There’s so much to love about Spain and its amazing culture, not to mention the sultry men and women. But what we crave most of all, is the spectacular food and drinks. We trooped around to source for some of the best Spanish restaurants in town, so you can get right down to business.
Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant
#01-02 Blk. 7 Dempsey Rd., 6476-2811.
They’ve already established themselves as one of the leaders in Spanish cuisine at their original Lorong Kilat outlet, as the throngs of Spaniards would happily attest to. In August this year, they opened up another in Dempsey (good news for those of us who live in the city). Brace yourself for an onslaught of tapas, and in this case, that’s a very good thing. The meatballs with apple sauce ($12) were firm and lightly sweetened, with wedges of stewed apple and pine nuts, while calamari ($11) was light and crisp. Rabo de Toro ($34) is a hearty oxtail stew that features meat so tender it’s falling off the bone, with carrots, potatoes and garbanzo beans. Their paellas take anywhere from 25-35 minutes, so we’re telling you now to order them once your bottom grazes a seat. The Arroz Negro (from $30) was one of the best paellas we’ve had in a long, long time. Fresh seafood nuggets of squid and prawn nestle in a jet-black squid ink bed of rice, topped with cubes of tomato. Be sure to have it with their aioli (garlic mayo) for an extra spicy kick. And ask for extra lemon wedges, the tangy citrus flavor really complements the richness of the dish. Desserts here are noteworthy, so do yourself a favor and give them a go. The Leche Frita ($9) is a square of golden brown battered fried milk with cinnamon syrup. But if you only have space for one treat, let it be the Bomba de Chocolate ($19). This incredibly decadent chocolate fondant is made from 55 percent Spanish chocolate and is well worth the calories (just don’t tell us how many). We could almost do without the giant scoop of vanilla ice cream it comes with. They even launched an all day breakfast menu last weekend, featuring items including a Madrid classic, Broken Eggs (scrambled eggs with garlic, chorizo and baby potatoes), Eggs Benedict/Royale with Seranno ham or smoked salmon and torrijas (a Spanish bread pudding) from 9am-4pm every Sat and Sun.
Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar
#01-08 Blk. D, Clarke Quay, River Valley Rd., 6837-2938.
Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar is yet another restaurant cum bar in the Clarke Quay vicinity (stifle those groans). And while we’re usually averse to the crowd and noise, this is a worthwhile bet if you want to get your drink on, with tasty bites to match. There’s an alfresco area, which like the rest of the lot, is modeled after the deck of a ship. It comes with lifebuoys, railings and wood-planked floors (captain not included). Take it all in, with a liberal dose of sea salt. And consuming jugs upon jugs of sangria always works for us. Alternatively, the indoor area with burnt tangerine hues and dim lighting is made for cozying up with a special someone (if only for a night). If you’re lucky, their resident band, Ent-Marisol, will be belting out some soulful tunes for maximum romancing. If you’d like to go the traditional route, they’ve got red and white sangria (from $14/glass; $65/jug). But we strongly suggest shaking things up and sipping on their fruity blackberry one ($15)—made with crushed blackberries and white wine, or the sparkling version ($16). Then again, you could take a cue from us and have them all. Let’s not forget the nibbles. They serve chicken meatballs in a mild almond sauce ($13.50), tender grilled squid in a balsamic vinegar reduction ($15.50) and black pepper-specked pan-fried red snapper with Romesco sauce (a blend of almonds, pine nuts, tomatoes and red wine). Don’t leave without a taste of their bacon-wrapped flash-fried shrimps ($14.50)—everything really is better with bacon—and their roasted piquillo peppers stuffed with minced chicken ($14). And yes, there’s paella. We reckon the Marisco’s (from $38) is an all-round crowd pleaser, with prawns, squid, mussels, snapper and some veggies thrown in. To seal the deal, get some sugar with their churros ($8.50)—deep fried dough sticks served with a sticky chocolate sauce. The cherry on top? They’re open till late. 1am on weekdays, and 2am on Fri and Sat, so you have even more time to work your magic.
The Club Tapas
B1 (bar), 1/F (restaurant) The Club Hotel, 28 Ann Siang Rd., 6808-2188.
One of the newest Spanish establishments, having opened in September, The Club Tapas is set in the boutique Club Hotel by Harry’s Hospitality. They’ve got a nice alfresco space if you’d like some outdoor action, or head down to the basement for an intimate evening, with warm tones and a splattering of red accents. Classics such as patatas bravas ($12)—fried potatoes with a tangy tomato sauce—fried calamari rings ($15), 24 month cured Jamon ($20) and a cheese platter including Manchego and Mahon ($18) are all decent options, while their paellas are a little pricey from $40. The tuna empinadas and chicken croquettes are manageable bites if you’re not in the mood for anything too filling (both $12). Go a different route from a standard sangria and choose from their array of wines from Spain.