Blink and you’ll miss it. There was no sign that indicated the presence of a rooftop bar in an unassuming shophouse hotel near where Tras Street bends. After taking the lift to the 3rd level and climbing a flight of stairs, there I was surveying Tanjong Pagar’s shophouses from a height.
Levant was established in February 2021 by IlLido Group – the same chain behind names such as Braci, Carne Singapore and Gemma Steakhouse. Given the bulk of rooftop bars in Singapore’s CBD are concentrated around the Marina Bay area, Levant offers a breath of fresh air with its alternative view. While this rooftop bar is not at a particularly high level, the relatively low-rise shophouses surrounding it means that the views are particularly decent with some iconic buildings like Pinnacle at Duxton, Oasia Downtown Hotel, etc fully visible from the bar.
The venue is quite spacious. It is centered around a bar with seats where the mixologists prepare cocktails. Around it are more intimate tables which I observed to be quite spread out. The best views at Levant are from the tables overlooking Pinnacle at Duxton. However since it was raining during the day I went, I was seated instead in a table facing Tanjong Pagar Road.
As the name of the bar suggests, the menu reflects some inspiration from The Levant – a region that in the strict sense, includes places such as Syria, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine and Jordan. The scope is further expanded here as I was to realize later and there was plenty of Mediterranean Europe to be found here as well.
The menu reads like names you would expect to find in a Greek and Middle Eastern odyssey – Beirut, Crete and Byblos are sprinkled throughout the menu. I tried the Sea of Citrus (S$22), a refreshing drink to start with containing Tequila Blanco, Imperial Mandarin, Blood Orange Sherbet, Grapefruit and Amalfi Lemon.
For something on the sweeter side with a hint of spice, the Sangaree Rose (S$18) is a beguiling option as there is Szechuan Pepper thrown in alongside hints of Cinnamon with Cocchi Americano Rosa as base.
As might be surmised with a name like Levant, mezzes feature heavily in the bar bites menu. Dips with pita bread were highly recommended. I went with the Pepper Muhammara (S$16) which was delightful. I loved the garlicky, creamy paste but I thought the amount of pita bread that came with it was not enough to finish the dip.
One of the most ubiquitous bar bites out there is the Fried Calamari (S$18) which in Levant was lightly tinged with saffron oil. The server was careful to point out to me that their calamari is not the supermarket variety and that was certainly evident given the rougher cuts and smaller diameter of the squid rings that appeared on my platter. This is also the same style of calamari that I remember having in Mediterranean Europe.
I also enjoyed the Smoke Duck and Truffle Samosas (S$18). While the stuffing inside was rather fragrant, I thought the highlight was the sweet and tangy mango sauce that came with it.
I was intrigued by the Whitebait Fish Fries (S$18) and ordered it out of curiosity. However, I found it a tad too salty for my liking.
I visited on a Wednesday evening and found the crowd to be rather manageable. I like the vibe and the drinks were rather intriguing. However, even if it’s for run-of-the-mill libations such as wine and spirits, the venue still offers an ambiance that one could easily enjoy. It is chill enough for a nice after-work drink session or for a meet-up with friends. Price-wise, expect to pay a similar range to other shophouse (not in rooftop) bars in the Tanjong Pagar area.
32 Tras Street
You can check out the full menu at Levant Bar here