It’s been over two years since Carlos Montobbio has settled into his role as the head chef at Esquina, a modern tapas restaurant in the stable of Unlisted Collection. At only 30 years of age, the young chef has already drawn a steady stream of regulars to the restaurant with a playful, contemporary tapas menu that features subtle Asian influences. The classic bacalao brandade (salt cod) comes in the form of his Spanish Nigiri ($6 each), with the cod replacing the rice and a crimson slice of roasted bell pepper replacing the raw fish; while the starter of Tsarskaya oyster comes embellished with jalapeño ponzu, salmon roe and pickled ginger flower.
His varied career has also seen him pass through the doors of the acclaimed Cinc Sentits in Barcelona, and El Celler de Can Roca, which has been twice ranked no. 1 in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. The experience shows in his food: small bites that explode with flavour, but restrained in their use of molecular or flashy techniques.
While he did innovative bar snacks at his previous stint as the chef de cuisine at Fairmont Singapore’s Anti:dote bar, the menu at Esquina sings much closer to home for Montobbio. Many of the tapas are modernised versions of classic Catalonian dishes, like a Spanish omelette prepared with confit onions and topped with olive oil caviar ($6 each), or Spanish octopus with chimichurri and chorizo oil ($28).
16 Jiak Chuan Road, Singapore 089267. Tel: +65 6222 1616