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Best. Coasters. Ever.

The fact that it’s taken me almost two weeks to recover and recap the 4th of July weekend is a pretty good indicator that it was a fun one. Saturday’s festivities at the Terror Club more than lived up to the hype (so much so that I forgot to take pictures), while Sunday was pretty much a non-stop stuff-my-face-fest, including a 4-hour brunch at the Fullerton and a surprise dinner at the American Club.

We didn’t get to the “Terror Club” (its name derives from a British war ship, I believe) for the fireworks until about 7pm, but it was surprisingly easy getting out there. After a longish red line train ride out to Sembawang, we met up with some friends at the station and took a 5-minute free shuttle bus ride out to the base. I’ve gathered that the area is an American enclave catering to the military and perhaps other American corporations, as the Singapore American School is also located close by. The part that we saw looked like a school or a country club. There was a massive green field (including a baseball diamond!) where all the tents and the stage were set up, and we also passed by tennis courts, a swimming pool, and the all-important bar (more on this in a second).

After we passed through metal detectors to get in, I almost felt like I was transported back to the US and was attending a fair or a music festival or something. There was a country band up on the big stage, there were tons of little kids running around with their faces painted (plus a fair number screaming their heads off on the moonwalk), and there were enormous lines for pitchers (!) of beers and margaritas at the American- (and Cornellian-) owned Brewerkz and Cafe Iguana tents. BTW, Cafe Iguana’s margs were totally (and a bit shockingly) decent. At $10 SGD apiece they weren’t even that offensively overpriced.

Unfortunately I forgot to take a photo until the party started windng down, but I swear that field was packed at one point!

Foodwise, TGI Fridays had the longest line of all (and I’m embarrassed to admit I stood in it myself), while a bunch of other standalone places also had stalls hawking stuff like burgers, hot dogs, and lots of pulled pork sandwiches. Because my Friday’s taco (singular) was so pathetic, I later picked up another taco from The Mexican, which I would also rate.

Anyway, as we were eating our Fridays’ fare, the fireworks started going off. Honestly, they didn’t seem to last very long, and I was mildly annoyed to have ash falling on me (thanks for the advanced warning about that Crystal!), but that was sort of beside the point. It was great hearing patriotic music and being amongst other Americans. I counted about 10 Red Sox hats, and even better didn’t see any yankees gear.

After the fireworks we met up with some more friends (and also bumped into a bunch of the hubs’s co-workers) and just hung out drinking beers (and eating free Snickers ice cream bars) while the country music band played some decent covers (Steve Miller Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, etc.). When the show ended a little after 10 we grabbed one more drink at the Terror Club bar, which is apparently only open to civilians during the 4th of July celebration. That’s where I ran in to this guy:

God bless America. Also note the cigarette behind his ear:

I think I mostly got a kick out of this because it seemed so thoroughly un-Singaporean. From the bar we were able to easily order a cab with one of those new badass iphone apps (LOVE avoiding phone interaction when I can, not to mention the GPS usually knows my location a whole lot better than I do), made it home by midnight, and promptly passed out from exhaustion. It was an all-around excellent night.

On Sunday at noon I met up with my Aussie co-worker and his girlfriend for free-flow champagne brunch at Town Restaurant at the Fullerton Hotel. Per usual I was running late so I had to grab a cab over there even though it’s only about a 15-minute walk from our apartment. I must say driving up to the grand entrance certainly added an air of fanciness to the proceedings, bolstered further by the cadre of sunglass-clad security dudes stationed around the marble lobby when I walked in.  Apparently the President of The Democratic Republic of the Congo was staying at the hotel; he actually walked through when I was waiting for my friends. There were a bunch of guys (a couple with ponytails) in ugly suits and carrying odd-shaped briefcases. I’m pretty sure they actually had machine guns in them. It felt like a scene out of The Bourne Identity.

As for the brunch itself, I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it was quite worth the hefty price tag (SGD 158++). Here’s a list of pros and cons:

PROS

  • They sat us right away in a spacious booth with a nice view of fountains
  • As soon as we sat down they brought over a bottle of champagne (Moet NV), and kept it coming for the next four hours
Never a bad sight.
  • There’s a really nice atmosphere with big picture windows and panoramic views of the river, as well as someone playing music on a piano
  • Foodwise, there’s a wide range of cuisines including a seafood/raw bar, Japanese, Chinese dim sum, Indian, Italian and Western (including crispy bacon, pizza and eggs benedict). And there was a great dessert station replete with pastries, cupcakes, fresh fruit and a chocolate fountain

CONS

  • The Western station did not have my favorite brunch foods: pancakes, waffles and omelets made to order. Other than the dessert station it was all very savoury
  • The lobster from the seafood station was among the worst I’ve ever had. It was so dry and almost…mealy. I actually gagged. Methinks they need a Bostonian up in there to show them how to cook lobstah properly. The oysters were pretty good, though
Blech. Not so much an issue of freshness, it was just overcooked.
  • This is ticky-tack, but apparently a few of the other brunches around town feature vintage champagne, which is definitely a step up from NV. I don’t have any specific complaints about the Moet though 🙂
  • There are about five steps in the middle of the room that divide the dining area from the raw bar, Japanese sushi area, Western food and dessert station. When you’re in stilettos (as I was), and carrying a plate of food it’s a little bit precarious to navigate. It gets harder with each round since you’re that much tipsier!

We were there for almost four hours and had a truly lovely time. I’d read online that you sometimes get shunted out of these places after two hours so they can turn the tables, but we experienced no such treatment. Other than telling us “this is the last pour of the day” just before 4pm (fair enough), the staff pretty much left us alone (in a good way).  All in all it was great for a special treat, and I look forward to sampling some other brunches around town in the coming months.

I was still stuffed (and slightly buzzing) when we headed out for cocktails with some of the hubs’s work colleagues. His boss is a member of The American Club, which I initially thought would be great to join, until I learned dues are, like, $10,000. Maybe someday. But anyway, he very generously took us all out for dinner there, and it capped the weekend off perfectly. I believe we ate in the more casual “Eagle’s Nest”  (apparently not everyone’s up on their Hitler history), which has a massive menu akin to the Cheesecake Factory and a casual, family atmosphere that sort of reminded me of The Ground Round (and I mean that in the best possible way). In addition to more beers and margaritas, I feasted on a delish pulled pork sandwich, spinach and artichoke dip, and molten chocolate cake. I felt like such a pig – particularly after that brunch! – and yet at the same time it all just felt like home. Clearly eating like that is not a regular occurrence, but it was a really fun way to celebrate America at its best (and worst, ha).

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