We’re soon entering the 5th month of 2010, and starting to panic slightly because at this rate, we only have one contender for atetoomuch’s Best of 2010. We’ve therefore decided to start trying new places as much as possible, so that we’re not left scrambling at year end.
Alas, by the time we came to this realisation it was on a Friday afternoon, so not many options were left available – both Otto and Hiroki88 were fully booked, so we ended up at Bodega Y Tapas at Orchard Hotel. Part of the Esmirada Group of restaurants, Bodega is known to be quite an institution for Spanish food.
Based on our experience on Friday, I think that has less to do with the standard of the food, and more to do with the fact that the standard of Spanish food in Singapore is simply not up to scratch. Except for a couple of dishes, I was generally underwhelmed.
Our dining experience didn’t get off to a very good start. First, we were escorted to the Esmirada side even though A had called to book a table at Bodega. We reluctantly agreed after being assured that we could also order from the tapas menu there. Then, the waitress who came to take our orders looked like she had a major attitude problem. She took our order of about 6 tapas without writing anything down. I almost wanted to ask if she could remember the order but held my tongue, wanting to give her the benefit of the doubt.
No such luck. She messed up our order, bringing a plate of lamb skewers when we definitely didn’t order them, and left the plate on the table without so much as an apology. The plate was left sitting there for a full ten minutes before we had to ask someone to take it away as we certainly weren’t going to cave and accept it. Also, another dish failed to materialise, and when we checked it turns out it was never on the order chit. Note to self: waitresses with major attitudes don’t generally have the memories to match.
The two standout dishes of the night were a traditional octopus dish, with sliced octopus atop a slice of potato, and seared bacalao (salt cod) with pureed leek and confit mushrooms. The octopus was surprisingly tender, and nicely seasoned with a sprinkling of paprika and drizzled with olive oil.
The seared cod was really good too. The cod had a good texture and wasn’t too salty. But what really made the dish was the sauce of pureed leeks. It was really smooth and had very good flavour.
The rest of the tapas we ordered were a seared tuna loin with marinated tomatoes, mini jamon croquettes, seared duck breast and a Spanish manchego cheese salad. I found the tuna a bit overdone – it was pink only in the centre; the rest of it was dry and overcooked. The duck was slightly better; it had some good flavours but it was still a tad chewy.
We also made the mistake of ordering the Mezza Platter from the Esmirada menu – a plate of various dips (hummus, tzatziki and baba ghanouj) with olives, feta cheese and marinated grilled vegetables, all served with toasted pita bread. This arrived first and we completely filled up with the surprisingly heavy pita bread. This was pretty good but be warned that it’s very filling.
So far, I haven’t been very impressed with the Esmirada group of restaurants. They’re always so highly lauded that we go with high expectations, and they always fall short. They’re also let down by poor service. That was the case at Brasserie Wolf, and the experience was no different today. Will we be back? I doubt; I’d rather go back to Don Quijote if I want Spanish. In the meantime, we need more good Spanish restaurants! Any other recommendations?
To clarify, I called the number listed for Bodega and made the reservation assuming it was the right place. If you’re planning to make a booking, I recommend specifically asking for the Bodega. And as we didn’t sit there, I can’t really comment on service standards.
As for the service at Esmeralda, we had one really good waiter, but the hostess was awful.
The food standard is mixed. With some really awesome dishes, but many mediocre ones. I think sticking to dishes that are the Chef’s Specialty would be a safe bet.
Overall, it was okay. I’d probably be back. But I’m in no hurry.
Bodega Y Tapas
442 Orchard Road
#01-29 Orchard Hotel
Opening hours: 11 am to 12 mn