Exciting, impressive tapas at Esquina from new chef Carlos Montobbio

<p>The must-try is Spanish Nigiri ($6). The two times I had this, I was impressed by how simple it looked, but how complex the flavours were. There was a slight saltiness from the cod and sweetness from the bell peppers.
The must-try is Spanish Nigiri ($6). The two times I had this, I was impressed by how simple it looked, but how complex the flavours were. There was a slight saltiness from the cod and sweetness from the bell peppers.
<p>The must-try is Spanish Nigiri ($6). The two times I had this, I was impressed by how simple it looked, but how complex the flavours were. There was a slight saltiness from the cod and sweetness from the bell peppers.
The must-try is Spanish Nigiri ($6). The two times I had this, I was impressed by how simple it looked, but how complex the flavours were. There was a slight saltiness from the cod and sweetness from the bell peppers.
<p>There is a daily pork dish on rotation at Esquina. When you see suckling pig ($42) on the board, order it. It's a fullflavoured piece of meat, meant to be shared.
There is a daily pork dish on rotation at Esquina. When you see suckling pig ($42) on the board, order it. It's a fullflavoured piece of meat, meant to be shared.
<p>Some may find the Sardines with Samfaina ($16) too fishy, but that's what makes it great for me. The bell pepper sorbet complements it.
Some may find the Sardines with Samfaina ($16) too fishy, but that's what makes it great for me. The bell pepper sorbet complements it.
<p>Pigeon is a bird that divides foodies, but it's delicious here. This version comes with a base of creamy rosemary polenta ($22).
Pigeon is a bird that divides foodies, but it's delicious here. This version comes with a base of creamy rosemary polenta ($22).
<p>The one dish I didn't get was the baked Salted Cod "Alkorta" ($28, with chickpeas and fermented black garlic paste). I found it oddly devoid of flavour.
The one dish I didn't get was the baked Salted Cod "Alkorta" ($28, with chickpeas and fermented black garlic paste). I found it oddly devoid of flavour.

SINGAPORE - (THE NEW PAPER) I eat so many things for work that even if a dish is amazing, I may not always remember it a month later.

In the middle of last year, I had a bite of chef Carlos Montobbio's incredible miniature pizza at Anti:Dote at the Fairmont Singapore, and till today, I cannot forget it.

Chef Montobbio has since moved on to tapas restaurant Esquina.

Sometimes, memories supersede reality, so I braced myself for a reality check when I ate at Esquina. That didn't happen.

The two times I was there - once invited and once unannounced - I was impressed. The dishes were exciting on the tongue, without affectation.

Go during lunch and get the worthwhile $38 four-course set meal. I'm sure the rest of your day will be a happy one.

*Weets Eats takes a two-week makan break and will be back on Jan 13.

WHAT: Esquina

WHERE: 16, Jiak Chuan Rd

WHEN: Weekdays (noon to 2.30pm; 6pm to 10.30pm), Saturdays (6pm to 10.30pm) Closed on Sundays

CALL: 6222-1616

weeteck@sph.com.sg


This article was first published on December 23, 2015.
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