Dinner @ Esquina

January 9, 2018 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

Wanting a casual yet fun place to celebrate my friend’s birthday, I remembered Esquina which I last visited in 2012. Yes, that long ago. And having enjoyed my previous dining experience at Esquina, I was confident it won’t disappoint. Celebrating birthday of a important special person you see. Keke. And thus, reservation was made for a Tuesday evening via Chope.

Knowing that it’s notoriously difficult to find a parking lot in Outram Park, one can say my friend and I were very lucky because we easily found an empty parking lot along Teck Lim road. Or… Maybe it’s because we arrived pretty early at 7.20pm? Hmm.

The first thing I noticed about the restaurant was that the interior was brighter than it used to be. And this time, I managed to get my preference of counter seats. Yeah.

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Tsarskaya oyster, jalapeno ponzu, salmon roe, pickled ginger flower, $7 each (above) – I am very sure I have not gotten over my phobia of oysters. A slight taste of fishy-ness could make me cringe. So thankfully this didn’t. But, it’s not like I would recommend this dish as a ‘must order’ too. But hey! That’s coming from a person who’s careful with oysters. So I guess oyster-loving customers may enjoy this.

2) Esquina’s Spanish omelette, $6 each (above) – Confit onion, potato, crispy bread, olive oil caviar. Instead of an eggy omelette, its texture leaned towards a pancake instead. And that of course made me, a pancake lover, really excited. But that instead made my friend, who loved his eggs, a little disappointed. Haha. And it was through our interaction with chef that we learned the batter was created by blending the ingredients before cooking. Ahhh. Thus, the pancake similarity. This dish has a ‘yes’ from me.

3) Iberico bellota “5J” with pan con tomate, $30 (above) – This was a little too much in terms of portion for 2 people. But I enjoyed this nonetheless.

4) Potato and truffle “gratin”, burnt onion sauce, organic egg yolk, iberico ham, $20 (above)

5) Dingley dell pork jowl, chipotle mayo, pickled pear, $14 (above)

6) Pigeon, forest berries escabeche, burnt rosemary polenta, crisp shallots, $24 (above)

7) Spanish suckling pig, rhubarb and apple chutney, mulled wine jus, $32 (above) – Really good.

8) Sea urchin and lobster paella, saffron aioli, snow peas, $32 (above) – And of all the dishes we had, this was my friend’s favourite. And it’s not hard to see why. Instead of serving the lobster meat, the paella was cooked in rich lobster broth. Thus giving it the rich and flavourful taste. A must order.

9) Strawberries, basil sorbet, olives, marshmallows, vanilla chantilly, $14 (above)

10) “BBC”, textures of banana, beer ice cream, warm caramel sauce, $15 (above) – If one only has stomach for 1 dessert, one should just go with this. It was also highly recommended by the staff. My friend and I wished there was more of the banana cake.

11) Chocolate ganache on toasted brioche (above), Complimentary – Topped with olive oil caviar and sprinkle of sea salt. Depending on one’s pace, this complimentary sweet bite would be delivered either timely after the mains or after one finished one’s meal. And the latter happened to us. Imagine our grateful but horrific faces when the dish was presented because our stomachs were already bursting.

So did dinner turn out as how I imagined? A definite yes. Personally, I always find it special to dine at the counter. The whole experience of watching the chefs doing their magic in the kitchen. Head chef is probably still not used to our Singlish way of pronouncing, so I was really appreciative that did not deter him from mingling with the customers. That said, we also had some difficulty understanding his heavy Spanish accent. But thankfully, the wonderful staff rescued us by chipping in the conversation too! Keke.

So yes! As with my previous review, I would again recommend Esquina. Food was enjoyable. Price was pretty decent. Ambience was great. And staff (chef included) were professional and friendly!

ESQUINA TAPAS BAR
16 Jiak Chuan Lane, Singapore
6222 1616, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
* Closed on Sun
Service: 8

Dinner @ Dehesa Singapore

December 3, 2016 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

Catching up over a table filled with many plates of good food is always a good idea. And for our next meet up, I suggested to my girlfriends to have Spanish cuisine as it has been a while since we last had Spanish. Or wait, it was a long while since I last met this group of girlfriends. o_O

Reservation was made using Chope. Oh yes, it was one of those days where I was feeling too lazy to talk. Haha. And it was a good thing reservation was made through Chope; We had to postpone our dinner to a week later, and I amended our reservation details with just a few clicks. Keke.

However, on the day of our dinner, 1 was still stuck at work at 7.30pm. So it turned out to be an intimate dinner affair between 2 ladies. But still over a table filled with many plates of good food. =p

And from the menu (pages 1, 2), we ordered:-

1) Duck hearts on toast, $14 (above) – We realised the duck hearts were not fully cooked. Ie, it was slightly raw in the centre. But we liked it that way. It introduced a good ‘crunch’, without it being too tough. I especially enjoyed eating the toast which was thoroughly soaked with the gravy. A must order.


2) Octopus, $28 (above) – Served on a bed of mashed potato, octopus was soft without the rubbery texture. Decent! My girlfriend especially liked the layer of lard served on top of the octopus!

3) Clams, $24 (above) – In sherry and jamon.


4) Crispy pig’s head, $28 (above) – With egg yolk, capers. Thankfully chef Jean-Philippe Patruno saved us from the gruesome sight of a pig head by serving this in the form of a really big fried meatball. Ha! And this was really good. If only the yolk that came with it wasn’t served to us broken. Sob!


5) Dehesa platter, $42 (above) – Having seen a few of these coming out from the kitchen during our dinner, my girlfriend and I decided to order cold cuts too. We intended to order the jamon joselito ($38) but decided to get variety with $4 more. A wise decision, indeed. Keke. Everything was so good. Including the bread which was soft and fluffy. A must order.

6) Arroz negro paella, $52 (above) – With squids, clams, prawns.

7) Chocolat, $14 (above) – With olive oil, salt. This wasn’t very impressive. Give it a miss and try the other desserts.


8) Torijas, $14 (above) – With plum, creme fraiche.

Would I recommend Dehesa? A definite yes. Except for the chocolate ice cream, every dish was a hit! My girlfriend and I were simply enjoying ourselves. Even though we over-ate and had serious bloating after dinner. Haha.

However, chef Jean-Philippe Patruno was the only person in the kitchen that Friday night. So when the crowd came in at 8pm, our orders took significantly longer to be served. And it was interesting that the staff was particularly concerned if my girlfriend and I could finish our food.

When we confirmed at 9pm that our 3rd friend wasn’t coming, the staff went on to say she will cancel our remaining order instead of asking if we wanted to proceed. And I must had been very baffled because the word “cancel” simply didn’t register with me. Thankfully chef JP came in the nick of time and saved us by serving our next dish! Please know we ladies could also eat as much (or even more) than guys. Keke.

And it’s read from their website that Dehesa is the only front-runner of nose-to-tail eating revolution in Singapore. With made-from-scratch and robustly flavoured alternative cut and offal delicacies, as well as succulent classic cut specialities with a commitment to whole animal usage.

DEHESA RESTAURANT SINGAPORE
12 North Canal Road, Singapore
6221 7790, Website, Facebook
Overall: 7
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Mon – Fri : 11:30 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 7
Mon – Sat : 17:30 – 00:00 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 7
* Closed on Sun

Dinner @ Alma by Juan Amador [Revisit]

November 26, 2016 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

Was feeling pretty uninspired as to where to go for dinner. And thus, my friend and I decided to head back to an ‘old’ restaurant. Reservation was made 1 day prior to our actual visit. I guess the last minute reservation showed how uninspired I was. Yeps.

Located at Level 1 of Goodwood Park Hotel, we had no trouble parking as (parking) lots were aplenty within the compound. Although it’s noted parking is not complimentary. Parking fee came up to $6. Then again, it might have been. We didn’t think of checking with the staff. And if parking was complimentary for diners, the staff didn’t ask if we needed parking coupon.

And from the menu, we ordered:-

1) 8 course degustation menu, $178 comprised of:-


(A) Alma snacks (above) – Tomato meringue topped with truffle, fish tartare roll with coriander powder, and blueberry sable.


  

(B) Amuse bouche (above) – Egg custard with pea espuma and truffle vinaigrette, served with chips.



(C) Potato bread (above) – And within the sack, the 3 pieces of bread were placed on top of warmed pebbles. And I really liked the bread. It wasn’t the typical soft and fluffy bread, but heavier and oiler. Probably because of the addition of potato. When the staff asked if we wanted seconds, I said yes! Had to be fair lah. I wanted 2 pieces too! =p


(D) Foie gras (above) – Terrine beneath a layer of lychee jelly and topped with cauliflower ice cream.


(E) Lamb tartare (above) – Served with goat cheese, tomato chutney and herbs.

(F) Hokkaido scallop (above) – I wasn’t too impressed with the scallops. There was a very strong (weird) smell which I suspected was from the finger root; A medicinal and culinary herb from China and Southeast Asia also known as Chinese ginger.

(G) Crispy tofu (above) – Honestly, when I saw tofu on the menu, I was tempted to ask if I could have it replaced. It’s just me. I am fine with tofu. But if I could, I rather not have it. But luckily I didn’t. Cause it was so good! Went very well with the foie gras sauce.

(H) Kingfish belly (above)


(I) “Ham & cheese sandwich” (above) – And this dish stood out for me. Suckling pig and melted manchego cheese sandwiched between two heavily buttered toast. Further topped with shaved truffle. It was sinfully good.


(J) Australian pork – And what’s on the original menu was miyazaki beef. But we had it changed cause we don’t take beef. Unfortunately, this was a let down for a main; Pork belly with pork stock served with kale and mustard. So while skin was thin and crisp, I was expecting more from a Michelin-starred restaurant. This seemed too… Normal? No, don’t tell me less is more. o_O


(K) Pre-dessert – Caramelised sugar over yogurt and strawberry.


  

(L) Truffle – Presented as what looked like a mini garden, dessert was dark chocolate and truffle ice creams. The latter was really interesting. I told my friend we had to finish it for all the truffle pieces within. Haha.

(M) Petit four – Sour green apple bon bon, ice cream with honeycomb and gula melaka canele.

Am glad they updated their menu since my last visit. I was very much impressed by the food. Would I recommend Alma by Juan Amador? This time round, a definite yes. And of course… That complimentary glass of champagne (to celebrate their Michelin star) certainly made us happier than we already were with the great food. Keke.

ALMA BY JUAN AMADOR
22 Scotts Road, Goodwood Park Hotel, Level 1, Singapore
6735 9937, Website, Facebook
Overall: 8
Opening hours:-
Food/Beverage: 8
Wed – Fri : 12:00 – 14:30 (Lunch)
Ambience: 8
Mon – Sat : 18:00 – 22:30 (Dinner)
Value: 7
Service: 8
* Closed on Sun

UPDATE 1: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2017.
UPDATE 2: Restaurant was awarded 1 Michelin star by Michelin Guide Singapore 2018.