“One of the most underrated restaurants, but…”
Formerly at Peranakan Place more than 20 years ago, you might easily miss Esmirada Orchard, which is located at the corner of Orchard road junction beneath the more prominent TAB/Sonar. Right beside it is Bodega Y Tapas, another Spanish restaurant under the same Esmirada Group.
Both restaurants share the same menu, and to me, not much distinction between these restaurants exist, with Esmirada being flaunted as a Mediterranean restaurant instead. They encompass a bit of French, Spanish, Italian, German as well as Australian influences in their cuisine. I was on a Spanish food hunt which initially led me to Bodega Y Tapas, but I decided to try Esmirada eventually.
Famous Garlic Bread ($6.5). On the onset, it looked like a phallic baguette sticking out of the basket. But tearing the bread apart, you get to the garlic spread that has been slathered generously in the middle that was sliced. Good garlic flavours, but I preferred my bread of the softer, crispier variety. Tastes a lot better when dipped in the garlic oil from the prawns next.
Sizzling Garlic Chili prawns ($19). I could probably write a thesis from all the Spanish Garlic prawns I’ve eaten. This was spicier than usual from the chili padi, but it only hits you after a few bites, and in a more undertone manner. Prawns were crispy fresh, and not overdone, with more subtle and raw garlic flavour compared to say Don Quijote Spanish Restaurant.
Braised Lamb Shank ($34). Served with homemade alsacian spatzle (a kind of small egg dumpling) and tasty braised cherries, this was very tender because of the sous vide cooking. None of that gamey lamb taste which is a sign of good preparation.
Skewers: Lamb Chops ($38), Iberico Collar ($32). It looks a tad pricy for just a single skewer, but these meats were excellent. Comes with yoghurt mint, tzatziki and salsa sauce as long as a baked potato per skewer. But honestly, you don’t even need the sauces to alter these juicy meats.
Both skewers had a good charred flavour coming from the Josper oven- tender and soft. Eat it fast though, as the meat continues to cook and gets more firm later on.
Paella Valenciana ($35). Finally, a really good decent Paella. Made with a saffron infused seafood stock, this tastes like the ocean. The bomba rice absorbed the flavours really well and was still firm, not overly mushy.
The pawns and mussells were also cooked just right, with the mussels kind of bursting in your mouth. Also has Iberian pork and squid, which gives good variety and not a moment of dullness. One of the top Paella I’ve had. In my life.
Lemon Tart ($12). A sort of deconstructed lemon tart, you can mix the portions of lemon curd to meringue to thyme crumble as you wish. A very good dessert not overly sweet or sour with good balance.
Tiramisu ($12). Heavy in the Kahlua coffee liqueur, with a nice soggy biscuit base. This was amazing and very traditionally made with mascarpone cheese that just melds all the ingredients togehter.
From left: Hugo ($13), Homemade Sangria ($14). The Hugo cocktail is made of Sparkling cava wine, elderflower, soda, mint and lime. Akin to a Mojito, but so much smoother and better. The Sangria wasn’t very good though, very flat and heavy in apples but lacking the citrus bite.
At 9pm every day, Esmirada Orchard commences a plate breaking ceremony with guests, supposedly a Greek custom during celebrations. Truly a spectacle, they break around 40 plates each time, or more depending on the number of guests.
I’d come to Esmirada just to watch this. They even let you break some plates too.
From this experience, the food was way underrated in Singapore. Very good quality with pretty affordable prices compared to other restaurants with similar dishes. I would strongly recommend Esmirada Orchard from this night alone.
However, it has come to my attention that one of my Esmirada dining partners, who had also agreed the food was superb when we were dining, went back the following week with her friends and experienced a totally different standard. She had ordered the exact same dishes as well.
Perhaps the main chef was on leave, or the kitchen was having a very off day. Nonetheless, do be wary of the inconsistency. When they’re good, it’s really good. When it’s bad, its really bad.
Expected Damage: $50 – $70/pax