Singapore - Nice Bites from Esquina Tapas Bar
Jason Atherton of London's 1-Michelin-star Pollen Street Social makes his first foray into Singapore with this interesting tapas bar, Esquina - appropriately located in a corner shophouse - on Jiak Chuan Street, just off the dining enclave of Keong Saik Road and Bukit Pasoh Road.
We had some very interesting tapas creations yesterday evening:
- Barbecued mackerel served atop an intensely-flavored roast almond romesco - nice textures from the nuts;
- Ham croquettas - tasty, but the potatoes were a bit too mushy;
- Gambas in a spicy-sweet tomato dressing (the prawns could have been fresher);
- Confit of rabbit & seafood paella - lovely balance of flavors & textures. My personal fave dish for the evening;
- Iberico pork & foie gras sliders. These are great, but pretty expensive at S$25++ (US$20++) for a pair of smallish sliders;
- Slow-cooked egg with bravas sauce & potato foam. A touch of molecular cooking here, but the dish did not exactly wow me.
- Black olive sorbet with strawberry gazpacho. Something seemed lost in translation here - I thought it was a neither-here-nor-there kind of dessert - lacked the refreshing, light taste of a sorbet, and the olives did not exactly provide a sweet ending one would expect from a dessert;
- Santiago tart with vanilla ice-cream studded with chopped apricots & raisins - the tart was nutty (loved the texture) but strangely has this strong scent of truffle oil. Not to my taste.
Still, a delightful spot for tapas, and certainly better than most other tapas bars in Singapore's rather weak Spanish food scene.
I can't wait for Jason Atherton's Singapore outpost of Pollen Street Social - called simply "Pollen" here, to be opened in June 2012 at Singapore space-age-looking Gardens at the Bay's Flower Dome, the futuristic giant conservatory.
16 Jiak Chuan Street
Tel: +65 6222 1616
On New Year's Eve? We were there at 5 minutes to 6pm and our party of 3 were the first to be seated. Esquina has only 16 seats, hence the first-come-first-served policy.
How many were in your friend's party? At 6.30pm, I think there were 6 seats left, though not all together.
How was Buyan, I'd always wanted to try that - authentic Russian?
No, on Dec 28th. My friends arrived at 6:30pm sharp and it was full. So if I were to visit there again, I would be there before 6pm! Buyan was just ok, we were at the third floor which is for casual dining. I iike the Borscht. They said it is authentic Russian but I have never been to Russia so no way to judge if that is true!!!
Oh wow klyeoh - I think I may have seen you and your companions there on NYE. My brother, SIL, husband, and I were the lively (or loud) party in the corner, enjoying some wine and catching up (we were meeting in SG on holiday - we were traveling from Palau and they from Chiang Mai). They sampled some Iberico ham but my husband and I were not quite hungry enough to try anything. We hoped to return to Esquina (great staff!) but ran out of time. I'll post soon about our trip which took us from Palau to SG to Penang, with a layover in Seoul...we just got back to Boston last night. We are already planning our next trip!
(the prawns could have been fresher); Man! I would expect Gambas in S'pore to be alive, swimming and uber fresh??!!
Everyone, nowadays, are adding foie-gras to sliders!! Someone better comes up with new ideas soon!!! Its becoming another 'molten chocolate cake' phenom!!
Cannot wait to read your 'comparison' review when you try out London's top tapas bar - Fino and Barrica this month!!
BTW, best tasting single Tapas dish was not in Barcelona or San Sebastian but Majorca!! Char-grilled 'Hay-Sparrow with anchovy paste'!! So aromatic and savoury with a hint of 'Chinese salted shrimp paste'!! Just the thought of them makes me salivate!!! Love little birds! Rotisserie French Ortolans!! Thats the ultimate!!!!! Yummmmmm!
i have been there (october 2010). i remembered the architecture (which was stunning - well worth a visit if you are into architecture and design); the food, not so much.
it wasn't bad food, just food that is not particularly exciting, especially given the pedigree of the chef. the only thing i remembered was that every single dish that i tried was missing that "zing" factor.
"not particularly exciting"
"missing that "zing" factor."
That seems to be common refrains heard amongst Hounds about Atherton's food - whether in Shanghai, Singapore or back in London.
Personally, I was a tad surprised that Pollen Street Social in London's got 1-Michelin star. It's competent, but certainly not of that level. Don't think I understand those Michelin inspectors.
Only the desserts which I'd written about here, huiray:
I met up with fellow Hound, limster, and we went on a DIY food safari which included "40 Maltby Street" and Jose, that insanely popular tapas bar on Bermondsey Street earlier. Pollen Street Social was our stop #3, and we only did the sweets.