TOS Update (Mar 2010)
Hola tapa! Pork cheeks and pumpkin sauce ($15), Madrid-style beef tripe stew ($12) and paella española ($80 for four to fi ve people, order one day in advance) are just three of the 35 dishes on the new menu of this drinking and dining spot. #01-29 Orchard Hotel, 442 Orchard Rd
On reflection, it’s a little perplexing why Singaporeans haven’t taken to tapas with more enthusiasm. After all, if you’re a fan of dim sum and sushi with their bite-sized accessibility, it’s not a particularly big culinary leap to this most loved of Spanish foods. I find it odd that no one in this town serves tapas the traditional way. The counterbased form of snacking is, for me, one of tapas’ great joys: perfect individual morsels to be enjoyed, at all hours of the day, with a glass of chilled cava.
The newly opened Bodega Y Tapas – warmly lit and framed by quirky walls painted with black bulls and red flowers – has none of this DNA. What’s served, instead, are small plates of food that usually need to be shared between two or more, and only at fixed lunch and dinner hours. While the food itself is authentic, there is much more to the tapas experience than this.
Spanish chef Bernardo Novas Pardeiro does a smart job in sending out delicately wrought, full-flavoured offerings. He’s helped by quality ingredients – the staple of all good tapas – that he rarely does much with, except perhaps a quick sauté or a flash on the grill. Small discs of chorizo sausage oozed their ruby red oils. Chunks of tuna came simply skewered on fragrant rosemary stalks. Meatballs arrived doused in a tomato sauce that was bronzed with crushed almonds and garlic. Potato croquettes were nicely creamy and elastic, while the pear and chocolate pie charmed with its understated blend of sweet and bitter.
At another meal, Pardeiro sent out his version of devils on horseback: fat, sweet scallops wrapped with streaky bacon and prunes; the combination of sweet, fat and slightly tart was an instant crowd-pleaser. Even humble potato wedges were given a lift with crisp shells and a lemony, paprika-flecked dip. And because the kitchen relies so heavily on good ingredients, any slip is immediately obvious. Less pleasing were the bland beef cubes sautéed in flavourless garlic, and a powdery, rather damp crema Catalana, the Spanish version of a crème brûlée.
Along with inadequate ventilation from the kitchen, service needs a serious overhaul. Bread was never served as a matter of course, not even when all that oily chorizo just begged to be mopped up: one order never arrived, and on a second visit, the log of bread finally materialised after three follow-ups. It then appeared on the bill as a $2.94 item. Later, the bill arrived buried in order chits. When we asked why, the reply was, ‘So you know what you ordered’. Even when the place was barely quarter-full the wait-staff were harried, distracted, and sometimes haughty and bordering on plain bo-chap. Words by Daven Wu
|Venue name:||Bodega y Tapas||Contact:|
#01-29 Orchard Hotel
442 Orchard Road
|Opening hours:||Daily noon-1am|