Timbre @ Substation is one difficult place to find, typing in Substation into Google Maps and following the automated voice of my phone led me to the edifice of Substation itself. It is a building of impressive colour and vibrancy and home to both a theater and a gallery however Timbre was nowhere to be found. After exploring the Substation itself and everything within a 50m radius while receiving weird stares from strangers seemingly enjoying my predicament, I still could not find Timbre. Exasperated and feeling a tad foolish, I called Sharon from Timbre. Thankfully, she quickly directed me to the left side of the Substation, the small alley in between the Substation and the Peranakan museum and to the right of the alley lay Timbre. Sharon would later describe the location of this particular Timbre as the garden of the Substation and it was a perfect description. This small adventure of finding Timbre reminded me of Harry finding Platform 9 and 3/4, it had to be between 9 and 10 but there was simply no visible entrance in sight. But quite like Platform 9 and 3/4, it was a gateway to a different world.
Timbre has recently initiated a menu change, bringing in even more new dishes that continues to threaten the size of both my wallet and my belly. I managed to try out a few of their new dishes and they more than upheld the good reputation that Timbre has already built. For those who already love their previous menu, don’t worry, many of their mainstays continue to remain on the menu including my own personal favourite Roasted Duck thin crust pizza.
I tried out a variety of their tapas which I decided only after a while as I was completely spoilt for choice and torn between so many mouth-watering choices. In the end, I settled for the Smoked Salmon Focaccia, Ribs and Wings, Nachos as well as Sweet Potato Fries. This was complemented with two different mains, the Sausage Arrabbiata as well as The Half & Half Pizza. While at first I was slightly skeptical about the price of the various tapas and sides, I immediately understood the reason for it, the serving size was huge! Just ordering 4 different sides was akin to ordering 4 different mains.
The Smoked Salmon Focaccia was the same size as many of the sandwich mains for every other eating establishment. The smoked salmon was well complemented with melted cheddar cheese between slices of focaccia bread with a side of sweet potato fries. For those of you like me, who love smoked salmon, this is the dish for you as it completely melts in your mouth and for once, the bread does not overpower the taste of the smoked salmon.
The sweet potato fries had to be the absolute highlight of this entire meal, though I was initially torn between the truffle fries and sweet potato fries, I was pleasantly surprised at being rewarded for sticking with the sweet potato fries. The sweet potato fries were crisp like normal fries but still retained it’s sweet taste which was an unexpectedly brilliant combination. An additional benefit to the sweet potato fries is that it is possible that it could be healthier than normal fries which assuaged any guilty conscience that you may have. I loved it so much that I ordered a second serving and promptly devoured all of it as well. There’s nothing more to say then that this dish is an absolute must try and reflects on the ingenuity and creativity of Timbre’s chefs.
The Ribs and Wings was the perfect choice for someone who is always torn between the two and the buffalo wings were fantastic. They were a little bit spicy but it was still tasty even for someone like me, who is usually unable to take very spicy food. The chicken that Timbre used were definitely more of the giant chicken kind quite unlike the baby chickens that other places usually use. The ribs though were a tad disappointing as I usually prefer my ribs to be soft and the kind that really melts in your mouth but these were more tough and difficult to chew. The Nachos on the other hand were great, they were generous with the minced beef, guacamole and cheese sauce and is a great snack food.
There were quite a few nice sounding pastas but I chose the Sausage Arrabbiata and when it came, I was pleasantly surprised to find it in a jar. Sharon was quick to explain that the change from the usual big pasta plates to these cute little jars came as a result of the small tables at their Arts House outlet. However, it wasn’t simply as easy as snapping your fingers as a lot of meticulous thought and effort went into it. For example, the size of the opening had to be big enough for people to eat out of and jars big enough to fit the original serving size had to be found.
While the pasta was delicious, it paled in comparison to the pizzas that Timbre has to offer and which along with the sweet potato fries are the must try dishes! The pizzas are also incredibly value for money as they cost around the same as most of the sides and tapas. I chose the Half and Half which was the best of both worlds choice which allowed you to choose two flavours to create your own flavour and I chose their new Erdinger Battered Barramundi and my own personal favourite Roasted Duck. The Erdinger was chunks of beer battered crispy fish topped with tartar sauce and while I was a bit hesitant at first on whether it would go well on a pizza, it was incredibly delicious due to the thin crust that still allowed me to enjoy the fish.
As I was writing this, I noticed that I was incredibly hesitant on a lot of Timbre’s new dishes before ordering them but I was consistently surprised at how well seemingly contradictory ingredients and dishes went together. This really speaks at not only the creativity of Timbre and their chefs but also their fearlessness in pushing for different food. Beyond just the food, eating at Timbre is always unique because of the experience and atmosphere that Timbre has effortlessly created, quite like a secret garden. You will easily understand what I’m saying when Timbre is compared with cafes. Many people have taken to the quaint atmosphere of cafes and the intricately beautiful coffee and brunch. However, while cafes are great for two friends meeting up, it is the modern day example of “Two’s a company but three’s a crowd.” The small size of cafe furnitures leave us inevitably squashed together, awkwardly sitting in fear of moving and hitting some stranger on another table. Being unable to share any food due to the limited variety and tiny serving sizes is also a problem that many of us have faced. It is exactly for these reasons that elevates Timbre as a far superior choice and alternative. Not only are the serving sizes of their food large enough to be shared, their incredible variety like the best buffets, means that there’s always something for everybody.
Timbre is also famous for their live music, something that a lot of other establishments lack, and they also have my favourite local band, the Goodfellas whom I previously interviewed as well! Everyday is filled with the best of our local talent at the 3 different Timbre outlets and you are bound to have a great time with these bands. The different schedule for the different outlets are as follows.
Timbre @ the Substation
Mon – Allie & Benny (9:15pm – 12:30am)
Tues – 53A Acoustic (8:30pm – 11:45am)
Wed – Jack & Rai feat. EIC (8:30pm – 11:45am)
Thurs – Goodfellas (10:15pm – 12:45am)
Fri – 53A (10:30pm – 1:45am)
Sat – Goodfellas (10:30pm – 1:45am)
Sun – Timbre Music Academy All-Stars (9:15pm – 12:30am)
Timbre @ the Arts House
Mon – Surath & Rene (8pm – 11:15pm)
Tues – JFK Trio (8pm – 8.45pm) | Goodfellas (9:30pm – 12mn)
Wed – Enigma (8:15pm – 11:30pm)
Thurs – The Common People (8:15pm – 11:30pm)
Fri – Sweatshop Jam (7pm – 9.15pm) | Goodfellas (9:30pm – 12:45am)
Sat – The Common People (9:30pm – 12:45am)
Timbre @ Gillman
Mon – The Switch Gang (7:15pm – 10:20pm)
Tues – Merry Bees (7:15pm – 10:20pm)
Wed – Reverie (7:15pm – 10:30pm)
Thurs – 53A (7:15pm – 10:30pm)
Fri – The Common People (8:00pm – 12:15am)
Sat – JPS Trio (8:00pm – 11:30pm)
All in all, eating and chilling at Timbre was a wonderful experience, it served as a respite from my terrible week. The chill atmosphere was filled with life and vibrancy but at the same time, it was chill enough that life slowed down and I was just able to have a great time relaxing with my friends. The food is amazing and they will never stinge on serving size and you can be guaranteed amazing live music both covers and originals from the best of our local talent. Check out Timbre’s Facebook page and website for updates on special events and promotions to look out for.
Timbre @ the Substation is a beautiful place that Timbre wants to emphasize is still OPEN despite the various construction works going on. The next time you and your friends are at a lost of where to go, look no further than Timbre.
Photo credits: Pictures of food is taken by Jonathan Wong
Others are taken from their respective Facebook pages
Special Thanks to Sharon Chan, Marketing Communication Executive of Timbre for her incredible hospitality!