Pork Perfection at Esquina (Singapore)

Looking back at our two weeks in Singapore, which by the way feels like ages ago (reality: less than two weeks), we did some exceptional Spanish inspired dining. You would think we would go for local restaurants, but our yearning for good Cava brought us (back) to Esquina, Jason Atherton’s little restaurant in Chinatown, Singapore. We have also visited several of Jason’s other restaurants, Pollen Street Social, Little Social and Berner’s Tavern in London and our experiences have been great.

To start with, we had no booking. As with many popular restaurants, a table at Esquina needs to be reserved weeks before. However, we arrived nice and early (18:00) and were able to grab a seat on the terrace. It is not the nicest scenery one can have (back street in Chinatown) but it’s not a problem for us Northern Europeans. We are crazy about all terraces and balconies alike. Just the thought about eating outside is somehow exciting for people from countries where summer is way too short. For those who like sitting inside, there are wonderful seats along the bar, where one can see the chefs up close and personal making the food. I like restaurants that have an open kitchen, it keeps them honest.

Looking at the wine-list there are around 10 wines by the glass, two of them bubblies, a Torello Cava and a La Chapitre Champagne. The Cava was nice and fresh with a taste of brioche, minerals and peach; and the Champagne crisp with some acidity and roasted notes. Both of them were well selected as one would expect from the owner of Pollen St Social. I also tried the Pollen St. Social White which was very nice.

For starters we had the mini Spanish breakfast (an eggshell filled with a stew of slow cooked egg, Iberico ham and potato with Bravas sauce); baked chicken skin with foie grass puree, spiced mango, tarragon and curry; and Jamón Croquetas. Especially the Spanish breakfast was heavenly (thank God we ordered two) and everything came well presented. For mains we had the Iberico BBQ & Foie grass burgers and smoked pork loin. Pork perfection! We didn’t really have space for dessert, but we were treated to mini-ice cream cones as a thank you from the kitchen. On top of the great food, we received perhaps the friendliest service we had during our whole time in Singapore.

Esquina is really one of my favorite spots in Singapore. Price-wise, it is mid-range, not really expensive, but compared to local food, light years away. A dinner for two with two glasses of wine (each) cost us around 140 SGD (90 EUR). The price is comparable to what you would pay in Europe, but I at least was happy to swipe my credit card for something this good. Looking forward to testing the quality again whenever we are in Singapore.