For a bar that has no kitchen of its own—Madam Geneva shares one with its sister restaurant Saxon + Parole next door—this gin-focused cocktail den delivers a deliciously creative bar menu true to its vintage Singaporean style.
By far the best dish on the menu is the Prawn Dumplings ($10), a small bowl of plump shrimp dumplings in an addictive hot and sour broth. The soup sings with the classic flavors of Southeast Asia: lemongrass, lime, fish sauce, chiles. The spiciness factor is rather mild for those of us who enjoy the heat, but overall it's a good complement to the fruity and herbal notes of the bar's specialty cocktails.
Steamed Duck Buns ($10), pillowy rice flour buns filled with duck confit, have just the right amount of bite—not too mushy, not too chewy—though they could use more meat. The menu says hoisin sauce accompanies the dish, but a mysterious mayo-like sauce appears instead.
A platter of Forever Crisp Chicken Wings ($10) arrives smothered in a Szechuan-style sauce. It's the least elegant dish on the menu to eat (the sticky sauce coats your fingers), but the crunchy texture and spicy-sweet flavor is spot on.
The Spicy Singapore Laska ($12) has all the makings of a standout dish: ho-fun noodles (flat wide rice noodles), fresh crab meat, crunchy beansprouts, and hearty coconut curry broth... except on two separate visits the kitchen forgot to make the noodles for the dish. A prep chef's mistake, the bartender claims.
Though I'm a bit suspicious the second time around, the bartender gives us sheepish shrug and slings up a couple of refreshing summer drinks. After another order of prawn dumplings and duck buns, all is quickly forgotten.
About the author: Nancy Huang, who comes to New York by way of Los Angeles, writes The Wanderist, a food and travel blog of adventures here and abroad. She loves noodles, subway maps, and word games.