Octapas Spanish Tapas Bar | Review

Where once was the old Tapas Tree, now stands a multi-limbed successor serving up a broad range of passable dishes and one or two real gems, in a welcoming, convivial environment. First though, the location. Sometime in the distant future, archaeologists will dig up the remains of Clarke Quay from the bottom of the then-flooded city and ponder over what it all meant. What strange set of circumstances allowed the place to be both tourist mecca and local favorite? Did not the competing noise from the bars drown out all conversation? And why did certain restaurants along the waterfront decide that modeling their alfresco section after the deck of a ship—the lifebuoys, the railings, the wooden floors—was a good idea? You can ask yourself the very same questions right now, in fact.

And if you can overlook the crowds, the din and the tacky accoutrements, then this isn’t a bad option at all. In fact, with a few glasses of blackberry sangria inside you, it seems like a very good idea indeed. (Besides, we all know the First Rule of Clarke Quay is “Always. Be. Drinking.”) Those sangrias, sweet cherry and all, make a great accompaniment to the range of classic tapas on offer, whether frias or calientes. Our platter of Serrano ham, chorizo, Manchego and goat cheese was barely bigger than a side dish, but it went well with the Fresh Tomato with a Kiss of Garlic on Toasted Focaccia. The chicken meatballs in almond sauce were rather dry, but the Octapas recommended beef tenderloin cubes—tiny morsels in a garlicky gravy—were very good indeed.

Therein lies the trick—follow their suggestions and you’ll do just fine. The grilled squid in a balsamic vinegar reduction, another house pick, was a further highlight; but if you choose as your logo a girl with octopus tentacles for legs, you’d better make sure you know what to do with cephalopods. And though none of the desserts are recommended by the house, we can vouch for the churros; crispy sticks of pure sugar, fried until golden and served with a rich chocolate sauce. As a stand alone meal, it’s not cheap. So invite some more sangrias to join you.

Small plates, big taste. Check out our list of best Spanish restaurants in Singapore.