showy see-and-be-seen posh-masquerading-as-rustic spanish in this ball floating by the marina bay area.
this place is gorgeous, all dark intimate lighting and architectural elegance, the people inside as dressed up as they come – and it’s got some serious pedigree (el-bulli trained staff, hello). so while it’s probably no surprise that while the food here does exhibit certain expertise, I think it better visited for an experience per se, than explicitly for the cooking.
it’s a sophisticated bar within restaurant concept, and the sort of place you feel a little gauche if you don’t order bottles of wine – although I give them points for pleasant staff who don’t make you feel that way (it’s more self-induced mortification). and I don’t want to go too much into the bits of food either; it’s sufficient to say that they were largely pretty plates of food, good flavours, but tiny portions more suited to model types than actual hunger, and a translation (both in positive quality and negative quantity) from rustic spanish eating to modern fine dining.
we had already decided on their renowned roast suckling pig, so a line of tapas worked for starters. octopus a feira was a take on galician octopus, but with more pork than cephalopod, and a tasty foam hiding it all.
white asparagus brought a few thick but non- woody stalks standing in a rich savoury white sauce, and an avocado roll was a minuscule tube of shredded lobster wrapped with thin avocado slices and topped with ikura. very good – but the most miserly of the lot.
croquetas e jamon were four decently-sized well browned fritters of bechamel goodness. the best tapas that night, creamy and savory and satisfying – and very adorable in its wired serving basket.
the suckling pig, for which we had come, was less impressive. no doubt, the show of bringing a visibly recognisable cooked pig and the fanfare of cutting it up with a plate was awe-inspiring, though the eating less so. I believe it’s only half a pig (and if not then this is one skinny specimen), a little too gamey at parts (I admit my chinese heritage increases my sensitivity to it) and not much real meat.
when you did get it, it was moist and some very delicious pork – but a lot of it was bone (difficult to pick out in the dark romantic light) and odd gamey bits.
the sides deserve mention though, because they helped the dish to shine. some pan-fried green patron peppers, reminiscent of the korean green shishitos, were appetisingly bitter and sweetly green; the pineapple cubes a sweet counterpoint to the meat.
so perhaps I was a little disappointed – but that was largely because of the minuscule serving sizes and the fact that you would need to spend a bomb to leave suitably filled – but the cooking is undeniably refined. it’s worth a visit, and not too expensive for an unforgettable date or occasion-deserving treat, but not really worth it if you’re looking for some rustic belly-bursting spanish fare.
The Fullerton Pavilion
82 Collyer Quay
tel +65 6534 0886
$$$$: four tiny tapas + one (half) suckling pig + two sides = five not-quite-full diners = sixtyish each
p.s. singapore is home to many expert cantonese roasters who churn out superbly crisp crackling and tender pork, so I can’t help but mention that you’re better off visiting them for a pork fix.