Our visit to Esquina was the day after we went to Lolla, and reinforced our view that even with all the new tapas-esque places popping up of late, Esquina still remains a firm favourite. I like the fact that the menu keeps changing – in all our visits, we’ve never had the exact same menu twice. The chef has always made a few subtle changes to certain dishes, ensuring that we get a surprise each time.
We have to have an egg dish whenever we come. This time we got the grilled asparagus with quail’s eggs and jamon Iberico. Good, but perhaps not their best ever dish.
It got steadily better though. The marinated beetroot salad with honeycomb burrata and pinenut crumble was awesome. The quenelles of burrata were rich and creamy, accentuated with a drizzle of honey, and the tartness of the beetroot kept everything in check.
On the specials board was a steak tartare with a confit egg. It was served with a couple of slices of toasted bread, pickled onions and a red pepper sauce, though it was really good enough to have on its own.
I was glad that the seabass with corn and bacon chowder, that I’d eyed on our last visit, was still on the menu. The fish itself was ok, but the foamy chowder really made the dish. It had so much flavour from the bacon that both of us took a spoonful and immediately went “wow”.
The roast lamb rump with black olive polenta and anchovy chimichurri was also amazing. The lamb was flash seared then roasted, and still nice and pink. The chimichurri that was smeared over the plate was insanely good. A far cry from the lamb dish at Lolla, I have to say.
The one thing that was a bit disappointing was the barbeque roasted corn, though I guess it’s because it was totally not what I expected. I thought it would be some sort of corn on the cob, but it turned out to be little bar snacks of super crispy corn kernels. I guess it also didn’t help that we ordered these towards the end of meal, when it should have been a pre-meal snack.
They’ve changed their chocolate mousse a little – it now comes with espresso syrup and olive oil jelly. Because the chocolate was so strong, I didn’t taste the olive oil jelly at all when we had it together. I could only barely discern the flavour when I tasted the jelly on its own.
I won’t say that we’re regulars, but I guess we’ve been here often enough that a few of the regular waitstaff (well, one really) have begun to recognise us. The familiarity probably makes our experience even more positive, which I guess becomes a vicious cycle.
I’ve heard of people being less than impressed with Esquina, either because they went mid- service so the kitchen couldn’t give the food the exacting attention that they do during first service, or they perhaps had different expectations of the ambience, food and service. Either way, perhaps this place isn’t for everyone, but it most certainly is for us.
Great. As always.