Dinner @ Esquina Tapas Bar

November 28, 2012 in Spanish by thywhaleliciousfay

I forgot how I came to learn about Esquina, but my girlfriend seconded that Esquina is a good place to check out from how packed it always is. Thus, we decided to head down for dinner. However, to our dismay, while checking their website for a number to call, I learned that they do not accept reservation. Crowded place with no reservation = Long waiting time? Nooooo! Haha.

We arrived on a Tuesday evening at 7.40pm to find the restaurant (expectedly) full. However, we were told we could be put on a waiting list. Though the Malay male staff accidentally called the waiting list as the reservation list which earned me a dirty stare from my girlfriend as I was telling her earlier that they dont accept reservation. Haha.

But what I really appreciate about this Malay male staff is… We came a little after a couple. He must have realised his senior who attended to the couple first (by bringing them to the waiting corner to order drinks first) had forgotten about us when he saw us still standing at the entrance. He came up to us and said he’ll get his senior. I truly appreciate his initiative and his sense of responsibility even though he has in a way handed us over to his senior.

We chose to wait at a coffee cafe a few units down the road after leaving our contact number. And while we were advised the waiting time is estimated to be 30 minutes, we ended up waiting for 1.5 hours.

There’re some outdoor seats but we were ushered into a round (tall) table placed at the corner. And in the centre of the rectangular interior, are stools around the L-shaped counter. And for a restaurant which could house no more than twenty customers, they sure have a lot of chef! I was pretty amazed at the sight.

And from the menu, my girlfriend and I ordered:-

1) Daily Special, $24 (above) – Topped with a poached egg, we were told to mix it with the fragrant rice. I especially like the contrasting texture between the moist but firm rice and the soft and runny egg. So nice!!!

2) Scallop ceviche, radish salsa, soya & yuzu ponzu, $24 (above) – A must try! The scallops were fresh and succulent. Again, I love the contrasting texture between the soft scallop and the crunchy radish. I’m so glad there were only 2 of us such that we got 2 scallops each. Hee!

3) Raw tuna, mushroom & jamon salad, aubergine miso, sherry sesame, $22 (above) – When I read raw tuna and salad, I thought it will be served as minced (raw) tuna on a bed of boring greens. But I was wrong. Firstly, the tuna were presented cut in pieces and not sliced the Japanese way. And there were hardly any big greens. I love this dish. The irregularly cut tuna pieces were big enough to have satisfying bites. Yum!

4) Iberico pork & foie gras burger $28 (above) – Sadly, this dish was salty. The meat comprised of pulled pork and (what I am assuming to be) minced pork patty. And it’s this patty that’s salty. I think I know my foie gras quite well too but I saw none here, unless it was minced into the patty. But the bun was tasty on its own!

5) Roast pork belly, bacon & onion dashi broth, coriandar seaweed salad, $27 (above) – I’m a fan! Upon presentation, the staff poured the sauce into the dish containing the 2 pieces of pork belly that’s placed on top of the seaweed salad. The pork belly, which were not too fatty, were so tender!

6) Pigeon escabeche, confit leg croquette, carrot & cumin, $28 (above) – Of all the dishes, this came across as okie. The pigeon which is done medium well can be a little dry depending on the part (Like the wing). The croquette which had a nice crispy exterior, was unfortunately dry inside.

7) Seville orange & rosemary ice cream, burnt meringue, citrus curd, marmalade toast, $13 (above) – The rosemary ice cream was creamy and addictive.

8) Grilled pineapple, coconut lime jelly, basil sorbet, $13 (above) – The grilled pineapple funnily did not taste like pineapple while the green sorbet proved to be a little too herby for us.

9) Manchego custard, black olive brioche crumb, apricot jam, $13 (above) – This being cheese is more of a savoury dessert. For ladies (like us) who have a sweet tooth for desserts, this dish failed to impress although we cant deny the smooth consistency of the cheese custard.

I seriously love this place. Although it can get a little frustrating to wait when one is hungry, but the delicious food and warm service is definitely worth the wait. And while the serving is more of a starter’s portion, one should really have anticipated it from their restaurant bar name – Tapas. And because it’s set up for a bar’s vibe, I enjoyed the intimacy feel of the small place.

I really must emphasize on the warm service. The Chinese female who took our orders was always smiling and very friendly as she gave us her recommendations. Not forgetting the chef. We had wanted to order the kingfish sashimi. However, one of the waiter came up to inform that they had finished the last plate of it and asked if we wanted the raw tuna. When the staff suggested tuna, I thought they were giving us alternatives. So when we were presented with the raw tuna and informed that it’s complimentary by the chef, we were genuinely surprised!

Note : I am including the race of the staff as I recount my dining experience so that should Esquina’s management one day read this review, I hope they can use the information to better identify the staff and give them a pat on the back. Cause frankly, the service we experienced was really good!

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