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Restaurant Review: Chow Down On Terrific Tapas And Beer Ice Cream At Esquina

The Spanish restaurant also makes lettuce tastes so good

Photos: Esquina

The culinary performance of smoke, steam and clattering of cooking tools in full view is always something to look forward to at an open kitchen restaurant.

And if it’s a good-looker like Chef Carlos Montobbio who fronts the foray, let’s just say you’re in for a good show.

The Barcelona-born chef leads the culinary force at the almost six-year-old Esquina, where diners can savour contemporary cuisine built on a foundation of Spanish and Catalan flavours. In the similar presentation of Spanish tapas, dishes served here are best for sharing, something the Chef Carlos has gleaned from the time he started cooking in Singapore.

“They really like the concept of tapas, which is all about sharing food with your beloved ones,” says Chef Carlos. “I think because it is similar to dim sum and also because it suits many occasions, from romantic dates to dinner with friends and birthday celebrations.”

Tsarskaya Oyster ($7 each)

Well, share we must, starting with the Tsarskaya Oyster ($7 each) and the Smoked Mackerel ($6 each) from the Snacks section of the menu. Straight from the Pacific Ocean, the former has its sea flavours lifted thanks to the heat of Jalapeño ponzu and toppings of salmon roe and ginger flower, while the latter boasts a piquant profile with the likes of smoked mackerel slices laid on a crispy corn tulle, dotted with eggplant miso and pepper puree.

Also from the same section, a meaty option is the Dingley Dell Pork ($14) that has the UK-reared meat braised for a day, before sous vide for 18 hours to achieve a desired tenderness. Pan seared till the exterior forms a nice crisp, the pork is laid on a bed of chipotle mayonnaise and served with pickled pear slices for palate cleansing.

Grilled Baby Sucrine Lettuce ($12) 

From the Soil section, we greedily tucked into the Grilled Baby Sucrine Lettuce ($12) that was glazed with cider vinegar, before laid on an all-encompassing herb yoghurt. A distinct charred taste is also noted with every bite of the crunchy lettuce, proving that vegetarians can have in on the fun. Another dish to order is the Angria Potato and Truffle “Gratin” ($20), boasting pan-fried blocks of  35 potato layers that are stuffed with manchego cheese. The potato dish is then served with Iberico ham, a blend of a runny egg yolk and burnt onion sauce, and shavings of luxe black truffle.

If you’re hankering for more seafood, you best be ordering the Spanish Octopus ($28). Sous vide and then grilled, the tendril is naturally salty, hence the sweet corn sauce serves as a welcome accompaniment.

BBC ($15)

For sweets, order the BBC ($15) which Chef has created out of his love for our local banana cake. The dish serves delectable banana sponge cubes that are to be enjoyed with Chef’s house-made beer ice cream. Created depending on the type of beer the restaurant has on hand, the ice cream truly had us lusting for more, just like an incurable alcoholic.

Address: 16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089267
Tel: 6222 1616
Website: www.esquina.com.sg
Operating Hours: 12pm to 2.30pm, last seating at 2pm (Tuesdays to Fridays); 6pm to 10.30pm, last seating at 10pm (Mondays to Saturdays); Closed on Sundays