Thursday, August 09, 2012

Foodbar Dada

C says:

What with the success of Esquina, modern tapas joints are now all the rage, with places like Salt Tapas and Foodbar Dada coming on the scene. We've made no secret of our obsession with Esquina, so forgive any comparisons that we inevitably make.

Tucked away next to Stacked dimsum bar at Quayside, Dada is probably Esquina's edgier younger sibling, with a dark interior, indie music and a dedicated mixologist. But how's the food?

The ambience and fare are reminiscent of a typical Spanish tapas joint, down to the 3 decidedly good-looking chefs behind the counter. Dada's main selling point is their Josper grill/oven - practically everything is cooked in it, with a few residual items deep fried.

We started with their cod puffs, which were essentially bacalao croquettas. While nice and light, these didn't really stand out much.

The toast with eggplant, anchovies and red pepper foam was better, with the toast nice and charred from the Josper, and anchovies adding a nice salty edge.

The watermelon gazpacho with olive oil ice cream was, hands down, A's favourite dish of the evening. It was light and refreshing, yet flavourful, and really had good balance.

The baby squid with eggs was another good dish. The squid was cooked on a cast iron skillet in the Josper, and beaten egg mixed in right at the end. This was garlicky and creamy, and perfect with the charred bread that came with it.

It should be noted that portions are quite small, so even though the menu prices seem quite reasonable, you need to order quite a few dishes for a proper meal. The black meditteranean rice, for example, was listed as $8, but it turned out that they served us 2 portions, 1 each. I'm a huge rice fan, and I wasn't particularly impressed with this. 

The Iberian secret with pisto manchego turned out to be 3 small pieces of pork that were quite fatty, and deep fried so they were crisp outside and deliciously fatty inside. This was served with balsamic glaze and really good caramelised onions.

The octopus was quite well cooked; I think they cook it sous vide first because I saw them opening vacuum sealed portions and browning them off in the Josper. The peppers and shitakes would have been better if they'd just been grilled, I think. They were tossed in a balsamic glaze that was a bit too overpowering.

Dada accepts reservations and they're very proud of, and diligent with, that fact. It seems that they're really focussing on the one aspect that sets them apart from Esquina.

Don't get me wrong. I really enjoyed our meal here, and don't wish to detract from their concept at all. They've made very smart choices for their menu items, that don't actually comprise many complicated elements nor cooking techniques. Most things are just charred in the Josper oven, and plated with minimal sprinklings of paprika or chives.

They do what they do very well, and if you go with the expectation that it's primarily a bar serving good bar food then that's exactly what you'll be getting. Esquina, on the other hand, serves food that won't be out of place in a fine dining restaurant. Needless to say, there's still no question which we prefer.

A says:

This really reminds me of small tapas restaurants in Spain so plus points for that. Food and service are great, but it’s still very conventional tapas food. I’d recommend this if you want a good tapas experience, where you can book a table. But for spectacular small dishes, I’d still get in line at Esquina.

Foodbar Dada
60 Robertson Quay
#01-12, The Quayside
Tel: 6735-7738
Open Tues to Sat: 6 pm to 12 mn

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