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Esquina Tapas Bar @ Jiak Chuan Road

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Chef Jason Atherton is a press favourite - having his go at nearly most of the highly publicized eateries in town. Think Keong Siak Snacks and Pollen as his other sidekicks. Booking a place is out of the question and twice, I was shown the door. Thinking that time and tide will wait for some men, all it really took was arriving early enough at 6pm sharp to nab one of the last remaining seats for the first dinner seating.

esquina

Menu with all the delicious written.

savour love

SAVOUR2013 love spilling over from visiting chefs.

scowl

Sitting close by the bar means you not only get to watch your dinner getting prepared but also catch a chef's scowl in action.

sangria

Sangria ($13)

Purportedly a must order, this was hardly acoholic with a lovely sangria form that would keep afloat. I never encountered a Sangria that does not reek of too much alcohol that whacks me in the head hard till Esquina's. While the hardcore would brush this aside as "juice" or "mocktail", I find it a delicious and beautiful balance of red wine, brandy and soda. Seconds anytime!

roasted corn

Roasted Corn ($5)

These were with compliments from the chef whom we saw scoot off hurriedly when we arrived. I suppose Keong Siak Snacks needed some help in the kitchen? These well roasted and salted kernels are crazy addictive. I would trade my tortilla chips for these anyday.

spanish omelette

Spanish Breakfast
Slow cooked egg, bravas sauce, potato and crispy iberico

This has been over featured in menus all over, making it somewhat passe already - offhand I can recall the following places offering similar ones. To name a few...

Pollen - Slow cooked egg, "English Breakfast" ($29)
Jaan - 55’ Rosemary Smoked Organic Egg
Otto Bombana - Confit of "Taiyouren" Organic Egg
Ember - Pan roasted foie gras with fried maitake, porcini sauce and 1 hr poached egg

The point about this dish then is the lukewarm runny egg with the rest of ingredients that makes this an easy one to slurp. Without the three cubes of potatoes, this would have lacked some flavour amidst the goo.

fries

Potato Fries with Rosemary Garlic, Salt and Chorizo Ketchup ($11)

These are a tad oily but worth every calorie. The flavouring is spot on, particularly the tangy chorizo ketchup.

burgers

Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burger ($26)

burger

Mini burgers of pork and foie gras, but I could hardly taste the foie gras in this delicate number. Loved the pickles though!

gherkins

A special love for avocado and gherkins.

paella

Squid, Gambas and Chorizo Paella, Gremolata ($23)

A must order for every table, these teeth blackening number tasted quite like risotto with the flurry of seafood piled on. Undeniably flavourful, this was one of the better paellas around.

sangria cone

Also on the house are the mini Sangria cones that were dished out promptly after the mains. A lovely gritty texture with mild notes of alcohol, this was an absolute palette cleanser. If they had it as part of their dessert range, I would gladly order it.

chocolate

Chocolate Tea Ice-cream, Sponge Sacher, Pickled Blackberries, Hazelnut Praline ($14)

Recommended of the three in the menu, it showcases several textures. The sacher was a dense chocolate that went brilliant with the chocolate tea icecream.

green tea

Japanese Green Tea Cake, Calamansi Curd, Fennel Seed Ice-cream, Sake Blueberries ($13)

We were half hearted about ordering this Japanese inspired dessert. Like kueh lapis, the green tea cake morsels were richly perfumed. I particularly loved the daring culinary experiment of fennel seed. 

The bar is terribly small - for a 15 seater (I think!), all of us had a clear view of what the kitchen folks were busy with and I had my pores split open from the heat coming from the deepfryer half the time. It is novel having chefs cooked infront of you but that also means heart to heart chats are thrown out of the window. Expect leisurely to be unheard of in this hurried tapas bar.

no service charge

No service charge nor GST resonates well with me. 

chairs

A frivolous love for their thoughtful saddle like chairs, prevents one from slipping off easily! I sat snug through the meal at least!

I like Esquina and would in a heartbeat rank this as a favourite tapas place next to Catalunya, except that the latter is more authentic to its Spanish roots. The question is then, do Spanish only do the best tapas?

Of his three collaborations, Esquina stands out more for its quality food. Price point is an between Pollen and Keong Siak Snacks. On a frivolous note, Esquina is a place to see and be seen, judging from the number of well dressed and goodlookers waltzing in and out.

Esquina Tapas Bar
Jiak Chuan Road

A foodie born to eat, shop and travel. Forced to work.

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