La Taperia

The buzz: The folks behind the fine dining institution, Les Amis, veer into Spanish territory with this casual tapas restaurant that takes over the space formerly occupied by Terry’s.

The vibe: The décor remains pretty similar to that found in Terry’s. From the brightly tiled floors, wooden tables and rattan-like chandelier lamps, the atmosphere is like entering a classy Spanish bodega. The Spanish music is lively (and most importantly, kept at a comfortable non-shouting level) and the outside terrace is one-of-a-kind as far as Shaw Centre restaurants go.

The food: Don’t expect any crazy fusion concoctions as the menu is full of hearty Spanish classics. Standouts include the suckling pig croquetas ($14) that are smooth, creamy and flavorful; baby squid in squid ink batter ($14) and the classic gambas al ajillo ($18), a Terry’s recipe of prawns cooked in garlic and chilli that comes in a sizzling platter. The suckling pig confit ($45) was on the saltier side but the peaches with caramelized onions balanced the dish out (keep a lookout for soft cartilage bones in the meat). Dessert lovers shouldn’t miss the rich and decadent chocolate marquise with baked almond praline ($14).

The drinks: Wine-centric. There are a few cocktails like mojitos and sangrias (both $14) but the Les Amis Group has always been known for their knowledge in wines. Expect bottles of La Granja verdejo viura ($55), tempranillo ($55) and, of course, Emilio Lustau jerez light fino sherry ($55). The terrace is a perfect after-work drink space, it’s sexy, intimate and nothing beats people watching on Orchard Road.

Why you’ll be back: Orchard Road is finally stepping up its food game and this time, it’s affordable, too. As far as Spanish tapas goes, this is one to rival the tried-and-tested establishments with a fun menu in a great space. Although a little hidden, your stomach will thank you for the trek.