¡Arriba!

¡Arriba!

Featuring the sexiest Spanish sustenance round town.
Russell Leong
Russell Leong

Did you hear about @blackcherrysg, a modern European restaurant serving up both Italian & Spanish cuisine, at Pasir Panjang? Well, now you have. They’re an all-day bistro that offers brunch classics & coffee in the am, and Italian/Spanish staples & booze in the pm.⠀

Starting our dinner was the new addition to the menu, the Spanish Prawn Gambas ($18++). Featuring fantastically fresh prawns seared in garlic chili infused olive oil, these shellfish were a hit. The salty & gloriously garlicky oil lent its savoury goodness to the snappy, subtly sweet prawns, and the chilies added that tantalising tinge of spice to the prawns. Put the oil coated prawns on the garlic bread provided, and you get a terrific tapas.⠀

Thank you so much for the invite, @sghappens & @esth3r_esth3r, and to @blackcherrysg for hosting us!⠀

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@lumbre.sg Seafood Wet Fideua 'Arroz Caldoso' with Calamari and Smoked Eel ($48++) sounds exotic, but despite it being Spanish, it was highly reminiscent of a local Singaporean favourite. Arroz caldoso literally means ‘broth-y rice’, and it’s the Spanish equivalent of a risotto. But what the heck is fideua? A quick google search revealed that it’s paella, but with thin pasta noodles instead of paella rice.⠀

Due to the noodles being cooked in a stunningly sapid seafood broth, each and every single soft noodle is utterly laden with umami. The little bits of calamari mixed in provide an irresistible chewy contrast to the soft noodles, and the flavours are sublime. Remember when I said that Lumbre’s fideua was a dead ringer for a Singaporean favourite? That’s right, this was essentially Spanish fried seafood bee hoon. And it’s essentially excellent too, with charred crispy bits at the bottom of the cast iron pot begging to be scraped off the pot and into your eager maw once you’ve devoured your way through this pot of piquant noodles.

The slab of unagi-sorry, smoked eel on top was delicate in texture, but incredibly bold in flavours. Smoky, salty, seared spectacularly and simply stellar, the moist eel was well deserving of its place atop the redolent fideua. However, forty eight bucks before tax & service charge is a shockingly steep ask considering that it’s not a notably large portion. I tried it and relished every last morsel of it, but I’m not entirely sure if I’d order it again.

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As I’ve mentioned previously, it isn’t quite fair to judge @lumbre.sg on its pastas, as it’s a flame grilled specialist. The grilled meats are what it should be judged by, and their Duck Breast with Confit Endives and Apple Purée ($32++) is a decent entrée to be judged by.

As the more eagle eyed of you may have noticed, the duck breast is grilled to medium well instead of the usual medium rare. Our party of eight included a pregnant mother, and I applaud the attentiveness & proactivity both the waitstaff & kitchen to accommodate her. Even though the duck breast wasn’t mid rare, it was still rather tender, and the copious amounts of fat under the skin have been adroitly rendered out, leaving behind a charmingly charred & crisp skin.

The savouriness of the duck is amplified by the stunning smokiness imparted by the flame grill. The rich, salty glaze adds depth of flavour and extra moisture to the red meat, superbly satiating any carnivore cravings you may have. There’s no risk of this duck getting too salty, as the sweet & sour apple purée rebalances all that meaty saltiness, cleaning out your palate and readying you for a second slice of smoky duck.

It’s a good thing that the head chef at Lumbre had the wisdom to pair the duck with confit endives, as the duck alone would’ve been quite lacking as an entrée. The slow cooking of the endives in fat have siphoned out most of the bitterness, leaving a pleasantly herbal & sweet flavour behind. The endives are a fork poke away from disintegrating, and they are felicitously fatty thanks to the slow cook in fat. Great way to eat your greens, if you ask me.

When it comes to the duck, Lumbre certainly doesn’t duck the vibe check, instead passing it with aplomb and some flair. Now we’re really getting stuck into the meat of the matter alright.

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Even though @lumbre.sg has classed their Charcoal Octopus & Ibérico Pork Belly with Chorizo Foam ($38++) as a main dish, it definitely feels like a perfect appetiser to share. The Spanish are renowned for grilled octopus, and Lumbre certainly lives up to that reputation.⠀

It’s no surprise that the grilled octopus is the leading man here, and deservedly so. The fantastically fresh octopus is grilled impeccably, singed lightly on the outside and achingly tender in the middle. Thanks to the octopus getting licked by the flames on the grill, the tastefully chewy octopus is sensually smoky, adding a deeper satisfaction to the salty flavour.⠀

The Iberico grilled pork belly was also blessed by the same flame grill, and boasts a superb smokiness in addition to its fatty, juicy and meaty magnificence. Turning the chorizo into a foam seems to have sapped most of the expected saltiness of a chorizo right out, and the foam is more spicy & smoky than anything else. Texturally, it felt like a thinner, more aerated gazpacho, which does aid the ease of application onto the octopus & pork belly.⠀

The reason why I believe the Charcoal Octopus & Ibérico Pork Belly with Chorizo Foam to be the ideal sharing appetiser is just how titillating this combination is on fresh bread. Get yourself a couple of friends, this dish, and a basket of Lumbre’s bread, and you have all the makings of a legendary starter.

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Alcohol may not be good for my body, but my body is good for alcohol. Insta: @okwhotookmyusername

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