Yes, we finally made it to Esquina! This place has been on my radar ever since we got back home but friends dreaded the long wait if you go late as there is a no reservations policy. So last Saturday, the Man and I decided that we will try our luck at dining at Esquina. We figured the wait can’t be that bad if we go early to beat the crowds.
We arrived a little after 6pm and the seats inside Esquina have already been filled. Thankfully, it was a rather cool evening so we were pretty contented to be seated outside. Wasn’t really in the mood to be inside with the crowds for it does seem a little ‘intimidating’ for a relaxed weekend date night even though the Man thought that it was pretty cool to be seated at the counter to look at the chefs prepping our food.
Inspired by the colourful tapas bars found in Spain, Esquina provides visitors to the culturally-rich Chinatown with an added choice of European cuisine to the ethnic enclave. Open from Mondays to Saturdays, Esquina serves mainly modern Spanish tapas in a unique location that is surrounded by post-war colonial buildings, hip coffee joints and ‘old school’ home style restaurants. Leading the culinary direction for Esquina is Michelin star Chef Jason Atherton, the protégé of celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay.
We were familiar with the concept of Tapas but as this was dinner for us and we were famished from having a relatively light lunch, we went on a ordering spree. [Silly me forgot to pack my camera so most of the photos are taken with my iPhone using the Instagram app.]
First of our tapas order, the fried quail’s egg, prosciutto ham served along with green and white asparagus. The Man was a little surprised at the size of the dish given that it was about S$21. But we learnt to manage our expectations and remind ourselves that it’s tapas (ie: bite-sized portions). If we’re not full, we simply have to order more. ;p
Oysters with vietnamese dressing priced at S$7 a piece. Wasn’t wildly impressed with the dressing nor the oyster.
This was a dish that the Man almost didn’t want to touch for he was never a big fan of anchovies. But surprisingly, this became one of our favourites for the evening. The grilled baby romaine lettuce seasoned with a touch of truffle honey and served together with the manchego cheese and anchovies worked really well.
Remember there are no mains, just small dishes to be shared. We thought that it was a good thing that there were just us two, can’t quite imagine if we had gone in a bigger group. The logistics of sharing the two-portion dish might prove a little challenging if you are hungry. Next up the Iberico pork and foie gras burger. I tasted more beef than any semblance of foie gras in this tiny burger, though the Man said that he tasted the foie gras. But try as I might, I simply couldn’t taste it. I guess it was overpowered by the flavourful Iberico pork then.
Are you keeping count of the number of tapas dishes that we have ordered? A total of four plus a plate of rosemary fries which I saw no point in taking the pic. Even after five dishes, we felt that we needed a little something more. Yes, told you we felt mighty greedy that evening. So we went ahead to order the ‘Special of the day’, which happened to be the most expensive item on the menu but also the largest serving in terms of size. It actually looked like a mash-up of grilled items from pork, chorizo sausages to pineapple and finally topped with deep-fried crackling pork skin. This dish screamed cholesterol overload! And it was.. we were too full after this.
But there is always room for dessert – a simple grilled pineapple salad with lime sorbet and coconut lime jelly that’s light and not overtly filling.
And a wonderful evening spent with the Man chatting, he had been really busy at work and so it’s nice to see him a little more relaxed on a weekend instead of spending majority of it looking at the markets.
Would we come back? Maybe not in the near future, prices for the small portion of tapas didn’t quite do it for us though both of us agreed that this would probably a fun place for drinks and just some nibbles after you’ve had dinner elsewhere.Esquina Address: 16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore Telephone: +65 6222 1616 Opening Hours: Mondays to Fridays (12pm to 2.30pm, 6pm to 10.30pm), Saturdays (6pm to 10.30pm), Closed on Sundays