Food and Travel (Singapore) - - Reviews -

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

TEL 65/6222-1616

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

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