amidst some potted plants and a small path down a grassy slope, lies Colbar. It was only when I reached the that I realised that the name was actually short form for Colonial Bar, and not cold bar that I had thought. Hah.
(picture credits to hammy)
The front of the eatery. I’ve never seen anything like this in Singapore, and how quirky to place an antique weighing machine right in front of the gates! Anyway, the entire place just makes you feel like you’ve entered another era in Singapore’s history. Colbar was a canteen for old British army troops in 1953, but had to shift a few kilometres from Jalan Hang Jebat to its present location due to construction of Ayer Rajah Expressway (AYE) in 2003. The previous establishment was gently dismantled and its parts re-used for reconstruction of a new building that looks exactly like the old one, which is why the decor is so rich in old flavour.
Walk out of the ordering area and you are led into a large verandah for alfresco dining. I was surprised to see the place quite packed and patrons an equal mix of caucasians and Asians. I’m guessing everyone loves how seamless this humble tin shed coffeshop has integrated both western and local cultures.
Grilled chicken $10, the portion was really small, considering the price. The chicken tasted average, but what I found interesting were the canned button mushrooms in steak sauce, although I wished they were fresh mushrooms instead.
Colbar has an air about it that makes you want to go back again,
not for their food, but for the laidback and quietness that is away from the hustle of the urban city. I would definitely want to visit it at night to see more of its magic come to life. It would be such a nice place to just chill and live in the moment, 50 years ago.