Oh wow. Our second visit to Esquina for lunch today was even better than our first, if that's possible. I had the day off today, so we came sharp at 12 when they opened. We waited outside for about 5 minutes while they sorted themselves out, and were then ushered in.
Monday, April 16, 2012
They changed the menu slightly since we were last here. Apparently the chef likes to change things up every few months. To my dismay, this meant that the ox cheek oloroso with bone marrow crumbs was no longer available. The dish in its place was named “Braised ox, tongue-in-cheek, cumin mash”. The braised ox cheek, with a carrot and cumin mash, was topped with a slice of ox tongue, hence the name. This got a bit heavy towards the end but the flavours were good; the cumin mash was more subtle than I expected. The ox tongue was a mouthful of pure joy though.
I finally got to have the salt and pepper squid, after watching the chef assemble plate after plate of them last time. They were worth the wait - using baby squid rather than calamari slices or rings makes the pieces so much lighter and crispier.
It’s a hard fight between the slow cooked egg bravas dish from our last visit, and the egg dish we ordered today –baked egg with anchovy, capers, onions and lemon. The bravas egg has a more liquid and gooey centre, but I think flavour-wise, this baked egg dish was a winning combination.
We tried an off-menu special – lamb chops with mint yogurt and curried olive couscous. Hands down the best dish of the day. The lamb chops were perfectly cooked, about medium, and really tender and juicy. Even the couscous, which I’m not usually a big fan of, was done very well. Light and fluffy, and again all the flavours worked very well together, complementing the lamb but not weighing it down.
The baked bone marrow with snails, parsley and horseradish pesto was also amazing. Unlike most bone marrow dishes, which can be quite heavy and one dimensional, the marrow here is mixed with chopped escargots and lightened with herbs, so the whole thing is more reminiscent of a rillette instead of eating straight up bone marrow.
Even the humble sangria is not spared the Esquina touch. Their version is more like sangria two ways – a fruity red wine below, and topped with a sangria foam. Delicious.
I think you need at least 2 visits to get the best of Esquina, although given how frequently the chef likes to shake the menu up, I don’t think things will get boring any time soon.
This is probably my favourite place to eat in Singapore now. Nuff said.
16 Jiak Chuan Street
Mon to Fri: 12 noon – 3 pm; 6 pm – 11 pm
Sat: 6 pm – 11 pm