Hidden in a tiny lane, in a discreet corner is Esquina. Its an extremely compact and small restaurant with only about 10 seats at the bar counter and around 10 seats outdoor. They don’t take reservations, so people on the waiting list would need to hang around and have a drink while waiting for their seats.
I can’t help but wonder ain’t most chefs from Michlin-starred restaurants opening fine dining restaurants rather than a Tapas Bar? But hey, if you want fine dining, can visit Pollen (also by Chef Jason Atherton, which is on my list of to-visit places).
Anyway back to Esquina, the best seats in the house are undoubtly at the bar counter. Being seated there is as if you are seated at the Chef’s table, you get up close & personal view of the kitchen. I enjoyed observing the chefs preparing the food, plating them before being presented to us. Occassionally you’ll hear response like “Yes, Chef”, which reminds me of Gordan Ramsay’s “Hell’s Kitchen”. Of cos the chefs here are professional enough not to yelled at by the Executive Chef, unlike those apprentices on TV ;P
They have a house special Sangria which is not listed in the drinks menu. Be sure to try that. It has a special foam on it and tasted quite different from the typical Sangria drinks.
Here’s the other items we tried, they make small changes to their menu regularly and I realised that their website does not list the price so I included the indicative price here for others’ reference:
- Oysters & Vietnamese dressing $7 each – Freshly shucked, nice dressing.
- Sauteed gambas, chilli garlic, potato dumplings, bisque sauce ard $25 – Comes with 4 medium sized prawns, I liked the bisque sauce.
- Scallop caviche, radish salsa, soya & yuzu ponzu ard $25 – the best dish of the night, the seemingly simple combi of soya & yuzu ponzu brought out the freshness of the scallop. High marks for presentation of the dish as well~
- Iberico pork & foie gras burger $29 – Unique burger to combine minced pork patty with foie gras.
- Seville orange & rosemary ice cream, burnt meringue, citrus curd, marmalde toast ard $20 – With every dessert ordered, they will offer a complimentary mini sangria ice cream. The dessert we ordered had rosemary ice cream which has a subtle fragrance and I love the kawaii burnt meringue~ Another nicely plated & pretty dish.
We also ordered a glass of white wine & red wine. The total bill added up to ard $160-170.
It was an exhilarating experience dining at Esquina. I truely enjoyed the chance to witness up close how a professional kitchen is runned. It makes one appreciate the dishes more, from the presentation to taste, you can better relate the effort put in by each of the staff in making the dish.
[28th Mar 13]
Had the urge to drop by Esquina to chill and enjoy their Sangria but since it was a last-min decision, we only reached at 7pm and had to wait for diners from the 1st seating to leave before our turn. Eventually got seated at 8.45pm and not at the bar counter…due to poor lighting, the photos also turned out quite badly…
Had a Roasted padron pepper, chilli, garlic, salt on the house as the server said it was an extra cooked by the chef. It wouldn’t be something that I would order myself but it turned out that I quite enjoyed the crunchy roasted pepper. Nice finger food to munch.
This time round the new dishes we tried were Crispy baby squid, black ink aioli, Grilled kurobuta pork chop, parsnip n vanilla puree, hazel nut crumb (daily special) and Cookies & cream, condensed milk ice cream, air chocolate, choc chip cookie.
The baby squid was crunchy and the black ink aioli was thick but without the overwhelming black ink taste. We waited quite a while for our grilled kurobuta, the hazel nut crumb was a delightful combination but the tender texture of kurobuta which I was expecting wasn’t there. The cookies & cream dessert would bring out the kid in anyone who have a sweet tooth.
This time round we caught Chef on a bad day as we heard him correcting the chefs with bursts of frustrations… Being a compact restaurant, almost all the diners could feel the tense ambience…
[31 Mar 14]
Was slightly disappointed with the visit compared to my previous ones. The standard seemed to have dropped.
- Seaweed dashi poached oyster, onion foam
- Scallop Vietnamese, avocado wasabi, red radish, sesame
- Jamon croquetas
- Confit squid & chorizo paella, sauteed gambas and black fennel
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