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Esquina - 1st Jul 2015

Esquina is located at the junction of Jiak Chuan Road and Teck Lim Road


Esquina is a sleek, stylish tapas bar located at the junction of Jiak Chuan Road and Teck Lim Road, on the fringe of the newly-hip Keong Saik Road area. It is aptly-named, for ‘Esquina’ means ‘corner’ in Spanish. Helmed by Rob Daniels and Jason Atherton, it serves up beautifully-plated, delicious morsels.


Esquina is a small place, though it occupies two storeys of a graceful colonial-era shophouse, painted a pristine white. The upper storey sits guests who have made reservations, either by telephone or on their website (a week in advance, for weekend bookings). Walk-in guests dine on the ground floor, either at the bar or at the alfresco section. A mix of blues and classic rock blares through the speakers, and the interior is decorated in a faux-industrial style. 



Padron Peppers with Ponzu Dressing


First to arrive at our table was the Padron Peppers with Ponzu Dressing. The peppers were grilled expertly, seared just so. The smoky flavour imparted by the grill added much character to the spicy green peppers. However, there was little evidence of the Ponzu as we could not taste any citrus, but the peppers were just fine the way they were.


Iberico Bellota is the highest grade of Jamon Iberico


Next, the Iberico Bellota made its keenly-awaited appearance. Iberico Bellota is the highest grade of Jamon Iberico, made from pigs which roam free in the oak forest and eat only acorns in the final weeks leading up to the slaughter. The ham came customarily sliced in thin, delicate slivers, and was covered in a thin layer of oil. The nutty fragrance and intense flavours of the jamon were simply divine – culinary treasure on a dish.



Suckling Pig with Roasted Pineapple and Sherry Vinegar Glaze


The Spanish seem to love their pork, and this penchant is well-justified as we were served another porcine pleasure in the form of Suckling Pig with Roasted Pineapple and Sherry Vinegar Glaze. The pink peppercorns (which are not true peppercorns, they are actually berries) provided herbal notes and a spicy kick, while the roasted pineapple chunks were fit companions for the perfectly crispy skin and tender flesh, dripping with juice.


The apple puree served on the side intrigued us, as it was no ordinary applesauce. Pork and apple is a classic pairing, and like any applesauce, it was sweet with a bit of acid. Esquina’s version is smooth, creamy, and had hints of butterscotch. Whatever it was, it was delicious.


Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burgers with Pulled Pork and Avocado Mayonnaise


Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burgers with Pulled Pork and Avocado Mayonnaise are also a fine choice for fans of pork. You get two slider-sized burgers with patties made of a very flavourful mix of Iberico pork and foie gras, topped with sweet pulled pork and a pickle. The avocado mayonnaise and a bit of sauerkraut is served one the side in ramekins. While the sauerkraut lacked any real flavour, the avocado mayonnaise was the smoothest and richest thing I have tasted. It was decadence.


Baked Bone Marrow and Ox Cheek with Onion Jam and Gentleman’s Relish


The last main dish to arrive was the Baked Bone Marrow and Ox Cheek with Onion Jam and Gentleman’s Relish. Accompanied by two slices of crunchy white toast, the marrow was mixed with the supremely tender ox cheek, lightly crusted with browned sourdough crumbs, and served in a split marrow bone. When generously scooped onto the toast, it was a hearty treat for the senses. The contrast between the crisp toast and the soft, yielding ox cheek; the combination of buttery marrow and piquant onion jam, it just works.


Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream with Raspberries and Oat Crumble

 Warm Chocolate Fondant


To end off a splendid meal, desserts were in order. Goat’s Cheese Ice Cream with Raspberries and Oat Crumble is a good recommendation. The yoghurt-like tang, and the sharp flavours of goat’s milk are present, but mild. It was not outright sweet, but had a savoury balance to it. A more conventional choice was the Warm Chocolate Fondant with Malt Ice Cream and Chocolate 100’s and 1000’s. The rounded flavour of the malt ice cream was a good foil to the intense and dark and intense chocolate fondant.


To end off, I would like to mention that Esquina displays excellence not only through their culinary brilliance, but also in another crucial aspect: the night was made so much more enjoyable because of their personable staff. The knowledgeable and friendly staff members took orders promptly and were quick to accede to our requests.  Due to a slip-up, we had to wait a short while for our last main dish, but the chef gave us complimentary sorbets and the manager decided to waive the charge on our desserts. Good food always tastes better with fine service, and Esquina has acquitted itself well in this respect. If you want an enjoyable night out, I hardly think you will be disappointed by the splendid people at Esquina.


Address: 16 Jiak Chuan Road Singapore 
Click here to make a reservation


~ Colin Sim


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