In the ‘40s, Magnolia opened Creameries Milk Bar at the old Capitol Building and subsequently it became Snack Bar in the late ‘60s. Back then, Singaporeans would make a beeline for its ice cream, milkshakes and cakes before/after catching a show or as a place to go for social gatherings. With the arrival of McDonald’s and Swensen’s on local shores in 1979, urban redevelopment plans for Capitol Theatre in 1984 and Singaporeans’ penchant for the new and novel, home-grown Magnolia Snack Bar ceased operations in 1988. Now the folks at The Capitol Kempinski Hotel Singapore aims to recreate that “wholesome family diner experience” with a side of burgers, hotdogs, ice cream and milkshakes in Capitol Milk Bar, an all-American-themed retro diner.
For the burgers, what stands out for me is the Capitol burger ($19++, pictured above). 150g of Black Angus beef patty (no fillers, just pure beef) wrapped in a thin omelette with cheddar cheese and drizzled with black pepper mushroom sauce, mayonnaise, and ketchup. Seems to me like it’s paying homage to the Ramly burger you get at pasar malam, although it’s definitely the more atas version. The beef patty is pleasantly moist and flavourful.
Another burger that we tried is the Stamford ($18++, above): pulled pork cheek with arugula, pickled cucumber, yuzu cabbage slaw, and apple butter barbecue sauce. The citrusy tang of the yuzu cabbage slaw coupled with the crunchiness of the thinly sliced cabbage provide great texture and flavour. The yuzu cabbage also complements well with the pulled pork without being overpowering.
One thing to note, you can customise your burger by choosing the type of buns you want: charcoal brioche, multi-grain, or sesame wheat, all made in-house.
If you’re not in the mood for meat, you can opt for Ava Gardner ($22++, above) which comes with greenland shrimp, butterhead lettuce, avocado all tossed in cocktail mayonnaise and stuffed in a brioche roll. I enjoy the brioche roll the most. It is moist, dense and buttery.
The greenland shrimp or pink shrimp can be found in cold parts of the North Atlantic sea; they are known for their firm texture, delicate and sweet flavour. However, we find that the prawns lack flavour.
Out of the 4 different types of hotdogs Capitol Milk bar has on their menu, we got our hands dirty with the Classic New Yorker ($9++) and Rio Rita ($15++, above). The former: pork sausage, mustard, ketchup, cucumber relish and crispy onions, and the latter consists of spicy beef sausage, arugula, chili con carne, mozzarella cheese and tomato salsa.
Both are decent but I prefer the Classic New Yorker as I love the combination of oily pork sausage with pungent mustard. Simple and delish. One suggestion: the buns perhaps can be buttered and put on the grill to enhance the flavours and texture.
All hotdogs, burgers and sandwiches are served with a side of your choice of salad greens, curly fries or sweet potato fries. If you are really hungry, you can upsize your hotdog to 1 m (which adds up to $36++ for the Classic New Yorker) and well, also because #eatingfortheinsta.
The mac & cheese ($10++, above), one of the sides you can order, is made with parmesan and mozzarella. It is not jelak but I find it underwhelming. I would prefer to have more punch from the cheeses. Other than that, it is a decent m&c with perfectly cooked macaroni and peas added for texture.
Although nowhere near the hyperbolic milkshakes you get at Black Tap, the sundaes and milkshakes here are a sight that can make any kid (and adults too) grin from ear to ear. The colours and effort that goe into making these milkshakes should not go unnoticed.
The knickerbocker glory ($15++) is a layered ice cream sundae that is served in a tall glass and eaten with a long spoon. Forgoing the traditional vanilla ice cream, salted caramel ice cream is used instead. Capitol Milk Bar’s version includes fruit compote, maraschino cherry, raspberry coulis and burnt meringue on top. The contrast of savoury and sweet in the dessert and together with the tartness of the raspberry coulis make this icy treat an absolute delight.
We also tried the banana split ($15++, above): vanilla, chocolate and strawberry ice cream with caramelized bananas, raisins, banana vanilla espuma (or banana vanilla foam), freeze dried banana and banana rum glaze. One of my dining companions pointed out that the ice cream seems to have the same taste as the ones you get from the uncle/auntie at the pushcart selling ice cream (Oops!). It is unapologetically sweet and nostalgic.
Another dessert that we had was the profiteroles ($13++), choux pastry filled with vanilla ice cream, vanilla chantilly (read: vanilla whipped cream), topped with roasted almonds and a drizzle of chocolate sauce. Parts of the choux pastry are a tad dry but it is made better after eating it together with the ice cream and whipped cream.
On the whole, the grub is decent and the price is reasonable given the close proximity to town and being located in a luxury hotel. I would love to bring my parents here to relive their younger days and hear them speak of the fond memories they have at the old Capitol building.
Capitol Milk Bar
Arcade @ The Capitol Kempinski, #01-84B Stamford Road, Singapore 178906
11am – 9pm, daily
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Written by Vanessa Khong. Vanessa is someone who enjoys checking out the local food scene. She believes the way to her heart is through her stomach.