ESQUINA TAPAS BAR
THE BUZZ Launched in December 2011, Esquina has taken tapas to the next level. Newly appointed executive chef Carlos Montobbio has created a new menu highlighting Spanish flavours with new twists and creations.
AMBIENCE Featuring an open-kitchen concept that invites guests to watch chefs in action, Esquina brings together exuberance and refinement from the bustling al fresco and communal seating through to the second floor dining room, which is perfect for intimate group dinners or private parties. Iron seats and industrial décor amid wooden interiors give the restaurant a modern look with just a touch of rustic, and a sense of the vibrant Spanish culture with its lively atmosphere.
FOOD & DRINK Once settled in with Esquina’s signature sangria, which is the restaurant’s modern take on the classic drink, picks from the snacks section of the menu was the fresh French oyster with jalapeno ponzo, topped with salmon eggs and pickled ginger flower started the meal. The dish set the tone of the rest of the dinner, with hints of Asian influence and spices without straying far from Esquina’s Spanish cuisine influence.
Next up was the delightful Spanish Nigiri, a sushilike bite that is essentially salted cod topped with roasted bell peppers. With the kitchen in full swing, quick to follow was the Spanish Omelette, a modern spin on the traditional Spanish omelette sandwich with its crisp sourdough base, topped with a potato, onion and egg pancake and olive oil caviar.
A fast favourite was the Chorizo croquetas that is crisp on the outside and a comforting warm with bits of chorizo within, served with sweet piquillo pepper. And no Spanish meal would be complete without a serving of Iberico ham, that Esquina takes it one step further by offering only the finest Jamon Iberico ham, which comes from free-range black pigs that roam in western Spain and feed on sweet acorns called ‘bellota’. Lending a dash of tanginess to balance the flavourful ham is a serving of bread topped with fresh tomato.
One exciting dish that was a burst of freshness and flavour, was the grilled baby romaine lettuce, that came with a dash of creamy herb yogurt, crunchy macadamia Consistently refreshing, Esquina is definite go-to for modern Spanish tapas and fresh seafood in a vibrant atmosphere. With a variety of dishes for every craving, the tapas are best shared with friends that have a sense of adventure. nuts, and a drizzle of cider vinegar glaze. Already somewhat acquired flavours on their own, it could be difficult to serve them individually, let alone bring these flavours together in a dish. But Chef Montobbio does so with a modern flare that is a refreshing delight.
A must-try is the Mini Spanish Breakfast – a signature dish that chef brought over as a classic to the new menu – which a delicious combination of flavours and textures, presented in a photoworthy display. Served in an eggshell that sits in a ‘nest’ of wood pieces, the scrambled egg with chorizo, mushroom and chorizo ketchup, topped with chorizo bits must be enjoyed in one scoop from the bottom of the shell to the top.
Seafood dishes are another must-try, as the Japanese sardine with Samfiana or the Grilled Spanish octopus becomes quick favourites at first bite. The sardine comes with a scattering of grilled zucchini, a bright orange spoonful of roasted bell pepper sorbet and a dollop of eggplant caviar. In contrast to the sardine, the grilled octopus is served with a simple selection of lightly burnt onion, pickled oyster leaf and Jerusalem artichoke puree. The star of the dish is the fresh and springy pieces of octopus that is first sous vide before being seasoned, grilled and served.
If tummy space permits, the Spanish paella with panfried red snapper, chorizo, grilled squid and snow peas is a familiar treat, as different flavours come together in a savoury serving of rice. Other popular favourites are the Braised beef & pork cannelloni with foie gras, cepes béchamel and black truffle, and the pigeon, which chef reveals has become another favourite among diners.
Chef Montobbio also shares his passion for wine with diners in a chef choice wine list that is inspired by his personal favourite wines, while a selection of Spanish brews and cocktails provide something for everyone. Just like the snacks and mains throughout the dinner, desserts are an inspired surprise, such as the chocolate ice cream sandwich, which is a rich chocolatey ice cream served on a crisp. For a refreshingly fruity end to the meal, the green apple sorbet with cherries, crumble and white chocolate parfait is tangy, sweet, cold and refreshing all at once, and the perfect way to wrap up the flavours of the meal. ADDRESS 16 Jiak Chuan Road
OPENING HOURS Mondays-fridays: 12pm to 2pm (Lunch) 6pm to 10:30pm (Dinner) Saturdays: 6pm to 10:30pm; closed on Sundays
PRICE Starters from S$6 Mains from S$20