Lucie Loves... Food & Travel // fancy tapas lunch at Esquina, Singapore
My trip to Singapore was quite the foodie adventure. I was very lucky to be invited to have lunch at ESQUINA, tucked away on a corner of Jiak Chuan Road, in Singapore. Here are a few photos of the restaurant interior and delicious tapas, that I hope will make your hearts swoon and your mouths water.
On arrival at ESQUINA, I was introduced to Barcelona-born, Head Chef Carlos Montobbio, who at just 28 years of age, has already over 10 years of culinary experience under his belt.
Carlos is known for his ‘artfully crafted rendition of Spanish tapas’ – I couldn’t wait to see what dishes he whipped up for me.
Grilled Spanish octopus, Jerusalem artichoke, burnt onion and oyster leaf
Spanish omelette, confit onion, potato, crispy bread, olive oil and caviar
I started off lunch with a glass of sangria, topped with a layer of foam – an ESQUINA speciality. The casual eat-at-the-bar seating means that on quiet days you can talk to the chefs, and marvel at their craft, as they prepare each dish fresh in front of you.
The staff at ESQUINA sit down each day and eat together, each taking in turns to cook up something new, something not on the menu. Carlos told me that at the weekend he will head to Tiong Bahru Market to shop for ESQUINA goods and also his personal groceries, before heading to Tiong Bahru Bakery for breakfast.
He explained that one of the greatest challenges that chef’s face in Singapore is getting their hands on the right ingredients. They have to rely heavily on imports. For instance, things like oysters and meats have to be ordered a week in advance.
Preparation: Saffron paella, pan-fried red snapper, chorizo and snow peas
Back in 2004, La Tasca was the first ever Spanish restaurant that I’d ever stepped foot in outside of Spain. Date nights, in my late teens, eyeing each other up over a bowl of patatas bravas or a little dish of paella… *sighs*
It was nice enough, but nothing compared to the tapas I got to try on holidays to places like Barcelona and Mijas.
Everything about the Spanish way of life, the glorious sunshine-filled days, the freshness of the food and communal way of eating together (often until late at night), to the siestas and the beautiful people. It’s a far cry from British life – our wet winters and often colder ways.
My visit to Singapore opened my eyes as a travel blogger. I wasn’t expecting there to be such a huge variety of great places to eat. I can honestly say that my dalliance with Chef Carlos’ Spanish tapas at ESQUINA, was another real comfort food experience for me. Decadent emotional eating was exactly what I’d recommend for anyone who, like me back in October, was still getting my head around the blow that my ever-so short marriage was now over.
There’s something pretty special about selecting dishes from a menu and then watching your food being prepared and cooked in front of you. It feels almost voyeuristic. Food porn at its best!
Perched at the bar, on ESQUINA’s famous upcycled-tractor style seating, I was more than ready for a big fat Spanish lunch. ESQUINA is the perfect place for a solo-traveller to grab lunch, or even arrange a date night. Sat beside me at the bar were two British expats, colleagues, having a leisurely lunch together. They too were very impressed with the food.
ESQUINA is like the cooler, hipper, younger sister to sophisticated POLLEN. ESQUINA, lets her hair down. POLLEN wears hers pulled tight into a neat chignon. ESQUINA quaffs sangria by the glass. POLLEN sips champagne, delicately.
The rough and ready, industrial, unpolished interior of ESQUINA brings a little bit of Spain to Singapore, with a few British twists thrown in – with the art and vintage signs that adorn the walls.
The average (hungry) couple dining at ESQUINA are recommended to order between 6-8 dishes, enough to share between two. Wherever possible, ingredients are locally-sourced, and always freshly-cooked each day.
Chorizo croquetas with piquillo mayo
My own love of food and hospitality, I guess, boils down to my love of all things design-related. I love seeing the end result. The care and consideration that has gone into every dish.
Oyster, jalapeño ponzu, salmon roe and pickled ginger flower
It fascinates me to see Chefs so lovingly craft each dish. Arrange them on a plate – like a work of art – only to be devoured by diners moment later.
A painstaking love of food. Passion, and pursuit of excellence – for perfection – is a trait that I greatly admire.
In contrast to their communal seating and open kitchen, ESQUINA also has a private dining area upstairs, which seats up to 25 people. You can book a table at ESQUINA online. There’s a real buzz about that place, one not to be missed!
Photography © Lucie Kerley